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Lead in the News
WASHINGTON (July 12, 2023) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposal to strengthen requirements for the removal of lead-based paint hazards in pre-1978 buildings and child care facilities, known as abatement activities
“There is no safe level of lead. Even low levels are detrimental to children’s health, and this proposal would bring us closer to eradicating lead-based paint hazards from homes and child care facilities across the U.S..
If finalized, the proposed rule would strengthen EPA’s regulations under section 402 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by revising the dust-lead hazard standards (DLHS), which identify hazardous lead in dust on floors and window sills, and the dust-lead clearance levels (DLCL), the amount of lead that can remain in dust on floors, window sills and window troughs after lead removal activities.
Today’s proposal would reduce the DLHS from 10 micrograms per square foot (µg/ft2) for floors and 100 µg/ft2 for window sills to any reportable level greater than zero in recognition of the fact that there is no level of lead in dust that has been found to be safe for children. Today’s proposal would lower the DLCL from 10 µg/ft2 to 3 µg/ft2 for floors, from 100 µg/ft2 to 20 µg/ft2 for window sills, and from 400 µg/ft2 to 25 µg/ft2 for window troughs, which are the lowest post-abatement dust-lead levels that the Agency believes can be reliably and effectively achieved.
Property owners, lead-based paint professionals and government agencies use the DLHS to identify dust-lead hazards in residential and childcare facilities built before 1978. If a lead-based paint activity such as abatement is performed, EPA's Lead-Based Paint Activities Program requires individuals and firms performing the abatement to be certified and follow specific work practices. Following such an abatement, testing is then required to ensure dust lead levels are below the DLCL before an abatement can be considered complete.
Historically, EPA’s DLHS and DLCL have been set at the same levels. This action proposes to decouple the DLHS and the DLCL, which were last updated in 2019 and 2021, respectively. This is being done in accordance with a May 2021 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion, which explains that DLHS must be based solely on health factors, while the DLCL must consider the additional factors of safety, effectiveness and reliability. Today’s proposal aligns the DLHS and DLCL with the best available science, further strengthening EPA’s efforts to protect children from lead hazards.
Although the federal government banned lead-based paint for residential use in 1978, it is estimated that 31 million pre-1978 houses still contain lead-based paint, and 3.8 million of them have one or more children under the age of 6 living there, creating health and developmental risks for children. Lead-contaminated dust is one of the most common causes of elevated blood lead levels in children. Lead dust commonly occurs when lead-based paint deteriorates or is disturbed. Due to normal behaviors such as crawling and hand-to-mouth activities, young children are at particularly at risk of higher exposure to ingesting lead-containing dust. Lead exposure can pose a significant health and safety threat to children and can cause irreversible and life-long health effects, including behavioral problems, lower IQ, slowed growth and more.
EOHS Speaker Series: 50 Years of Peeling Away the Lead Paint Problem
November 10, 2022 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. CST
University of Illinois Chicago speaker series. Attend via Zoom. The zoom link is on the page.
May 2, 2022
Known to be toxic for a century, lead still poisons thousands of Midwestern kids
When the pediatrician recommended Lisa Pascoe have her then-toddler tested for lead poisoning, she thought there was no way he could be at risk. Everything in her St. Louis, Mo., home had been remodeled.
But then the nurse called to say her son's blood lead level was dangerously high — five times the level federal health officials then deemed elevated.
Pascoe said she was "completely shocked."
"After you hang up on the phone, you kind of go through this process of 'Oh my gosh, my kid is lead poisoned. What does that mean? What do I do?'" she said.
That same week, St. Louis city health workers came out to test the home to identify the source of the lead.
The culprit? The paint on the home's front window.
January 21, 2022
EPA Affirms Building Managers Responsible for Lead-Based Paint Safety Requirements When Performing Renovations
WASHINGTON (Jan. 21, 2022) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will proceed on March 21, 2022 to withdraw previously published answers to two Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) concerning property management companies and their compliance responsibility under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Lead Renovation Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule. With the withdrawal of these FAQs, EPA affirms that property management companies (PMCs) that perform, offer, or claim to perform regulated renovations in pre-1978 housing or child-occupied facilities are required to obtain certification from the EPA and ensure that renovations in the homes they manage are performed by certified firms and employees trained to use lead-safe work practices. Withdrawing the PMC FAQs signals that EPA plans to hold both the PMCs and the contractors they hire responsible for compliance if the circumstances indicate that both entities performed or offered to perform renovations for compensation in target housing or child-occupied facilities.
“Compliance with the lead-based paint RRP rule’s requirements protects people, especially young children, from the hazardous effects of lead,” said Larry Starfield, Acting Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “With this action EPA is notifying property management companies that EPA will assess RRP Rule compliance based on the broadly applicable language of the RRP rule, whether the property management company uses its own employees or hires an outside firm to perform the renovation.”
“Providing equal protections for all communities from the dangers of lead-based paint means we need to hold everyone equally accountable for following the requirements of the RRP rule,” said Michal Freedhoff, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “Following lead-safe work practices will help reduce exposure to lead and keep children and workers healthy.”
On November 4, 2021, EPA published a notice in the Federal Register explaining the rationale for the withdrawal and requested public comment to identify any relevant information that could change the EPA’s decision to withdraw the two FAQs. The notice explained that, following the comment period and the agency’s consideration of comments received by that date, the EPA intended to post a memorandum that states whether the withdrawal will take effect as planned.
The RRP rule protects residents of pre-1978 homes from lead-based paint disturbed during renovation, repair, or painting activities. The rule requires that firms that perform or offer to perform renovations in pre-1978 houses need to be certified by the EPA and assign individuals who have been trained to use lead-safe work practices; disclose important safety information to residents prior to the work; and document their compliance with the rule. This is especially important to underserved and overburdened communities, which often include a high proportion of rental housing managed by PMCs, and the military community, where family housing is also often managed by PMCs.
Compliance with the RRP rule’s requirements protects people from the hazardous health effects of lead. Lead-contaminated dust from chipped or peeling lead-based paint in homes built prior to 1978 presents one of the most common causes of elevated blood lead levels in children. Infants and children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure because their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults do, and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead.