The company behind popular Indianapolis-based HGTV show “Good Bones” is to pay a $40,000 fine for allegedly violating a federal lead paint law, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA announced Friday that it has reached an agreement with Two Chicks and a Hammer, Inc. — the company founded by mother-daughter duo Karen E. Laine and Mina Starsiak Hawk — to resolve the alleged violations described in the episode.
As of 2017, the company carried out renovations at three different properties in the city. Two were in the Bates-Hendricks neighborhood and the other was east of Fall Creek Place. All three homes, however, were built before 1978, when the federal government banned lead-based paint.
The EPA alleges that Two Chicks and a Hammer carried out its renovations at these properties without complying with the requirements of the Federal Renovation, Repair and Lead Painting Rule. Specifically, the consent order states that the company was not certified to perform this work and failed to properly contain and transport the waste to prevent the release of lead dust and debris.
“Compliance with federal lead paint laws is critical to protecting children across the country and is a priority for the EPA,” Debra Shore, administrator for EPA Region 5, which contains Indiana, said in a statement. communicated. “With so many people watching TV shows like these for advice on renovating their own homes, it’s extremely important that these shows demonstrate lead-free working practices.
The agency was unable to immediately respond to questions from IndyStar about how many other Indianapolis companies had been cited for violating the lead paint rule., or how the $40,000 fine compares to others involving similar allegations. In determining the amount, according to the settlement, the agency considered the circumstances, extent and severity of the alleged violations.
Reducing lead exposure in children is a high priority, the EPA said. The settlement supports the agency’s ongoing commitment to achieving this goal and reducing the health impacts associated with it.
Research shows that lead can have irreversible and permanent effects, including reduced IQ, concentration, and academic achievement in children. While lead is dangerous for all children, the EPA said its harmful effects disproportionately impact environmentally-stressed, low-income families and communities.
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Hawk said his company had no control over the show’s editing process and what’s pictured is just a highlight reel that shows 42 minutes of a six-month process. She said the company has “always taken every precaution” when dealing with hazardous materials when demolishing structures.
But “that part of the process isn’t ‘interesting’ enough to cut on TV,” Hawk told IndyStar. “We value the safety of our buyers and recognize the importance of the EPA and the importance for builders to follow safe building practices.”
The company agreed to pay the penalty, but in doing so did not admit or deny the specific allegations, according to the settlement.
Since being contacted by the EPA in 2018, the company has obtained the necessary certification under the lead rule and has agreed to comply with the rule in all future retrofit activities.
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In addition to the $40,000 civil fine, Two Chicks and a Hammer must also produce a video about renovations involving lead-based paint featuring Hawk. The company is required to share this video – and another on protecting children from lead exposure – on its social media.
Good Bones isn’t the only HGTV show to have run-ins with the EPA over lead issues. The agency has settled several major rules enforcement cases with other programs in recent years, including Magnolia Homes, Rehab Addict and Bargain Mansions.
The Indianapolis reality show has also come under recent scrutiny after being criticized for its role in gentrifying the Fountain Square and Bates Hendricks neighborhoods. Hawk and Laine have renovated more than 100 homes in the area since launching Two Chicks and a Hammer in 2007.
These neighborhoods have seen soaring real estate prices and bidding wars in recent years, IndyStar reported, displacing longtime residents who can no longer afford to live there. They are then removed from revitalized areas, amenities, job opportunities and services.
Several researchers and residents say they believe the show played a role, while Laine told IndyStar she doesn’t see it that way. She said they help rehabilitate vacant housing stock and increase the value of nearby properties.
Call IndyStar reporter Sarah Bowman at 317-444-6129 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook: @IndyStarSarah. Connect with IndyStar environmental journalists: join The Scrub on Facebook.
The IndyStar Environmental Reporting Project is made possible through the generous support of the non-profit Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: HGTV show company to pay fine for alleged lead paint violation