Lead Poisoning Prevention
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Goal Four of EPA's Strategic Plan includes a goal to eliminate childhood lead poisoning in the United States as a major public health concern by the year 2010.
As a result of EPA's lead poisoning prevention programs and other efforts across the federal government, children's elevated blood-lead levels in the United States have declined dramatically. In 1978, 3-4 million children had elevated blood-lead levels. By 2002, that number had dropped to 310,000 and it continues to decline.
Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around our homes. Lead may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities to seizures and death. Children under six years of age are most at risk. Research suggests that the primary sources of lead exposure for most children are deteriorating lead-based paint, lead-contaminated dust, and lead-contaminated residential soil.
EPA has played a major role in addressing these residential lead hazards. EPA has largely completed the regulatory framework assigned to it by Congress in Title X of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 by:
- Issuing rules creating a training and certification program for individuals and firms engaged in lead-based paint activities;
- Establishing hazard standards for lead in paint, dust, and soil; and
- Requiring pre-renovation education and lead hazard disclosure in target housing.
In order to meet the 2010 federal government goal of eliminating childhood lead poisoning as a major public health concern, EPA is focusing funding resources on the most vulnerable populations in state, localities and tribal areas -- those that have rates of lead poisoning above the national average and those in areas where sufficient screening has not yet occurred to determine rates of lead poisoning. EPA has addressed populations still at risk for elevated blood-lead levels through three competitive grant programs. The grants are available to a wide range of applicants, including state and local governments, federally-recognized Indian tribes and tribal consortia, territories, institutions of higher learning, and nonprofit organizations.
- In another step to achieve the 2010 goal, in March 2008 OPPT finalized its Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting rule requiring persons engaged in renovation, repair, and painting activities in pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities to be trained and certified and to use lead-safe work practices for activities that disturb lead-based paint. The purpose of the rule is to reduce potential exposure to dangerous levels of lead resulting from disturbing lead-based paint in older housing. OPPT also released several outreach documents relating to the rule, including:
- Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools (PDF) (20 pp, 626K, About PDF) En Español (PDF) (20 pp, 3.2MB, About PDF)
- Contractors: Lead Safety During Renovation (PDF) (2 pp, 1.5MB, About PDF) HTML version En Español (PDF) (2 pp, 799K, About PDF)
- EPA Small Entity Compliance Guide to Renovate Right (PDF) (34 pp, 2.5MB, About PDF)
- On August 21, 2008, EPA issued a proposed rule to modify and lower the existing fees for various EPA accredidations and certifications under the Agency's Lead-based Paint Activities regulations. The proposed rule would establish fees charged for training programs seeking accreditation, for firms engaged in renovations seeking certification, and for individuals (for example, risk assessors) or firms engaged in lead-based paint activities seeking certification. The proposed rule would apply only in those states and tribes without their own authorized lead programs. The proposed rule would also establish fees for the new Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting rule. The fees are required under section 402 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to recover the cost of administering and enforcing the law's requirements. Read EPA's fact sheet on the proposed rule.
- In 2007 and 2008, EPA awarded approximately 96 grants as part of three competitive grant programs aimed at promoting efforts to prevent or reduce childhood lead poisoning.
In 2007, EPA awarded more than $5.2 million in targeted grants to 49 projects in areas with high incidences of children with elevated blood-lead levels in vulnerable populations.
In 2007 and 2008, EPA awarded more than $5.1 million in national community-based grants to 23 projects to reduce the incidence of childhood lead poisoning in communities with older housing and to support community activities such as outreach, training, and local ordinance development projects.
In 2007 and 2008, EPA awarded nearly $1.5 million in Tribal lead grants to 23 tribal projects to reduce the incidence of childhood lead poisoning in tribal communities and will fund educational outreach and baseline assessments of Tribal children's lead exposure.
- EPA and the Sierra Club reached a settlement on a lawsuit that came after EPA denied a petition filed by the Sierra Club under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). In this petition, the Sierra Club expressed concerns about risks to children from products containing lead, such as toy jewelry, and requested that EPA take certain actions to address these risks. Under TSCA Section 21, any person may petition EPA to issue, amend, or repeal a rule under other sections of TSCA. On April 30, 2007, fulfilling actions agreed to in the lawsuit settlement (PDF) (7pp, 406KB, About PDF) with the Sierra Club regarding lead in children’s products, EPA sent:
- A letter to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) (PDF) (2pp, 72KB, About PDF) describing its continuing concerns about the presence of lead in children's products
- Letters to 120 companies (PDF) (3pp, 115KB, About PDF) alerting them to reporting requirements under TSCA section 8(e).
Under the settlement, EPA also agreed to conduct a rulemaking to obtain existing health and safety studies on lead in children's products. The rule was issued January 29, 2008.
- EPA joined the CPSC in publicizing recalls of toys containing lead to alert parents.