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News Releases from Region 06

EPA joins HUD, Houston and Harris County officials to discuss important steps to further protect children

06/21/2019
Contact Information: 
Joe Hubbard or Jennah Durant (R6press@epa.gov)
214-665-2200

DALLAS – (June 21, 2019) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took additional steps to protect children from the harmful effects of lead exposure. Acting Region 6 Administrator David Gray participated in an event commemorating the change alongside officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), City of Houston, Houston Health Department, and Harris County Public Health. The announcement marked tighter standards for dust that contains lead, found on floors and window sills.

“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 windowsills in pre-1978 homes and child-occupied facilities is an important advance,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “We will use this new rule in updating the lead safety requirements for the pre-1978 housing we assist.”

Earlier today in Washington D.C., EPA’s Administrator Wheeler along with Secretary Carson announced the new standard.   

“Through our lead-based paint program, EPA works with our federal, state, and local partners to protect public health, especially the health of children,” said Acting EPA Regional Administrator David Gray. “The Dust-Lead Hazard Standards will contribute to this continuing effort to protect the public from health threats presented by lead-based paint.”

“I thank the EPA for doing what is necessary to protect children from lead-contaminated dust and making this important announcement in the city of Houston,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “I am concerned about the health and well-being of all children, regardless of their neighborhood or socio-economic status. We owe children an opportunity to grow up in a safe environment and this is an important step in the right direction.”

“Exposure to lead-based paint in Houston homes continues to poison our children,” said Loren Raun, Houston Health Department’s Chief Environmental Science Officer. “That’s why the Houston Health Department provides services that help lower-income households identify, remove, or stabilize lead-based paint hazards at no cost.”

“In 2017, over 1,000 children had elevated blood lead levels in Harris County. In the past three years, our Lead Hazard Control program has removed lead hazard from 188 homes in the county. Lowering the standard of lead in dust ensures sticker guidelines and help further reduce risks. With the new EPA standards aligning with the HUD guidelines we currently follow, we are committed to continue providing assistance to remove lead hazard in Harris County and protect the health of the community,” stated by Dr. Umair A. Shah, Executive Director of Harris County Public Health.

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 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 180 days after publication in the Federal Register.

A link to this final rule and to learn more: https://www.epa.gov/lead/hazard-standards-lead-paint-dust-and-soil-tsca-section-403

Learn more about the lead-based paint program: https://www.epa.gov/lead

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About EPA Region 6: https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/epa-region-6-south-central  

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