A Vacaville-based company that renovates foreclosed homes has been fined $51,000 regarding lead-based paint handling requirements, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday.
Blue Mountain Air failed to comply with the federal Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting rule that requires obtaining an EPA certification, using certified renovators and complying with other work practice requirements for handling lead-based paint safely, the EPA said.
Blue Mountain Air and Blue Mountain Realty are subsidiaries of Blue Mountain Inc. that is owned and operated by Greg S. Owen, the EPA said. Owen did not return a call for comment on the fine Wednesday afternoon.
Blue Mountain Air renovated four foreclosed homes in Napa, Santa Rosa and El Sobrante in 2011 and 2012, the EPA said.
The company did not obtain the required EPA firm certification before the renovations, failed to ensure that a certified renovator was assigned to the renovations and that all workers were certified and trained by a certified renovator and failed to maintain records to ensure warning signs were posted, work areas were contained and a certified renovator performed post-renovation cleaning verifications, according to the EPA.
Renovations include sanding, cutting and demolition that can create hazardous lead dust and chips that can contaminate home surfaces and accumulate to unsafe levels, the EPA said. Eating and playing can move the lead dust from surfaces, including floors and windowsills, into the person’s body and expose children, families and workers to lead poisoning, the EPA said.
Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest, said:
“Lead-based paint is the main source of lead poisoning for children, which can cause learning disabilities and behavior problems.”
The EPA said lead exposure is more dangerous to children than adults because the children’s growing bodies absorb more lead and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to lead toxicity.
Children under six years old are most at risk for behavior and learning problems, slow growth, hearing problems and brain and neurological damage, the EPA said.
The United States banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978, but the EPA estimates more than 37 million older homes in the country still contain lead-based paint. The EPA enforces the federal Toxic Substances Control Act and its Renovation, Repair and Painting rule to protect children from lead-based paint dust during renovation and repair.
Contractors who disturb painted surfaces in pre-1978 homes and child-occupied facilities must be trained and certified, provide educational materials to residents and follow safe work practices, the EPA said. More than 100,000 contractors nationwide have completed the certification process, the EPA said.
A single-day of training is required to learn about lead-safe practices, but many companies still operate without training or certification or regard for the potential harm to children, the EPA said.