National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

Examining Options to Reduce Lead in Drinking Water

By Joel Beauvais

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week marks a time when EPA and our federal partners promote education and awareness activities that focus on lead and how to prevent its negative health effects.  This year, we focus on the theme, “Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future.”  It’s through our joint efforts that we have been able to make significant strides in reducing exposure to lead over the past several decades.

Data show that from 1976 – 1980 the median blood lead level of a child (1-5 years old) was 15 micrograms per deciliter.  Those levels have been dramatically reduced since then, to 1 microgram per deciliter, based on the most recent data. These major improvements were made over the past several decades by removing lead from toys and lead solder in cans, taking lead out of gasoline, reducing exposure to lead in paint and dust in homes and during renovations, greatly reducing the allowable content of lead in plumbing materials in homes and other buildings, and further reducing lead in drinking water through the federal Lead and Copper Rule. Although we have taken significant steps to protect our children from the detrimental effects of lead poisoning, there’s more to do.

To further reduce exposure to lead from drinking water, EPA recognizes the need to strengthen and modernize the Lead and Copper Rule, which is now 25 years old.  EPA has been working intensely to develop proposed revisions to the LCR, and we expect to propose a rule in 2017. With that in mind, EPA is releasing a White Paper on the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions to ensure that stakeholders are informed of the options that EPA is considering as part of the rulemaking process. This paper provides examples of regulatory options that EPA is evaluating and highlights key challenges, opportunities, and analytical issues presented by these options. EPA expects the paper will help facilitate our ongoing engagement with stakeholders and the public as we work to develop a proposed rule.

Topics addressed in the white paper released today include consideration of lead service line replacement, improving optimal corrosion control treatment requirements, consideration of a health-based benchmark for household-level interventions, the potential role of point-of-use filters, clarifications or strengthening of tap sampling requirements, increased transparency, and enhanced public education requirements. Additional information under consideration includes copper requirements and addressing broader lead issues.

Many of the topics and options were developed based on recommendations from EPA’s National Drinking Water Advisory Council, the Science Advisory Board, the national experience in carrying out the requirements of the existing rule, the experience in Flint, Michigan and other cities nationwide, as well as feedback and input from a broad range of stakeholders, experts and concerned citizens.  EPA will continue to engage actively with stakeholders and we expect that this paper will help to inform that engagement as we work to develop a proposed rule for public comment. We also recognize that there may be other considerations that will need to be addressed as we continue our discussion and receive feedback through the rulemaking process.

EPA understands that there is no single answer or simple solution for reducing lead in drinking water. However, EPA is committed to ensuring that we use best available science, carry out the most robust analyses of regulatory options and are informed by stakeholder input as we update the rule to protect the American public from lead in drinking water.

Revising the Lead and Copper Rule is also part of our broader work to improve the safety and reliability of drinking water in America. Earlier this year we announced the development of a national action plan for drinking water, which will outline strategies for issues such as implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act, equity in infrastructure funding, and emerging contaminants. We expect to release this plan in the coming weeks.

To learn more visit: https://www.epa.gov/dwstandardsregulations/lead-and-copper-rule-long-term-revisions

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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It’s National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week – Why Does it Still Matter?

Lead Poisoning Prevention

The use of lead in residential paints and lead in gasoline was banned in the 1970’s, so why do we keep talking about the problem of lead in paint?

The fact is that lead in paint is still in homes built before 1978. It’s still there in millions of homes, sometimes under layers of newer paint. It’s still a hazard in deteriorating lead-based paint (peeling, chipping, chalking, cracking, damaged or damp paint, or in paint dust) and needs immediate attention.

