Contractor gets off light in lead paint incident

July 10, 2011

I was appalled to learn recently how the three young children of my neighbors on Henrietta Street in Federal Hill were put at risk of lead poisoning. The law allows only contractors who are certified to remove lead-based paint. In this renovation, a certified contractor won a contract for the paint removal and then scooted around the EPA requirement by subcontracting the work. The subcontractor was not certified, and indeed failed to take the required precautions. Lead-based paint dust and debris were spread over the property and neighboring properties. Water from the removal ended up in the city drains bound for theChesapeake Bay.

The neighbors turned to the city government to help police and correct the problem. But rather than find support from the government, they found themselves passed from bureau to bureau without resolution, ultimately being left with the mess. No action was taken to correct the behavior of the original contractor. The subcontractor was cited not for doing the work without certification but for not following proper procedures. And the neighbors were left with the mess, fearing to let their children go out of doors on their own property.

I hear that Baltimore is trying to encourage more young families to move here. To take root, this encouragement needs the promise of clean, safe, family-oriented communities. The actions of the city suggest that the financial well-being of contractors comes ahead of the health of children.

Mary Ann Powell, Baltimore

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