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EPA proposes tighter standard for lead dust from paint

Peeling lead paint.
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposedtighter standards for lead in dust on floors and window sills. Lead dust can be a big source of lead exposure for kids when chips of old paint flake off, or when older homes are renovated. The proposed standards would affect most homes built before 1978 and places where kids spend a lot of time, like day care centers.

Rebecca Meuninck is the deputy director of the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor.

“We are very happy that the proposal is finally coming out. To be frank, it’s long overdue," she says. "The last standard for lead dust hazards was set in 2001, and we know so much more about low levels of lead and how dangerous they can be for children, so we’re happy to see that finally, the EPA has improved that standard.”

As the EPA explains on its website:

EPA 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 day care centers and kindergarten facilities. In addition, EPA is proposing no changes to the current definition of lead-based paint because the Agency currently lacks sufficient information to support such a change.

Last December, a federal appeals court ordered the EPAto propose a new standard for lead inside homes within 90 days (the agency got an extension in March). Environmental groups had sued to get the EPA to act more quickly.

Meuninck says if this proposal is finalized as it stands now, there are a number of things that it could mean for the average person who lives in a home or apartment built before 1978.

"First of all, many homeowners are not necessarily aware that they should be thinking about the age of their home, the paint on their home, the age of their windows and if they may have lead paint on them, and the fact that they should be renovating in a lead-safe way," she says.

You can learn more about lead-safe renovation here.

The EPA did not respond to our interview request by our deadline. 

Rebecca Williams is senior editor in the newsroom, where she edits stories and helps guide news coverage.
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