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

06/21/2019
Contact Information: 
John Senn (senn.john@epa.gov)
(617) 918-1019

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

"Reducing children's exposure to lead is a proven way to effectively protect our children's health and improve their lives," said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deborah Szaro. "Here in New England, where we have many older houses and buildings where children live, learn, and play, these new health-protective lead dust standards will make a significant difference."

"There is no amount of lead in a child's blood that can be considered safe," said David Tille, HUD New England Regional Administrator. "We have an obligation to the families we serve to protect their children. By tightening our standards, we can act more quickly and make certain the homes we support are as safe as possible."

"We in the Region 1 New England Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (Region 1 PEHSU) applaud the new rule announced today by the EPA to lower the amount of lead permissible in interior household dust. This rule will strengthen the efforts to lower the risk that young children will be exposed to lead in their everyday environment and its harmful effects on their health," said Alan Woolf, MD, MPH, Director of the Pediatric Environmental Health Center, Boston Children's Hospital.

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 µg/ft2 to 10 µg/ft2 on floors and from 250 µg/ft2 to 100 µg/ft2 on window sills. The revised, more protective standards lower the level of lead in dust that may warrant measures to reduce risks.

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 can cause 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 date of 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.