Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (APRIL 17, 2002) -- The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) recently issued a complaint, order and penalty against 3428 Belair Edison, Inc. (“Belair Edison”) for violations of the state’s lead laws resulting in the alleged lead poisoning of a toddler.

Belair Edison, located in the 4600 block of Sherwood Mills Road in Owings Mills, owns five pre-1950 residential rental dwelling units located in northeast Baltimore. The firm failed to comply with a December 2001 Baltimore City Health Department Emergency Violation Notice to remove lead paint and failed to register each of its five affected properties with MDE until February 2002. Penalties against the company total $41,350, and could increase if the violations are not corrected.

“Maryland’s lead laws enable the state to require rental property owners to reduce the risk of lead paint poisoning,” said MDE Secretary Jane T. Nishida. “MDE continues to enforce Maryland’s lead law to ensure safe and affordable rental housing.”

The Secretary added that although MDE is stepping up its enforcement efforts, it will continue to work with property owners by entering into agreements with those who are committed to achieving compliance with lead paint laws. Property owners may call (800) 776-2706 for lead law compliance information and registration.

Maryland’s Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing law, enacted in 1994, requires owners of rental property constructed before 1950 to meet a lead hazard Risk Reduction Standard. Property owners are required to meet the standard prior to occupancy and whenever there is tenant turnover.

In October 2001, a 16-month old child living at a dwelling in the 3400 block of Belair Road in Baltimore owned by Belair Edison was diagnosed with an elevated blood lead level (“EBL”) of 30 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dl). A level of 20µg/dl is considered to be lead poisoned. In November 2001, the child’s EBL rose to the dangerously high level of 90 µg/dl.

On Monday, MDE issued an Administrative Complaint, Order, and Penalty to Belair Edison advising the business of the requirement to bring affected properties into compliance with the full risk reduction standard prior to occupancy by a new tenant; bring 50 percent of its affected properties into compliance with the full risk reduction standard regardless of whether there has been a change in tenancy; and provide Tenants’ Rights Notices and lead poisoning educational materials to tenants.

To date, Belair Edison properties have no certificate of compliance on file with MDE in relation to lead matters. Belair Edison has 10 days from the receipt of the Complaint and Order to file a written request for a hearing on the Order and 30 days to request a hearing on the penalty.

Lead poisoning, a preventable disease, may result in poor school performance, inability to read, aggressive behavior, hearing loss or even mental retardation.

Maryland’s fight against lead poisoning has made great strides in the last few years through increased enforcement, property owner education and community awareness. In 1999 for example, 555 Maryland children were diagnosed with blood lead levels that exceeded the lead poisoning standard. That number had dropped to 353 in 2000. Baltimore city children made up the majority of those figures with 446 cases in 1999 and 266 in 2000.