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Attorney General Announces Lead Paint Enforcement Project In City Of Burlington

CONTACT: Robert F. McDougall, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5506

November 21, 2008 - A high rate of children with elevated levels of lead in their blood, a housing stock among the oldest in Vermont, and available educational and remediation resources have combined to make Burlington a priority focus of the State of Vermont’s lead law enforcement efforts. Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell today announced the creation of a Burlington-based enforcement project that his office, working in partnership with the Burlington Lead Program and the Burlington Housing Authority, will undertake in 2009.

“Far too many children with lead poisoning come from the Burlington area,” said Attorney General Sorrell. “This is a serious public health problem and yet, one that can be avoided. We’re going to make progress in the State’s most populous city.”

Lead-based paint in housing is the primary cause of childhood lead poisoning, which can cause adverse health effects including decreases in IQ. Vermont’s lead laws require that essential maintenance practices (known as EMPs) be performed in all pre-1978 rental housing. Annually, an EMP Compliance Statement certifying completion of EMPs needs to be submitted by a landlord to the Department of Health, to the owner’s insurance carrier and, since July 1, 2008, to all tenants of the property.

Beginning in January 2009, the Office of the Attorney General will send letters to Burlington landlords who are suspected of having at least one property that is not in compliance with the Vermont lead laws. The letters will advise landlords to demonstrate that their properties are in compliance with the Vermont lead laws in the following 90 days or face a State enforcement lawsuit. The Attorney General’s Office expects the letters to go out on a regular basis with Burlington’s largest landlords being the focus of the January mailings.

“The Burlington Lead Program and the Burlington Housing Authority offer resources both educational and financial to Burlington area landlords that can assist them as they bring their properties into compliance,” said Brian Pine, Assistant Director of Housing for the City of Burlington. “In many instances these resources have gone unnoticed and unused. Hopefully, as a part of this project, more landlords will take advantage of the assistance and support these groups are willing to offer.”

The Attorney General’s Office plans on using the model of the Burlington program in other geographic areas of the State where large numbers of children have had elevated blood lead levels. Landlords in communities outside of Burlington can expect to receive similar mailings in the coming months as enforcement efforts around Vermont are ongoing.

For copies of court documents in recent enforcement cases relating to lead and links to a video and written information concerning the duties of owners and managers of pre-1978 rental housing, see the Attorney General’s lead website.

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.