EPA Could Toughen Lead Dust Hazard Standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a proposal to strengthen the lead dust hazard standards for window sills and floors, though the agency says it shouldn’t affect the Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule.

“Reducing childhood lead exposure is a top priority for EPA,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Lead-contaminated dust from chipped and peeling lead-based paint is one of the most common causes of elevated blood lead levels in children. Strengthening the standards for lead in dust is an important component of EPA’s strategy to curtail childhood lead exposure.”

The agency is proposing to change the lead dust hazard standards (DLHS) on window sills from 250 micrograms per square foot to 100 micrograms per square foot and on floors from 40 micrograms per square foot to 10 micrograms per square foot. These standards apply to most pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities, such as day care centers and kindergarten facilities. In addition, EPA won’t change the definition of lead-based paint because the agency currently lacks sufficient information to support such a change.

Because of that, EPA says there will be no changes to the RRP rule.

“The existing RRP work practices are required where lead-based paint is present (or assumed to be present), and are not predicated on dust-lead loadings exceeding the hazard standard,” the agency wrote in its rule proposal. “The existing RRP regulations do not require dust sampling prior to or at the conclusion of a renovation and, therefore, will not be directly affected by a change to the DLHS.”

The RRP rule requires any renovation work — and all door and window replacements — that disturbs more than six square feet of a pre-1978 home’s interior to follow work practices to protect residents from exposure to lead. The work must be supervised by an EPA-certified renovator and performed by an EPA-certified renovation firm.

After the notice is published in the Federal Register, EPA will accept comments on the proposed rule for 45 days in docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2018-0166.

Read the proposed rule.

Title IV of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) requires EPA to establish hazard standards for lead-contaminated dust. In 2001, EPA set standards for lead in dust for window sills and floors in housing. Since 2001, advances in science show that lead causes human health effects at lower blood lead levels than previously analyzed.

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