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EPA proposes tightening standards for lead-safe renovation practices and lead paint dust to protect children (10/23)

October 23, 2009
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is marking National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week by announcing several actions the agency proposes to take to prevent lead poisoning. Lead poisoning may cause a variety of adverse health effects, including brain and nervous system disorders, high blood pressure, and hypertension. Children six years old and under are most at risk.

EPA has issued a proposed rule to expand the coverage of the 2008 Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule. The new rule proposes to eliminate a provision that exempted some housing from the rule’s requirement that contractors be trained and certified and use lead-safe work practices when renovating, repairing or painting a pre-1978 home.

“This proposed rule will further increase protections for children and their families from lead-based paint hazards associated with home renovation and repair, “ said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. “The administration is demonstrating its continued commitment to eliminating childhood lead poisoning and strengthening lead poisoning-prevention efforts with the announcement of these actions during National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.’

The federal government banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978. However, if a home was built before 1978, it has a higher likelihood of containing lead-based paint. The 2008 rule requires contractors working in pre-1978 housing where children under six or pregnant women reside take the proper precautions to work lead-safe work, including minimizing the dust, containing the work area, and conducting a thorough cleanup to reduce the potential exposure associated with disturbing lead-based paint. This rule would expand such requirements to cover most pre-1978 homes.

EPA also announced that it will propose to modify the regulatory hazard standard for lead in dust so that it is based on the most recent science. The agency also will work with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to propose to modify the regulatory definition of lead-based paint. The National Center for Healthy Housing and several other citizens groups had petitioned the agency on these issues, making the point that current standards are outdated.

EPA will take comment on the proposal for 30 days and expects to finalize the rule by April 2010.

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