Making Strides on Our Lead Reduction Initiatives
By Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
One of our greatest responsibilities here at EPA and in the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) is to protect public health, especially the health of those who are more vulnerable, such as children. We know that children are especially sensitive to the potential health effects of many hazards, particularly lead. For this year’s National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, I’d like to highlight how we’re working to protect those Americans that are most affected by the health impacts of lead exposure, specifically our efforts under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
This June, we announced a stronger, more protective standard for lead dust in homes and child-occupied facilities across the country – the first time in nearly two decades that EPA has strengthened these standards. We now are working on the lead dust clearance rule to make it consistent with the final revisions to the dust-lead hazard standards. To update the dust-lead clearance levels, EPA plans to take several steps such as conducting health, exposure, and economic analyses.
In addition, EPA regularly conducts hundreds of compliance assistance and outreach activities that support abatement, risk assessment and inspection components of the Lead-Based Paint Program. The Agency also works to increase the number of certified renovation firms capable of providing lead-safe renovation, repair and painting services through outreach campaigns.
Another important initiative we’re working on is a new educational curriculum on lead: Lead Awareness in Indian Country: Keeping our Children Healthy!. OCSPP collaborated with over 200 tribal partners this year to develop the curriculum to:
- Raise awareness about childhood lead exposures;
- Educate partners about potential impacts on children’s health and cultural practices; and
- Encourage actions to reduce and/or prevent lead exposures in Indian country.
I am excited that this curriculum can be used by any community across the nation. The unique aspect of this curriculum is the design – it is created in a manner to balance diverse community backgrounds, technical information, and localized knowledge by allowing community leaders an opportunity to plan and deliver their own messages. The format allows users the ability to adapt information to meet various needs and consists of four modules:
- Module 1: Understanding Lead – provides an overview of lead, its impacts, and actions that can be taken to reduce potential lead exposures and lead poisoning;
- Module 2: Effective Cleaning Techniques – explains and demonstrates recommended cleaning techniques for reducing household lead dust;
- Module 3: Personal Hygiene and Nutrition – focuses on the connection between personal hygiene and nutrition for children and potential exposures to lead; and
- Module 4: Hiring Certified Lead Professionals – emphasizes the importance of hiring a certified lead professional to follow lead-safe work practices to reduce exposures to lead.
We anticipate publishing the curriculum in early 2020!
Of course, our office’s work goes hand-in-hand with the incredible efforts across the EPA – particularly last week’s announcement of a proposed rule to reduce lead and copper in drinking water. EPA’s many efforts – and those of other federal agencies – are found in the Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposure.
Moving forward, it’s important to remember that there’s still more to be done. I look forward to continuing to work with our federal, state, tribal, and local partners for increasing awareness about lead poisoning prevention to protect children’s health.
About the author: Alexandra Dapolito Dunn is the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Prior to that she served as the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 1, and her responsibilities included overseeing the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and ten tribal nations. Read more.
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