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EPA Takes Important Step to Further Protect Children from Exposure to Lead-Contaminated Dust

06/21/2019
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PHILADELPHIA, June 21, 2019 — 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 Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio participated in an event today alongside representatives from the U.S. Department of Department of Housing and Urban Development, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the Overbrook Environmental Education Center, and other state and local officials at Overbrook Environmental Education Center in Philadelphia.

“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 cares about children’s health and protecting children from lead hazards,” said Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “Establishing new lead hazard standards and tightening regulations on activities involving lead-based paint will better protect children and families here in the Philadelphia area and other communities where federal, state and local efforts can make a difference.”

“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 Secretary Carson. “We will use this new rule in updating the lead safety requirements for the pre-1978 housing we assist.”

 “Ingestion of lead-contaminated soil and dust through hand to mouth behaviors is a major contributor to increased blood lead levels in children,” said Dr. Laura Anderko, Director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children's Health and the Environment. “EPA’s proposed dust-lead hazard standards will provide more protection by reducing lead levels in homes and facilities where children spend a great deal of time, such as day care centers.”

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 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

Background

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.