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EPA and HUD announce new lead dust standards to protect children’s health

06/21/2019
Contact Information: 
Lisa McClain-Vanderpool (mcclain-vanderpool.lisa@epa.gov)
303-312-6077

Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler, along with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, announced new, tighter standards for lead in dust on floors and window sills to protect children from the harmful effects of lead exposure. EPA Region 8 Regional Administrator Gregory Sopkin participated in an event today alongside Evelyn Lim, HUD Region 8 Regional Administrator and Robin Hickey, Deputy Director of the Denver Urban Renewal Authority at EPA’s Regional Office in downtown Denver.

“EPA is delivering on our commitment in the Trump Administration’s Federal Lead Action Plan to take important steps to reduce childhood lead exposure,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Today’s final rule is the first time in nearly two decades EPA is issuing a stronger, more protective standard for lead dust in homes and child care facilities across the country.”

“EPA’s updating its standards for lead dust on floors and window sills in pre-1978 homes and child-occupied facilities is an important advance,” said Secretary Carson. “We will use this new rule in updating the lead safety requirements for the pre-1978 housing we assist.”

“These new standards will strengthen our efforts to protect young children by reducing lead dust exposure in homes, schools and child care facilities throughout the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains states,” said EPA Regional Administrator Gregory Sopkin. “EPA, HUD, and our federal partners are committed to securing safer and healthier communities through the Federal Lead Action Plan.”

“We know that eliminating lead in housing improves health and education outcomes for children in our communities,” said Rocky Mountain Regional Administrator Evelyn Lim. “The new lead standards announced today continue our progress in helping more families live in lead-free homes by warranting earlier intervention which in turn saves health care costs.”

“Every family in our city deserves to live in a home that is safe and healthy. No one should have to worry about their children breathing lead-contaminated dust or soil,” says Robert McDonald, Executive Director and the Public Health Administrator of the Denver Department of Public Health and the Environment.

Since the 1970s, the United States has made tremendous progress in lowering children’s blood lead levels. In 2001, EPA set standards for lead in dust for floors and window sills in housing, however since that time, the best available science has evolved to indicate human health effects at lower blood lead levels than previously analyzed.

To protect children’s health and to continue making progress on this important issue, EPA is lowering the dust-lead hazard standards from 40 micrograms of lead per square foot (µg/ft2) to 10 µg/ft2 on floors and from 250 µg/ft2 to 100 µg/ft2 on window sills. The more protective dust-lead hazard standards will apply to inspections, risk assessments, and abatement activities in pre-1978 housing and certain schools, child care facilities and hospitals across the country.

Lead-contaminated dust from chipped or peeling lead-based paint is one of the most common causes of elevated blood lead levels in children. Infants and children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure because they their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults do, and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead. They can be exposed from multiple sources and may experience irreversible and life-long health effects. Lead dust can be generated when lead-based paint deteriorates or is disturbed.

The rule will become effective on 180 days after date of publication in the Federal Register.

A link to this final rule and to learn more: https://go.usa.gov/xyxmS

Reducing childhood lead exposure and addressing associated health impacts is a top priority for EPA. In December 2018 EPA Administrator Wheeler and other Federal Officials produced the Lead Action Plan, a blueprint for reducing lead exposure and associated harms by working with a range of stakeholders, including states, tribes and local communities, along with businesses, property owners and parents.

EPA continues to work with its federal partners to improve coordinated activities and implement objectives of the Lead Action Plan.

You can find out more about identifying and addressing housing health and safety hazards on HUD’s Healthy Homes website: hud.gov/healthyhomes

More about the HUD-funded program in Denver to assist 130 households through January of 2021: https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/environmental-health/public-health-inspections/lead-poisoning-prevention-program.html  

The Denver Department of Public Health & Environment’s Lead-Based Paint Hazard Control Program works to protect children from exposure to lead-based paint covers 100-percent of costs to identify and remove lead-based paint from homes. To apply for a grant, visit http://renewdenver.org/housing-rehabilitation/lead-based-paint-hazard-control-program

Learn more about EPA’s lead-based paint program: https://www.epa.gov/lead