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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it completed 117 federal enforcement actions from October 2018 through September 2019 to ensure entities such as renovation contractors comply with the agency's lead-safe practices. Exposure to lead dust, chips, or debris from lead-based paint can pose serious health risks, particularly to young children, an area of emphasis for the EPA in the past year.

Reducing childhood lead exposure was among the seven enforcement and compliance assurance priority areas outlined by the EPA for the fiscal years 2020-2023. The agency unveiled the Trump Administration's Federal Lead Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts in December 2018. The four stated goals of the action plan are to reduce children's exposure to lead sources, to identify lead-exposed children and improve their health outcomes, to communicate more effectively with stakeholders, and to support and conduct critical research to inform efforts to reduce lead exposures.

Contractors who were cited by the EPA in the past 12 months violated the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, or the Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule among other rules. The 117 enforcement actions is a significant decline from the 141 actions taken between October 2017 and September 2018.

By ensuring compliance with federal lead-based paint requirements, the EPA can address a major source of lead exposure that occurs in communities across the nation, according to the agency's release. The enforcement actions included civil administrative settlements, civil complaints, and default orders by the EPA.

Settlements with the EPA require alleged violators to come into compliance with the law and pay civil penalties, the EPA said. Additionally, the EPA obtained voluntary commitments to perform lead-based paint abatement projects in several settlements.

One of the largest settlements in the past year was made with Euro-Tech in Illinois. The company agreed to pay a $52,793 penalty to settle alleged RRP violations associated with window renovations at 42 residences over a five-year period.

The announcement from the EPA came in the midst of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, an initiative to bring together individuals, organizations, industry, and state and local governments to help increase awareness for lead poisoning.