Recently the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposal to strengthen requirements for the removal of lead-based paint hazards in pre-1978 buildings and childcare facilities, known as abatement activities, to better protect children and communities from the harmful effects of exposure to dust generated from lead paint. The proposed rule is estimated to reduce the lead exposures of approximately 250,000 to 500,000 children under the age of six per year.
If finalized, it would also strengthen EPA’s regulations under section 402 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by revising the dust-lead hazard standards (DLHS), which identify hazardous lead in dust on floors and window sills, and the dust-lead clearance levels (DLCL), the amount of lead that can remain in dust on floors, window sills and window troughs after lead removal activities.
Effectively, the rule would reduce the DLHS from 10 micrograms per square foot (µg/ft2) for floors and 100 µg/ft2 for window sills to any reportable level greater than zero in recognition of the fact that there is no level of lead in dust that has been found to be safe for children. The proposal would also lower the DLCL from 10 µg/ft2 to 3 µg/ft2 for floors, from 100 µg/ft2 to 20 µg/ft2 for window sills, and from 400 µg/ft2 to 25 µg/ft2 for window troughs, which are the lowest post-abatement dust-lead levels that the Agency believes can be reliably and effectively achieved.
Property owners, lead-based paint professionals and government agencies use the DLHS to identify dust-lead hazards in residential and childcare facilities built before 1978. If a lead-based paint activity such as abatement is performed, EPA’s Lead-Based Paint Activities Program requires individuals and firms performing the abatement to be certified and follow specific work practices. Following such an abatement, testing is then required to ensure dust lead levels are below the DLCL before an abatement can be considered complete.
EPA will accept public comments on the proposal for 60 days following publication via docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2023-0231 at www.regulations.gov.
Upcoming Lead-Based Paint Virtual Workshop
EPA and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are also planning a virtual public workshop for October to hear stakeholder perspectives on specific topics related to low levels of lead in existing paint, including the potential health effects, the relationship between lead-based paint and dust-lead, possible exposure pathways, and technologies for detection, measurement, and characterization of low levels of lead in paint. EPA and HUD are also interested in any available information on lead-based paint characteristics and medical evidence related to low levels of lead in paint. EPA and HUD will use information shared during the workshop to inform their joint effort to revisit the federal definition of lead-based paint and revise it, if necessary.