EPA Proposes Changes to Lead Exposure Limits

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a proposal to lower the dust-lead hazard standards for public comment. The new proposed standards for lead in dust for floors and window sills will be an important step to reduce lead exposure.

The Agency is proposing to change the dust-lead hazard standards from 40 µg/ft2 and 250 µg/ft2 to 10 µg/ft2 and 100 µg/ft2 on floors and window sills, respectively.

These standards apply to most pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities, such as daycare centers and kindergarten facilities. In addition, EPA is proposing to make no change to the definition of lead-based paint because the Agency currently lacks sufficient information to support such a change.

Title IV of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) requires EPA to establish hazard standards for lead-contaminated dust. Lead dust can be a major source of lead exposure in children. Lead dust can be generated when lead-based paint deteriorates or is disturbed (e.g., during renovation or repainting work).

In 2001, EPA set standards for lead in dust for floors and window sills in housing. Since 2001, the best available science has evolved to indicate human health effects at lower blood lead levels than previously analyzed.

During the same period, the number of children with elevated blood lead levels has continued to decline; the median blood lead level in children ages 1-5 years is now below 1µg/dL.

Reducing childhood lead exposure and addressing associated health impacts is a top priority for EPA. Lead exposure can cause a range of adverse health effects and is particularly dangerous for young children because their nervous systems are still developing.

Lead exposure continues to pose a significant health and safety threat to some children, preventing them from reaching the fullest potential of their health, their intellect, and their future.