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EPA Proposes Rule to Lead-Based Paint Standards

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has put forward a proposal to enhance requirements for dealing with lead-based paint hazards in buildings constructed before 1978 and child-care facilities. This proposed rule aims to safeguard children and communities from the harmful effects of lead paint dust exposure.

Approximately 39,000 small businesses, including landlords, owners and operators of child-occupied facilities, residential remodelers, abatement firms, real estate agents, and brokers, would be directly affected by this rule.

The proposed rule seeks to strengthen EPA regulations under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by revising two key standards:

  1. Dust-Lead Hazard Standards (DLHS): These standards identify hazardous lead levels in dust found on floors and windowsills.
      • The proposal intends to lower the DLHS from the current 10 micrograms per square foot (µg/ft2) for floors and 100 µg/ft2 for windowsills to any reportable level greater than zero. This change acknowledges that no level of lead in dust has been deemed safe for children.
  2. Dust-Lead Clearance Levels (DLCL): These levels indicate the maximum amount of lead allowed in dust on floors, window sills, and window troughs after lead removal activities.
    • The proposal aims to reduce the DLCL from 10 µg/ft2 to 3 µg/ft2 for floors, from 100 µg/ft2 to 20 µg/ft2 for windowsills, and from 400 µg/ft2 to 25 µg/ft2 for window troughs. These are considered the lowest dust-lead levels that the EPA believes can be reliably and effectively achieved after abatement activities.

To comply with this proposed rule, property owners, lead-based paint professionals, and government agencies will use DLHS to identify dust-lead hazards in residential and childcare facilities built before 1978. If any lead-based paint activities, like abatement, are carried out, individuals and firms must be certified and follow specific work practices set by EPA’s Lead-Based Paint Activities Program. After abatement, testing is required to ensure dust lead levels are below the DLCL before considering the abatement complete.

The EPA is inviting public comments on this proposal for 60 days via docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2023-0231 at www.regulations.gov.

Upcoming Lead-Based Paint Virtual Workshop

In October, the EPA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) plan to conduct a virtual public workshop to gather stakeholder perspectives on specific topics related to low levels of lead in existing paint. This includes potential health effects, the relationship between lead-based paint and dust-lead, possible exposure pathways, and technologies for detecting, measuring, and characterizing low levels of lead in paint.

The 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. The insights shared during the workshop will help inform their joint effort to revisit the federal definition of lead-based paint and revise it if needed.

For more information, check for updates on the Lead-Based Paint Virtual Workshop.

Jeremy Hancher is the EMAP Program Manager located at the Widener University SBDC.  He holds over 15 years of experience in environmental compliance, environmental policy, and program management.  He is proud to be the team lead of the award-winning EMAP program which provides free and confidential environmental assistance to the Pennsylvania small business community in fulfillment of the requirements of the Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control Act and Section 507 of the federal Clean Air Act.
In 2015, Jeremy was part of the team effort when EMAP was recognized by US EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy for Outstanding Accomplishments by a State Small Business Environmental Assistance Provider in Providing Technical Environmental Assistance to the Small Business Community. Jeremy holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh, a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and a certificate from the Wharton School.