EPA: “Don’t Bring Home Lead Exposure”

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt hosted fellow Cabinet members and other key senior leaders to outline a federal strategy to reduce childhood lead exposure and associated health risks.

According to OSHA,  if you work with lead you could be bringing this toxic metal home on your clothes, shoes, skin, hair, and hands. Take-home lead can cause lead poisoning in children and other family members.

According to the CDC, at least 4 million households have children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead. There are approximately half a million U.S. children ages 1-5 with blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL), the reference level at which CDC recommends public health actions be initiated.

OSHA advises workers to stop lead from getting into your home and vehicle by always washing, showering, and changing out of your work clothes and work shoes before leaving work. OSHA has regulations to protect workers from lead exposure in both general industry (1910.1025) and construction (1926.62).

Common jobs with lead exposure are:

• Painting
• Building renovation
• Radiator repair
• Bridge work
• Shooting range work
• Demolition
• Battery manufacturing
• Metal production
• Metal scrap cutting and recycling
• Ceramic work
• Soldering
• Plumbing

According to the Administrator, “Lead exposure poses a significant health threat to hundreds of thousands of American children,” adding, “By refocusing Agency efforts, we can work with our government partners to develop solutions that address lead exposure and improve health outcomes for children.”

Pruitt was joined by members or their designees of the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children (Task Force), and other principals to collaborate on a clear direction in the development and implementation of a new Federal Strategy to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Eliminate Associated Health Impacts. 

The Task Force is co-chaired by Administrator Pruitt and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar. Notable attendees included: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Ben Carson, Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, and HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, said,  “A healthy start at home translates to a successful life outside of the home. HUD is committed to working across Federal agencies and with local communities to eradicate lead poisoning to make sure our homes are safe and ensure positive outcomes for families and their kids.”

Administrator Pruitt opened the meeting with his vision for a collaborative multi-federal agency approach to reduce childhood lead exposure across the country and his plans to make it a priority for EPA’s 2018 agenda. Following his remarks, each Task Force member or their designee shared how their respective agency can best contribute to the Task Force’s goals on lead and how the issue can be best communicated to the public.

At the meeting, attendees agreed to:

  • Make addressing childhood lead exposure a priority for Task Force departments and agencies;
  • Five goals that frame the new Federal Strategy to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Eliminate Associated Health Impacts;  
  • Set an aggressive, near-term timeline for the Task Force to complete its work to draft the strategy; and,
  • Schedule a follow-up principals meeting or event to issue the federal strategy and discuss next steps.