Court Orders EPA to Take Action on Lead Paint


On Wednesday (Dec. 27, 2017), a San Francisco-based federal appeals court ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to take action within the next 90 days to revise standards that protect children from lead paint.

Lead Paint Standard

With no updates since the early 2000s, the current lead paint standard remains an issue. According to the Washington Examiner, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that the EPA has taken too long in updating the lead paint and dust-lead standards.

The court cited the fact that the EPA is required to act more quickly under the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, due to the fact that lead paint is more dangerous to children than previously thought.

In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated there is no known safe level of lead that can enter the bloodstream. According to The New York Times, lead poisoning is the top environmental health threat in the U.S. for children six years old and younger.

The last standard set for lead contamination levels in dust and soil in home was set by the EPA in 2001.

EPA Action

Petitioners in 2009 asked the EPA to provide more adequate protection for children by providing more stringent lead paint standards.

In 2011, the agency acknowledged the need for stricter rules, but did not provide a timetable nor made any move to propose a rule.

In August 2016, the same petitioners approached the 9th Circuit Appeals Court, requesting that the court rule that the EPA’s delay was unreasonable.

According to the Examiner, the Trump administration informed the court that it would likely take another six years for a new rule to be issued.

Judge Mary Shroeder ordered the EPA to propose a new rule within 90 days and issue something final within a year, citing that the agency did not provide “an alternative timeline, other than its vague intention to issue a proposed rule in four years and a final rule in six, a timeline we hold to be unreasonable.”

As it stands, the EPA has taken more than eight years (to date) to propose a rule, and has “disavowed any interest in working with petitioners to develop an appropriate timeline through mediation,” Shroeder noted. “We are also mindful of the severe risks to children of lead poisoning under EPA’s admittedly insufficient standards.”

A spokesperson for the EPA has indicated the agency is reviewing the court’s ruling, while also noting that the agency will continue to work to address issues surrounding childhood lead exposure.


Tagged categories: Coating Materials; Good Technical Practice; Government; Health and safety; Lead; North America

Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.