Each year, hundreds of kids in Rhode Island are poisoned by lead. In an effort to prevent future poisonings, the state’s attorney general is stepping up enforcement of laws already on the books.
In the early 2000s, a child living in the second floor apartment of the triple decker on Dyer Avenue in Cranston tested positive for lead poisoning. A health department inspector found lead hazards in all nine rooms of the apartment, including the child’s bedroom.
Soon after, a child living in the apartment upstairs was also found to have lead poisoning. Another inspection found similar hazards, along with lead-contaminated tap water in the kitchen.
The state health department ordered the landlord to fix the problems, but they did not. In 2013 the building was sold to Cheang’s Realty, LLC. The new owners were told about the hazards through a lien on the property, and the health department sent two new notices of violation in 2015 and 2016.
It wasn’t until this summer, under pressure from the state, that Cheang’s Realty finally made the required repairs at this property and another building where a child had been poisoned in Providence, according to a complaint filed in Rhode Island Superior Court by the state attorney general. And the complaint alleges that they failed to show that a certified lead professional did the repairs.
The attorney general is asking the court to fine Cheang’s Realty $5000 for every day that the lead hazard went unaddressed.
The case is one of two lead enforcement complaints that Attorney General Peter Neronha filed last week, in what he said is a new initiative to enforce lead safety laws.