Senate Bill 460: Giving Enforcement Agencies Authority To Prevent Lead Poisoning




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Senate Bill 460:

Giving Enforcement Agencies Authority


To Prevent Lead Poisoning
Before SB 460,

Agencies focus on secondary prevention




  • Intervene to address lead hazard only after child is poisoned

  • Law provides secondary prevention role for health department

  • Law does not give clear role to housing department

Before SB 460,

Local agencies have limited primary prevention authority:


  • Cite lead hazards or unsafe work practices as “nuisances,” a substandard housing condition

    • Only enforced by housing departments

    • Rarely enforced

    • But nuisances problematic to prove

    • No clear penalty for violations

  • Where local ordinance grants authority

  • Cal/OSHA can require lead safe work practices

    • Only where employer/employee relationship

    • Limited enforcement resources

  • Federally-assisted housing must be made lead safe

After SB 460,

Agencies have authority to prevent lead poisoning:




  • Agencies can cite landlords for “lead hazards”

  • Agencies can stop unsafe work practices

  • Agencies can order workers to use lead safe work practices

  • Agencies can fine property owners and workers who violate orders

Enforcement authority granted to:




  • Health departments

  • Housing departments

  • Building departments

  • Environmental health departments

  • State Department of Health Services

[Source: Health & Safety Code §17961; H&S Code §105251(c)]


SB 460 grants enforcement authority to agencies under:




  • State health law

  • State housing law

  • Key difference is definition of “lead hazard”

Authority Under State Health Law


SB 460 authorizes primary prevention:



  • No requirement that there be a poisoned child to initiate enforcement.

  • Where disturbing paint in pre-1978, can presume lead-based.



        • Where agency finds “activity” that creates “lead hazard”:

          • Order owner to abate lead hazard

          • Order person creating lead hazard to cease and desist

          • Violating order punishable by $1000 fine

          • Fine is in addition to any other penalties

[Source: Health and Safety Code §105256]





  • Where agency finds “condition” that creates “lead hazard”

          • Order owner to abate lead hazard

          • Violating order punishable by $1000 fine

          • Fine is in addition to any other penalties

[Source: Health and Safety Code §105256]





  • For lead-related construction work, agency can:

    • Enter and inspect premises

    • Where lead hazard:

      • Order cease and desist

      • Order abatement or correction

    • Violating order punishable by $1000 fine

    • Fine is in addition to any other penalties

[Source: Health and Safety Code §105255]


Authority Under State Housing Law

Primary prevention: No requirement that there be a poisoned child to initiate enforcement.

“Lead hazard” violates housing standards:


  • Cite “lead hazards” as a housing code violation

    • Must know that lead is present

    • Can’t presume presence of lead in pre-1978 buildings, even if there is ongoing work

  • Enforce violations like other substandard housing conditions

[Source: Health &Safety Code §§17920.10 and 17980]

“Lead hazard” is an untenantable condition:


  • If tenant proves existence of lead hazard, unit is untenantable

  • Tenant may withhold rent for untenantable conditions

  • Tenant should never withhold rent without first talking to a lawyer

    • If withholding appropriate, consider paying rent into escrow account

[Source: Civil Code §1941.1]



Definitions of Lead Hazard


Different “lead hazard” definitions for




  • State health law

  • State housing law

  • Difference is whether can presume presence of lead in pre-1978 buildings



State health law definition of “lead hazard”


  • Deteriorated lead-based paint

  • Lead contaminated dust

  • Lead contaminated soil

  • Disturbing lead-based paint without containment

  • Disturbing presumed lead-based paint without containment

  • Any other nuisance

  • No de minimis

[Source: 17 CCR §35037]



State housing law definition of “lead hazard” is same except:


  • Does not include:

    • “disturbing presumed lead-based paint”

    • “any other nuisance”

  • De minimis standard:

    • For “deteriorated” paint or “disturbed” paint

      • Must affect area at least:

    • Does not apply if person with 10 μg/dl

[Source: Health & Safety Code §17920.10(a),(c) and (d)]

Possible Prevention Roles


Local Enforcement Agencies


  • Under Housing Law, cite landlords for “lead hazards”

  • Under Health Law, require lead safe work practices when order work

    • Can presume presence of lead based paint when enforcing

  • When encounter unsafe work practices, stop work and require safe work practices

  • When workers violate order to use lead safe work practices, stop work and issue fine

  • Require lead safe work practices in building permits

Community-Based Organizations




  • Work with local enforcement to develop implementation plan

  • Take dust samples and refer lead hazards to local agencies for enforcement

  • Report unsafe work practices to local agencies for enforcement

  • Educate tenants about lead hazards and safe work practices

    • Encourage tenants to report violations to local agencies for enforcement

Reporting Requirements

For Blood Lead Analysis

Laboratories must report all blood lead analyses:


  • To State DHS

  • Regardless of result of analysis

  • Failure to comply punishable by $500 fine

Report shall include:



  • Test results in μg/dl

  • Date specimen taken

  • Source of specimen

  • Other identifying information including

    • Name and gender

    • Address or phone number

    • Birth date

    • Health care provider

    • Analyzing laboratory

Timing of report shall be:



  • Within 3 days if result is 10 μg/dl or more

  • Within 30 days if result is less than 10 μg/dl

[Source: Health and Safety Code §124130]





Western Center on Law and Poverty


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