Rule Issued for Dust-Lead Standards and the Definition of Lead-Based Paint

By Sherman Botts, Brian Sobczyk and Whitney Cole

Earlier this month, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule for lead-contaminated dust and the definition of lead-based paint. The standards for floors and window sills were changed from 40 µg/ft ^2 and 250 µg/ft ^2 to 10 µg/ft ^2 and 100 µg/ft ^2, respectively. This final rule will be effective on January 6, 2020. 

The revision of these standards was part of an initiative under the 2018 Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts (Lead Action Plan), which was put into place to help the government identify and reduce lead exposure. "The Lead Action Plan will help federal agencies work strategically and collaboratively to reduce exposure to lead and improve children's health. This final rule is a component of EPA's prioritizing the important issue of childhood lead exposure because dust is a significant exposure route for young children because of their mouthing behavior and proximity to the floor," EPA stated. 

EPA further stated that it based the final rule standards and limits on the best available science and an evaluation of existing scientific literature, an analysis of achievability and careful consideration of public comments. 

Over 87 percent of homes built before 1940 likely contain lead-based paint. Further, many homes built up until 1977 could also contain lead-based paint. EPA estimated that this rule will impact approximately 15,400 small businesses, including businesses that work in the construction, demolition and home renovation sectors. Companies that will be impacted by this rule should begin analyzing what changes will need to be made to comply by the rule’s effective date of January 6, 2020. Changes might include reevaluation of dust-lead containment procedures, heightened testing procedures or post-construction cleanup and treatment evaluations. EPA's website contains further information regarding lead abatement, inspection and risk assessment for lead-based paint.  

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