EPA Proposal Strengthens Regulations and Protects Children from Exposure to Lead-Contaminated Dust
WASHINGTON (June 17, 2020) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposal to reduce the amount of lead that can remain in dust on floors and windowsills after lead removal activities to better protect children from the harmful effects of lead exposure. The proposed, tighter standards would increase the effectiveness of work done to remove lead-based paint hazards in pre-1978 homes and childcare facilities, known as abatement, and lower the risk of lead exposure by ensuring that lead-based paint hazards are effectively and permanently eliminated following completion of the work.
“Lead exposure disproportionately impacts children, especially those in low-income communities. That is why the Trump Administration is committed to tackling this problem head on,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Today’s proposal aims to reduce one of the most common causes of elevated blood lead levels in children and is a major step toward achieving the goals laid out in the Federal Lead Action Plan.”
“We know that a healthy home is foundational for healthy children and families,” Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson said. “The EPA’s proposal to reduce lead hazards in housing after abatement is part of this Administration’s continued efforts to ensure healthy homes for all Americans.”
When actions are taken to remove lead from homes and child care facilities, those buildings must then be tested to make sure that the cleaning activities were successful. These “clearance levels” indicate that lead dust was effectively removed at the end of the abatement work. Today’s proposal would lower the clearance levels for dust on floors and windowsills after lead removal activities from 40 micrograms (µg) of lead in dust per square foot (ft2) to 10 µg/ft2 for floor dust and from 250 µg/ft2 to 100 µg/ft2 for windowsill dust. EPA is proposing these new lower clearance levels to reduce the lead dust related risks to children specifically in pre-1978 homes and child care facilities where lead abatement activities have taken place.
Since the 1970s, the United States has made significant progress in lowering children's blood lead levels. In 2001, EPA set standards for lead in dust for floors and windowsills in housing and child care facilities, however since that time, the best available science has evolved to indicate human health effects at lower blood lead levels than previously analyzed.
Lead-contaminated dust, such as from chipped or peeling lead-based paint, is one of the most common causes of elevated blood lead levels in children. Lead dust can be generated when lead-based paint deteriorates or is disturbed. Lead exposure, particularly at higher doses, can pose a significant health and safety threat to children and can cause irreversible and life-long health effects.
Learn more about how you can reduce the risk of lead exposure to your children or in your community: https://www.epa.gov/lead/protect-your-family-exposures-lead
Learn more about the lead-based paint program: https://www.epa.gov/lead
Learn about EPA’s continues to work with its federal partners to improve coordinated activities and implement objectives of the Lead Action Plan: https://www.epa.gov/lead/federal-action-plan-reduce-childhood-lead-exposure
Last year, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson joined Administrator Wheeler to announce stronger, more protective standards for determining when lead in dust presents a human health hazard. In addition to reducing childhood exposures to lead from lead-based paint, EPA has made tremendous gains in reducing lead exposure and associated harms from other sources. Some highlights include:
October 2019 – EPA’s proposed Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) includes a suite of actions to reduce lead exposure in drinking water where it is needed the most.
October 2019 – EPA signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that provides a framework for a coordinated approach between more than a dozen critical partners across the federal government, tribes, water utilities and the public health community.
October 2019 – EPA announced 117 federal enforcement actions completed over the last year to ensure entities like renovation contractors, landlords and property managers are in compliance with regulations that require them to protect communities and the public from exposures to lead.
April 2019 – EPA announced the initial availability of grant funding to assist states, tribes, and territories with improving drinking water. States, tribes, and territories are eligible to receive funding from EPA drinking water grant programs established by the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN): Under EPA’s Voluntary Lead Testing in Schools and Child Care grant program, EPA awarded $43.7 million in grants in 2018-2019 and will be awarding $26 million in new funding in 2020 to fund testing for lead in drinking water at schools and child care programs. Testing results carried out using grant funds must be made publicly available. Under EPA’s Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities grant program, EPA awarded $42.8 million in grants to support underserved communities with bringing public drinking water systems into compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. Funding can also be used for conducting household water quality testing, including testing for unregulated contaminants. Under EPA’s Reduction in Lead Exposure [through Infrastructure Improvements in Drinking Water Systems and in Schools and Child Care Facilities] grant program, EPA is making available $39.9 million to assist disadvantaged communities with removing sources of lead in drinking water from drinking water systems and schools.
December 2018 – EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, and U.S. Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan unveiled the Trump Administration’s Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts (Lead Action Plan). Developed through cross-governmental collaboration of the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children, which includes 17 federal departments and offices, the Lead Action Plan is 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.