Boston, Mass. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today announced that the Springfield, Mass. Housing Authority will pay an $11,000 penalty for failing to inform tenants their apartments may contain lead-based paint, as required by law. In addition, the housing authority agreed to render apartment buildings at four of its properties lead safe at a cost of more than $49,500.
According to HUD and EPA, the Springfield Housing Authority violated the federal Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 (Residential Lead Act) by failing to inform people seeking to rent pre-1978 housing that their homes may contain potentially dangerous amounts of lead. This action was based on compliance inspections of the Springfield Housing Authority by EPA in 2007 and 2009.
“Today's settlement should remind landlords and property owners that they have a legal responsibility to tell their tenants about known as well as potential lead-based paint hazards in their homes,” said Jon L. Gant, Director of HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control. “HUD is committed to working with public housing authorities and other housing providers to make certain we protect children from potentially dangerous lead poisoning.”
“Exposure to lead paint continues to be a significant health concern, especially for infants and children here in New England where there are many houses built before 1978 that may still contain lead paint,” said Curt Spalding, Regional Administrator of the U.S. EPA’s New England office. “Providing basic information to prospective renters or purchasers of property built before 1978 helps to educate people about potential risks and how to protect themselves and their families from lead poisoning.'
Before the settlement, the Springfield Housing Authority performed lead-based paint inspections of its properties covered by the Residential Lead Act. Under the settlement, the Springfield Housing Authority will have two years to perform specific lead-based paint abatement work at four apartment complexes, including removal and replacement of basement windows and frames at the Ashley-Gerrish Apartments; steel exterior columns at the John J. Duggan Park Apartments; a wood basement stair system and basement walls at the Robinson Gardens Apartments; and bathtub trim at the Moxon Apartments.
The lead-based paint work is focused on these properties and building components because the lead-based paint inspections found that most of Springfield Housing Authority’s other properties were lead-based paint free. Springfield Housing Authority has agreed to complete all of the required work and spend at least $49,500 in the process. The lead abatement work required by the agreements goes beyond what Springfield Housing Authority is already required to do under HUD’s Lead Safe Housing Rule.
The settlement announced today is the fifth such judicial consent decree or administrative agreement in New England between HUD and EPA. Nearly 12,000 rental units have been or will be made lead safe for tenants by landlords and management companies found to have violated the Residential Lead Act. Moreover, the landlords and management companies involved in these five settlements have paid civil fines totaling $366,133 and paid over $6.5 million to eliminate or reduce lead hazards.
The Residential Lead Act is one of the primary federal enforcement tools to prevent lead poisoning in young children. The Lead Disclosure Rule, authorized by the Act, requires home sellers and landlords of housing built before 1978 to provide an EPA-approved “Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home” pamphlet and warn of the hazards of lead-based paint to prospective purchasers and tenants. In addition sellers and landlords must share knowledge of known lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards on a disclosure form that both parties must sign. They must also provide copies of any available lead records or reports. The form should be attached to the sales contract or lease. Sellers must also provide purchasers with an opportunity to conduct a lead-based paint inspection and/or risk assessment at the purchaser’s expense. Acceptable lead disclosure forms can be found at the HUD Lead Disclosure Rule web page and the EPA Lead Disclosure Rule web page.
Health Effects of Lead-Based Paint
Lead exposure causes reduced IQ, learning disabilities, developmental delays, poorer hearing, and a host of other health problems in young children. Many of these effects are thought to be irreversible. In later years, lead-poisoned children are much more likely to drop out of school, become juvenile delinquents and engage in criminal and other anti-social behavior. As reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers have found that even at low levels, lead exposure in children can significantly impact IQ and may even delay puberty in young girls.
At higher levels lead can irreversibly damage a child's kidneys and central nervous system and cause anemia, coma, convulsions and even death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 535,000 American children have elevated blood-lead levels.
Eliminating lead-based paint hazards in pre-1978 housing is essential if childhood lead poisoning is to be eradicated. Although the prevalence of childhood lead poisoning has dropped significantly, the risk to children in low-income, older housing remains high. HUD estimates about 23 million homes still contain significant lead-based paint hazards with the potential to poison young children.
Properties subject to this settlement agreement (all in Springfield, Mass.)
- 22-66 Healy Street and 29-53 Moxon Street (Moxon Apartments);
- 57 Robert Dyer Circle and 40 William Sands Road (Robinson Garden Apartments);
- 2, 4, 10, 12, 27, 29, 31, 33, 36, and 38 Arthur Picard Circle; 399-517 Goodwin Street; 9-135 Layzon Bros. Road; and 30, 32, 34, 36, 48, 50, 52, and 54 Rodney Smith Jr. Circle (John J. Duggan Park Apartments);
- 100 Ashley Street and 2, 4, and 6 Gerrish Court (Ashley-Gerrish Apartments)