PORTLAND (AP) – The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing that a Biddeford apartment house owner be fined $38,830 for allegedly not telling a family with a young child that an apartment had lead paint in it.

The EPA said the property owner violated federal law by renting an apartment to families with children under 6 without telling them of the presence of lead paint.

The EPA said the property is owned by an enterprise known as 94 Cleaves Street, whose president, treasurer and director is Priscilla Dunn of Scarborough.

According to the EPA, the Maine Department of Human Services ordered Dunn in 1998 to remove lead paint hazards from the apartment building, in accordance with Maine lead paint laws. After Dunn did not comply, the state took her court where a judge ordered her to remove the hazards, said Newell Augur, DHS spokesman.

The building was eventually brought into compliance in 2001, the EPA said. Augur said nearly all the bill was paid for by the Maine Lead Poisoning Control Program.

“The lead disclosure rule is an important part of the EPA’s work in creating an environment that is safe for the public, especially our children,” Robert Varney, administrator of the EPA’s New England office in Boston, said in a prepared statement. “This rule helps prevent exposure to lead-based paint and resulting lead poisoning, which affects as many as 3 million young children in this country.”

Dunn’s attorney, Tuck Irwin, said he will file an answer to the complaint, denying the allegations. From there, he can begin settlement talks or go to court.

More than 400 children were diagnosed with lead poisoning in Maine last year. Children living in houses built before 1978, the year the federal government banned the use of lead in house paint, are thought to be at particular risk.

Lead poisoning causes developmental delays, behavior problems and learning disabilities which can take several years to appear.



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