SEATTLE – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has fined a Portland, Oregon based remodeling firm, Hammer & Hand Inc., $69,398, for failing to comply with federal lead-based paint rules. EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule protects the public from lead-based paint health hazards during repair or remodeling activities in housing built before 1978. Hammer & Hand failed to follow lead-safe work practices while performing renovation work on two older homes in Portland last year.
According to Ed Kowalski, Director of EPA Region 10's Office of Compliance and Enforcement, “Making sure that lead-based paint is properly removed and handled helps protect people's health during repairs or renovations in older homes, particularly where children live. This case shows that EPA is serious about making sure companies that break the law are held accountable when they ignore the rules and put public health at risk.”
Hammer & Hand is a general contracting and remodeling firm with offices in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. In 2015, EPA inspectors found multiple violations during renovations the firm conducted at two older homes in Portland. Specifically, the firm failed to: determine if lead-based paint was present; perform on-the-job training on lead-safe work practices; post warning signs about lead-based paint renovation works and hazards; cover the ground with plastic sheeting to collect falling paint debris; contain paint chips and waste to prevent release of lead-contaminated dust and debris; and perform post-renovation cleaning. See photos and more details below.
The Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule, which is a part of the Toxic Substances Control Act, is intended to ensure that owners and occupants of housing built before 1978 or any child-occupied facilities, receive information on lead-based paint hazards before renovations begin, and that workers performing renovations are properly trained, certified by EPA, and follow specific work practices to reduce the risk of lead-based paint exposure.
Lead-based paint was banned in 1978 but still remains in many homes and apartments across the country. Lead dust hazards can occur when lead-based paint deteriorates or is disturbed during renovation and remodeling activities. Lead exposure can cause a range of health problems, from behavioral disorders and learning disabilities to seizures and death. Young children are at the greatest health risk because their bodies and nervous systems are still developing. A blood lead test is the only way to determine if a child has a high lead level. Parents who think their child has been in contact with lead dust or other sources of lead should contact their child's health care provider.
Renovation firms that are certified under the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule are encouraged to display EPA’s “Lead-Safe” logo on worker’s uniforms, signs, websites and other material. Consumers can protect themselves by looking for the logo before hiring a renovation firm. Consumers can learn more about the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule and hiring a certified firm by calling the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD or visiting www.epa.gov/lead.