Also, every time I look around, we are finding out more about how subtle and damaging the effects of lead can be. Even low-level lead exposure at a young age can result in a range of irreversible and untreatable lifelong health and developmental issues, such as lowered IQ, shortened attention span, and behavioral issues. Children suffering from lead poisoning or exposure can have diminished opportunities and well-being, burdening both families and societies.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week: Keeping our Kids Healthy Starts at Home

By Jess Portmess

My new nephew is still too young to pick up toys or explore the floors and walls of the house on all fours. But if his daily growth is any indication, it’s not that far off. I didn’t imagine my clerkship with EPA could make me think of him more often than I already do. Yet, he’s the face I see as I learn more about how to protect children from lead-based paint hazards. He is, after all, among those who are the most sensitive to the dangers from lead-based paint.

As a law clerk with EPA, I hope to gain a better understanding of how EPA makes concrete strides in solving big environmental problems. With hundreds of thousands of children affected by lead poisoning, I’d say the “big” shoe fits. The inspiring and motivating reality is, however, that lead poisoning is 100 percent preventable. If you live in a home built before 1978, chances are it may have lead paint. That paint can wear over time, chipping away for a curious child’s hands or turning into dust that accumulates on the floor, window troughs, and other surfaces of your home. Renovations can disturb lead paint and spread more dust. But you can prevent these risks from affecting your family by regularly cleaning your home’s surfaces, maintaining painted surfaces, having your home inspected by a lead-safe certified professional, and renovating only with lead-safe certified contractors.

This week is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, a week dedicated to raising awareness about lead paint hazards, especially in the home. This week focuses on the many ways that parents can reduce a child’s exposure to lead and prevent its serious health effects. To start, learn the facts about lead, or have your home tested. You could even ask your doctor to test your child for lead.

Preventing lead poisoning can be simple and the consequences of inaction are too terrible to ignore. Lead-contaminated dust can slow a child’s growth, inhibit his learning, and damage his brain or central nervous system. As a law student passionate about environmental law and natural resources, you learn a lot about uphill struggles where the stakes are high. For my nephew’s sake, I know I’ll keep climbing and I hope you do too.

For more information about National Lead Poisoning Prevention week visit

About the author: Jess Portmess is a law clerk in the National Program Chemicals Division of EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics. She will be graduating from American University Washington College of Law in May 2013.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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A Week for Happy, Lead-Free Kids

By Esther Kwon

Among the long list of things my parents told me to be afraid of when I was a child, lead-based paint was never one of them. Perhaps the reason why I was able to grow up without worrying about what was coating the swing set I played on and what kind of paint was on the walls in my room was because of the federal regulations and efforts made since the late 1970s to prevent children and adults from being affected by lead-based paint poisoning. However, it saddens me to know that there are still so many children who are exposed to lead-based paint hazards in and near our homes.

I came to the EPA as an intern to learn about the Agency’s regulatory rulemaking process for six months, but I did not expect to gain so much knowledge about lead hazards and safety practices. For example, I found out about the types of cognitive disorders that could occur in children from lead poisoning, and learned that even a few particles of lead in the dust are enough to poison a child. More than 1 million children are affected by lead poisoning today, and this is especially troublesome, in my opinion, because lead poisoning is 100 percent preventable. Although, as an intern, the scope of power I have at the EPA is extremely limited, I am thankful that I can assist in any way that furthers the Agency’s public health protection and education goals for lead poisoning prevention, including reaching you through this blog.

This week is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, a week dedicated to educating parents and children on the dangers of lead-based paint exposure and the importance of the health and safety of our homes. To participate, you do not have to donate money or start a march for the cause. You can help by simply spreading the knowledge to your friends and family that lead in paint is still a problem in the US and that lead-based paint exposure can be prevented. Send an E-card on lead-safe work practices or print out a poster and hang it at your work place or at school. You can also find great prevention information and a neat web tool to help parents identify common danger zones for lead in older homes built before 1978. Check it out. Read about the facts and act on them.

About the author: Esther Kwon is an intern for the Lead, Heavy Metals & Inorganics Branch in the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics. She will be returning to Smith College in December, where she will be graduating in the spring.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.