EPA Proposes New Dust-Lead Standards
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released late last week (June 22) a proposal to lower the dust-lead hazard standards. The public has 45 days from the proposal’s release to comment on the new standards.
The EPA’s action stems from a December 2017 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which ruled that the agency must re-evaluate the risks from lead paint. This was in response to a lawsuit filed in August 2016 against the EPA by a coalition of environmental and community-led organizations, who charged that the EPA had duties to uphold regarding the Toxic Substances Control Act and its amendments contained in the Paint Hazard Act.
The court ultimately ordered the EPA to revise its hazard standards for household dust that contains lead and modify its definition of lead-based paint, based on updated research that had come to light since 2001, when the agency last set its standards.
The court extended the EPA’s deadline to issue a proposal to June 26 of this year, and in the press release last week, Administrator Scott Pruitt spoke on the importance of the standards.
“Reducing childhood lead exposure is a top priority for EPA,” said Pruitt. “Lead-contaminated dust from chipped and peeling lead-based paint is one of the most common causes of elevated blood lead levels in children. Strengthening the standards for lead in dust is an important component of EPA’s strategy to curtail childhood lead exposure.”
The proposal supposes changing the dust-lead hazard standards (the amount of lead that can be found in dust and dirt before it's considered a hazard) from 40 micrograms per square foot of surface area to 10 micrograms per square foot for floors, and from 250 micrograms per square foot of surface area to 100 micrograms per square foot for window sills. These standards would encompass residencies and all child-occupied facilities.
The EPA is also proposing, however, to make no change to the definition of lead-based paint “because the agency currently lacks sufficient information to support such a change.”