Iowa stepping up enforcement on lead paint - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa stepping up enforcement on lead paint

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

Lead paint has been banned for sale in the US since the 1970s.  But many older homes still have the paint, and it's especially toxic for children if they eat lead paint.  And Iowa is now stepping up enforcement of lead paint regulations, particularly for contractors doing work to renovate buildings with lead paint.

John Dutcher manages an apartment complex in Cedar Falls.  He's always trying to keep his units in good shape.

"We get better renters by keeping property up-to-date and in great condition," said Dutcher.

Over the past few years, part of doing that has meant following stricter guidelines when it comes to lead paint.  Dutcher and landlords like him have to require all tenants to read and sign a 40-plus page booklet, making them aware there's a chance lead paint could be in the building.

"With regard to these buildings, they were built in 1977-1978.  There's, to my knowledge, no lead paint material in them.  But in order to comply with government regulations, we have to fill out the forms, keep them on record," Dutcher said.

On top of that, if he does any renovations involving paint to the apartments, he or any contractor he hires to do the work now have to take a safety class about safe lead removal practices.  If they don't, they'll face fines up to $5,000. 

And while landlords want their properties to be safe-- some feel the regulations are excessive and unfair.

"I'm not sure where to draw the line.  All I know is as a property owner, I have to comply," Dutcher said.

The state's goal is to see fewer cases of lead poisoning in children, which in Iowa are currently four times the national average.  And if that number drops, the state feels the new, stricter rules will be worthwhile.

The Iowa Department of Public Health does some spot inspections to make sure property owners are following its regulations.  But it mostly relies on tips and complaints from residents before investigating possible violations.

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