Landlords, contractors face new lead paint liability rule

Wearing white suits and gear, workers from County Abatement Inc. scrape lead paint this week from the historic Station 98 building, thhe former railway station in Machias.  (BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY KATHERINE CASSIDY)
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Wearing white suits and gear, workers from County Abatement Inc. scrape lead paint this week from the historic Station 98 building, thhe former railway station in Machias. (BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY KATHERINE CASSIDY)
Posted April 12, 2010, at 8:21 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Landlords, property managers and renovation contractors are invited to free informational presentations this week on lead paint liability in residential rental properties.

The programs are aimed at raising awareness about a new federal Renovation Repair and Painting rule that goes into effect April 22 requiring contractors who work in residential units containing lead paint to undergo special lead-safe training.

For landlords, the session will offer a legal interpretation of the new rule, including landlords’ obligations to test for lead and to hire qualified contractors for any jobs that include disturbing painted surfaces. For contractors, the training will focus on the specific training and certification required to comply with the new stan-dards.

Every year in Maine, about 300 children are diagnosed with elevated levels of lead in their blood. The majority of these cases are caused by exposure to lead-containing dust released from painted surfaces during renovations and repairs. Exposure to lead dust is associated with serious neurological disorders, ranging from de-creased attention levels to mental retardation, seizures and even death.

Interior paint used in homes before 1978 is likely to contain lead, which was added to make painted surfaces more durable. Maine has among the oldest housing stocks in the nation, and many houses, apartments and other structures are contaminated with lead. Lead paint also is found in soil around contaminated homes and other structures.

Both informational sessions will be held Thursday, April 15, at Bangor Public Library. From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., a former lawyer with the federal Environmental Protection Agency will present information and answer questions about the legal implications of the new rule for landlords and contractors. From 1 to 3:30 p.m., offi-cials from the EPA, the Maine Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention program and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection will discuss specific training requirements and opportunities.

The sessions are free, but preregistration is requested by calling the Penquis agency at 973-3588.

For information about lead paint poisoning in eastern Maine, visit www.whatyoudomatters.org.

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