LENEXA, KANSAS (July 15, 2020) — The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached a settlement with PMR Properties LLC for alleged violations of lead-based paint regulations under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act. The company manages and leases approximately 400 residential housing units in Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri. According to EPA, PMR Properties was aware of lead-based paint-hazards in some of its properties but failed to notify tenants of the potential danger.
“Notification of potential and actual lead hazards by landlords to tenants is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to avoid dangerous lead exposure,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford. EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford. “Tenants must have the ability to make informed decisions, especially when it comes to protecting their children.”
Under the terms of the settlement, which was filed with EPA on July 14, 2020, PMR Properties agreed to pay a $40,800 civil penalty and certified that it is in compliance with the law.
Lead-contaminated dust from chipped or peeling lead-based paint in homes built prior to 1978 is one of the most common causes of elevated blood/lead levels in children. Infants, and children are especially vulnerable to lead-paint exposure because their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults do, and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead. They can be exposed from multiple sources and may experience irreversible and lifelong health-effects. Lead dust can be generated when lead-based paint deteriorates or is disturbed.
To protect families from exposure to lead from paint, dust, and soil, Congress passed the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992. The law directs EPA and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to require the disclosure of known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint-hazards before the sale or lease of most housing built before 1978.
According to EPA’s investigation, the property-management company repeatedly failed to distribute required lead-hazard information pamphlets to tenants in pre-1978 housing. EPA also alleges that PMR Properties received information from The Iowa Department of Public Health that state inspections of certain properties demonstrated positive test-results for lead, and that PMR Properties failed to notify tenants of these known lead hazards or provide the reports before they were obligated under contract to lease the units.
About 3.6 million American households have children under 6 years of age who live in homes with lead-exposure hazards. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 500,000 American children between ages 1 and 5 have blood/lead levels at or above the CDC blood lead reference value (the level at which CDC recommends public health actions begin). According to the CDC, no safe blood lead level has been identified.
Reducing childhood lead-exposure and the associated health impacts is a top priority for EPA.