New Standards Set For Lead In Paint, Dust And Soil

As part of EPA’s ongoing efforts to protect children from lead poisoning, the Agency announces tough, new standards to identify dangerous levels of lead in paint, dust and soil. These new national standards are more protective than previous EPA guidance and will, for the first time, provide home owners, school and playground administrators, childcare providers and others with standards to protect children from hazards posed by lead, including children in federally-owned housing.

Under these new standards, federal agencies, including Housing and Urban Development, as well as state, local and tribal governments will have new uniform benchmarks on which to base remedial actions taken to safeguard children and the public from the dangers of lead. These standards will also apply to other Federal lead provisions, such as EPA’s real estate disclosure requirements presently in place for people selling or renting a home or apartment. These hazard standards will also serve as general guidance for other EPA programs engaged in toxic waste cleanups. In addition, these standards will provide landlords, parents, and childcare providers with specific levels on which to make informed decisions regarding lead found in their homes, yards, or play areas.

Health problems from exposure to lead can include profound developmental and neurological impairment in children. Lead poisoning has been linked to mental retardation, poor academic performance and juvenile delinquency. Nearly one million children in America today have dangerously elevated levels of lead in their blood. Because of the potential dangers, any exposure to deteriorated lead-based paint presents a hazard.

Under the new standards, lead is considered a hazard if there are greater than: 40 micrograms of lead in dust per square foot on floors; 250 micrograms of lead in dust per square foot on interior window sills; and 400 parts per million (ppm) of lead in bare soil in children’s play areas or 1200 ppm average for bare soil in the rest of the yard.

Identifying lead hazards through these standards will allow inspectors and risk assessors to assist property owners in deciding how to address problems which may include lead paint abatement, covering or removing soil or professional cleaning of lead dust.

This action appears in the January 5, 2001 Federal Register. More information is available through the National Lead Information Center (NLIC) at 1-800-424-LEAD(5323).