August 10th, 2009

Healthy Housing Groups Petition EPA to Strengthen Outdated Standards for Lead-Based Paint and Leaded Dust

For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Phillip Dodge

WASHINGTON, DC (August 10, 2009) – The National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH), the Alliance for Healthy Homes, the Sierra Club, and other groups petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take steps to more adequately protect children from the dangers of lead-based paint and leaded dust.

NCHH and the other groups are petitioning EPA to use its authority under Section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to lower the federal dust lead and paint lead levels from the current standards and expand the scope of those standards as required by statute. Specifically, the groups demand that EPA:

  1. Lower floor dust lead hazard standards from 40 micrograms of lead per square foot of surface area (µg/ft²) to 10 µg/ft² or less.
  2. Lower windowsill dust lead hazard standards from 250 µg/ft² to 100 µg/ft² or less.
  3. Reduce the allowable amount of lead in paint and coatings in housing, child-occupied facilities, and public and commercial buildings from 0.5% by weight (5,000 parts per million [ppm]) to 0.06% by weight (600 ppm).

“Our research suggests that EPA lead dust standards are far too high to be protective,” stated Rebecca Morley, executive director for NCHH.* “The current EPA standards leave more than 30% of children at risk of lead poisoning.”

In a study published in March 2009, NCHH found that the floor dust standard is four times what it should be to protect at least 95% of children in the United States from having a concentration of lead in their blood above the current U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) level of concern.

Lead dust generated from old lead paint and contaminated soil is the primary source of exposure for young children. Since 2001, EPA has set standards for lead in dust and soil in housing. When homes are tested for lead dust by a certified risk assessor, inspector, or sampling technician, they must meet these standards to be considered “safe.”

“EPA’s standards were inadequate when created and are downright laughable today. Given what we know about lead’s deleterious impact on a child’s developing brain, it’s long past time for EPA to update the standards,” stated Patrick MacRoy, executive director for the Alliance for Healthy Homes.* In a 2007 letter to EPA, the EPA Science Advisory Boards’ Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee’s (CASAC) stated that “outdated residual surface contamination standards (i.e., dust lead cleanup levels of 40 µg/ft² for floors and 250 µg/ft² for windowsills) are being used that are insufficiently protective of children’s health, as indicated by recent epidemiological studies.”

EPA reports that about 250,000 children aged one to five years have a blood lead level of 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (µg/dL) or greater based on a CDC survey conducted from 2001 to 2004. No safe level of exposure to lead has ever been established. Lead poisoning of young children results in cognitive impairment that can never be regained and is associated with behavioral disorders.

Please click here to read the full petition.


*Updates to This Article

Due to its age, some portions of this article that were accurate at the time of its publication are no longer so. To avoid confusion, NCHH has added the following notes, corrections, and/or updates:

  1. Ms. Rebecca Morley served as NCHH’s executive director until December 2014. Amanda Reddy is now NCHH’s executive director. 
  2. Patrick MacRoy served as the Alliance for Healthy Homes’ third (and final) executive director until the Alliance merged with NCHH in 2010. 
August 10th, 2009 | Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,