A Chicago-based contractor has been handed a $400,000 penalty for alleged violations of federal Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting regulations known as the RRP rule.
The penalty is part of a settlement announced Jan. 30 between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Dept. of Justice with Logan Square Aluminum Supply, a contractor that performed renovations in Chicago and its suburbs.
Under the court settlement, Logan Square Aluminum will implement a program to ensure that its contractors are certified and trained to use lead-safe work practices to avoid creating lead dust during home renovation activities.
According to a parallel administrative settlement agreement, Logan Square will pay a $400,000 penalty and also perform $2 million of lead-based paint abatement work in lower-income properties located in Chicago and Chicago suburbs in communities with a higher incidence of childhood lead poisoning.
The EPA first discovered the alleged violations through customer complaints about a project in Evanston. The EPA reports that it learned that Logan Square frequently subcontracted work to uncertified firms and did not use lead-safe work practices, perform required post-renovation cleaning, provide the EPA-required lead-based paint pamphlets to occupants, or establish records of compliance. Logan Square also conducts business under other names, including Climate Guard Thermal Products Co. and Studio 41.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that lead exposure can harm a child's health including damage to the brain and nervous system, slowed growth and development, learning and behavior problems and hearing and speech problems.
In its most recent report issued in 2019, the Illinois Dept. of Public Health reports that childhood lead exposure in Illinois is one of the highest in the nation. In 2019, more than 7,000 Illinois children tested had elevated blood lead levels.
“Lead exposure from lead-based paint continues to be a hazard for American families living in older homes, and children in those homes are particularly vulnerable,” said Larry Starfield, EPA acting assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, in a news release. “This settlement requires Logan Square Aluminum Supply, Inc. to take necessary steps to ensure that it meets appropriate safety requirements in future renovation projects that may disturb lead-based paint.”
“Companies that renovate homes built before 1978 must ensure that they hire EPA-certified contractors and follow other EPA rules requiring lead safe work practices,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We will take aggressive action against companies that do not take these important steps.”
Renovation is any activity that disturbs painted surfaces and includes most repair, remodeling and maintenance
activities, such as electrical work, plumbing, carpentry and window replacement.
Both Logan Square and its contractors are responsible for compliance with the RRP rule to protect the health and safety of families, especially children under the age of six who are most susceptible to lead hazards. For these projects, Logan Square must contract with only EPA-certified firms and renovators, ensure they maintain certification, use lead-safe work practices, and document their work with checklists during renovations, according to the EPA.
Logan Square will also add a link on its website to the EPA’s content on lead-safe work practices. In addition, Logan Square will take action to respond to situations where a contractor is not operating in compliance with the RRP rule; investigate all reports of potential noncompliance; and ensure that any violations are corrected and reported to the EPA.
A call to Logan Square Aluminum and Studio 41 was not immediately returned.