EPA Releases Lead Progress Report
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week by releasing a Progress Report on the Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts.
The emailed report outlines key EPA actions that have been taken since December 2018, when the action plan was unveiled.
“Through the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children, EPA is leading efforts to reduce childhood lead exposure in the United States,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
“In addition to delivering on our Federal Lead Action Plan goals, EPA recently proposed the first major update in over two decades to the Lead and Copper Rule. I am proud of the progress we have made under the Trump Administration to protect the health and future of our nation’s children.”
Through cross-governmental collaborations, public partnerships, rulemaking processes, enforcement actions and targeted outreach, the EPA says it has made gains to reduce lead exposure and associated harms.
Earlier this month, the EPA proposed a rule amendment that would be the first significant overhaul of the Lead and Copper Rule since 1991. The proposal was announced Oct. 10 by EPA Regional Administrator Mike Stoker during an event in Las Vegas. According to The Washington Post, the EPA’s proposal aims at improving how communities test for lead in drinking water, as well as spurring quicker response times if problems become evident.
According to the EPA, the proposal is a holistic rule amendment, with planned results to include requiring water systems to act sooner in order to better public health and reduce lead levels, facilitate transparency and communications, and improve the protection of both children and the most at-risk communities. The public comment period for that proposal is ongoing.
Early this summer, the EPA announced new standards for lead, specifically found in dust on floors, windowsills and miscellaneous surfaces to protect children from its harmful effects.
The EPA lowered the dust-lead hazard standards from 40 micrograms of lead per square foot to 10 micrograms per square foot on floors and from 250 micrograms to 100 micrograms on windowsills.
That standard will apply to all inspections, risk assessments and abatement activities in various hospitals, childcare facilities, certain schools and housing built before 1978.
And at the end of April, the EPA announced the availability of nearly $87 million in grant funding to assist states, tribes and territories with improving drinking water.
States, tribes and territories are eligible to receive funding from two new EPA drinking water grant programs established by the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN): the Voluntary Lead Testing in Schools and Child Care grant program, which will award $43.7 million in grants to fund testing for lead in drinking water at schools and child care programs; and the Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities grant program, which will award $42.8 million in grants to support underserved communities with bringing public drinking water systems into compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act.
"While many strides have been made in the prevention and treatment of lead-based illnesses, we hope to eradicate all need for these standards,” said Patrick Carolan, Executive Director Franciscan Action Network.
“We applaud the EPA and all advocates for their efforts to protect current and future generations from exposures to lead-containing paint and dust, contaminated drinking water and soil, among other health risks.”