Lead is a naturally occurring metal used in many industries such as manufacturing and construction. Despite being natural, lead is hazardous to human health and there is no safe level of exposure. Even small amounts of lead can cause damage to the brain, nervous system, and kidneys, interfere with the formation of red blood cells, and result in lifelong learning disabilities and motor coordination impairment.
Lead is particularly harmful to children because their developing bodies absorb more lead than adults do, and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to damage. Pregnant women are also particularly susceptible to lead, and exposure can cause serious harms during pregnancy. More information about the harmful effects of lead can be found on the EPA’s website.
At this time, there is no known cure for lead poisoning and the harmful effects of exposure to lead are irreversible; therefore, it is important to identify common sources of lead and take steps to avoid exposure in the first place. This can present a challenge because the health risks associated with lead can be difficult to detect as lead often cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted.
To determine whether a person has been exposed to lead, doctors analyze the concentration of lead absorbed into a person’s blood. While there is no safe level of lead in the blood, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as of 2022, consider a high blood lead level in children as being equal to or greater than 3.5 micrograms per deciliter (μg/dL). The CDC reports that approximately half a million children ages 1-5 have blood lead levels above this level, making lead a major public health concern.
Common Sources of Lead Contamination:
If you think any of these potential sources may be present in your household or community, you should be aware of potential lead exposure and take precautions.
Homes and buildings built prior to 1978 may contain lead-based paint
Older pipes may be made of lead, or be joined with lead solder
Piston-engine airplanes and helicopters use leaded fuel
Coal-fired power plants emit lead when coal is burned
Dust from construction or mining in lead contaminated soil
Recycling electronic waste such as computers or phones
Disposal of lead acid batteries (commonly found in cars and emergency systems)
Spent ammunition (many bullets are primarily made of lead)
Burning solid waste may release lead and other heavy metals
Parts of automobile radiators or lead pipes, used in at-home distilleries to make moonshine, may contaminate the alcohol with lead
Lead-glazed ceramic ware and leaded crystal
Traditional folk medicines and cosmetics may contain lead (e.g., Greta and Azarcon used to treat an upset stomach)
Mini-blinds that are made outside of the United States may contain lead (lead is sometimes added to stabilize the plastic)
Laws Regulating Lead
Lead is regulated under several different laws administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) including:
Toxic Substances Control Act
Clean Water Act
Safe Drinking Water Act
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act
Clean Air Act
This chapter focuses on lead contamination in paint, dust, and soil and provides some information about lead contaminated soil clean-up efforts. For more information on contaminated site cleanup generally, see Hazardous Waste, Toxic Substances, and Contaminated Land Cleanup. Although water can also be contaminated by lead, this section does not cover lead contaminated water. Lead contaminated drinking water is discussed in Protecting Your Drinking Water. This chapter does not cover lead pollution in air as it is not a significant problem in Georgia.
Lead in Paint, Soil, and Dust
In the past, lead was commonly added to paint to make it stronger and dry faster. However, lead-based paint was banned by the federal government in 1978 because of the harmful health effects caused by lead exposure when the paint ages and flakes away.
Despite the ban, lead-based paint is still present in millions of homes built before 1978. In older homes, lead-based paint often exists under newer layers of paint. Household products such as children’s toys, ceramics, cosmetics, and pipes may also contain lead-based paint.
Over time, paint deteriorates, resulting in peeling, chipping, and cracking. Areas with high wear and tear — such as windows and windowsills, doors and door frames, stairs, railings, bannisters, and porches — can result in lead-based paint deteriorating and becoming hazardous faster. Additionally, if children chew on surfaces painted with lead-based paint, they can accidentally directly eat lead-based paint chips or flakes which are toxic.
Lead is naturally occurring in soil, usually at levels below 50 parts per million (ppm), but industrial practices have caused the amount of lead in some areas to increase to dangerous levels, sometimes exceeding 10,000 ppm.
Sometimes soil contamination is the result of lead-based paint from houses and buildings flaking or peeling and getting into the soil. Soil can also be contaminated from the use of leaded gasoline, industrial emissions, lead smelting, spent ammunition, or contaminated disposal sites.
Children can ingest lead in soil by playing outside or by consuming produce that has absorbed lead from contaminated soil or that is dirty. Lead-contaminated soil can be particularly challenging to remediate because once present it does not naturally disappear from the soil, and it continues to cause harm despite being several layers underground.
Lead-contaminated dust is the most common method of exposure. The deterioration of lead-based paint often produces lead-contaminated household dust which can be harmful when inhaled or directly swallowed. This can occur from consuming lead contaminated dust that has settled on food or surfaces, or from common hand to mouth contact.
Children are particularly susceptible to harm from lead-based dust due to the frequency in which they put their hands and objects in their mouths, and because young children crawl on floors that may be dusty.
Home repair activities commonly cause lead-contaminated dust, but it also comes from other sources outside the home.
Some common sources outside the home include lead contaminated dust particles that stick to clothing at a contaminated park, playground, or job site. Some jobs that are more likely to result in lead exposure because of contact with lead contaminated dust are listed below.
Jobs that are more likely to result in lead exposure:
Artists (materials may contain lead)
Auto repairers (some car parts may contain lead)
Repair and reconstruction workers (old paint may contain lead)
Construction workers (materials used may include lead)
Firing range instructors and gunsmiths
Glass manufacturers (lead may be used in glass production)
Lead manufacturers, miners, and refiners
Manufacturers of bullets, ceramics, and electrical components
Painters (old paint may contain lead)
Plastic manufacturers (materials made may contain lead)
Plumbers and pipe fitters (pipes may contain lead)
Police officers or soldiers (ammunition contains lead)
Radiator repair workers (radiators may contain lead)
Recyclers of metal, electronics, and batteries (may contain lead)
Solid waste incinerator operators (waste may contain lead)
Steel welder (galvanized steel is coated in part with lead)
Soil Screening, Health, Outreach and Partnership (soilSHOP)
If you are aware of soil contamination within your community, there are resources available to help educate individuals and your community. For example, to reduce exposure to lead and other heavy metals in soil, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) promotes and supports soilSHOP events. These events are intended to educate communities about the harms associated with lead contamination and offer free soil testing. If you think your community would benefit from a soilSHOP or if you would like to have your soil tested, you should reach out to ATSDR to inquire about setting up an event.
Title IV of TSCA, Lead Exposure Reduction, specifically covers lead-based paint hazards. The goal of this law was to create a national program aimed at reducing the risks of lead-based paint exposure from housing. The EPA administers TSCA and the relevant regulations.
TSCA directs the EPA to do the following in regulating lead:
Establish definitions for lead-based paint hazards, lead-contaminated dust, and lead-contaminated soil
Make sure workers engaged in detection and handling of lead hazards are properly trained
Publish requirements for the accreditation of training programs for workers
Set standards to evaluate the effectiveness of products used to detect or reduce risks
Establish standards and protocols for lead analysis in paint, soil, and dust
Create a certification program for laboratories conducting testing
Publish a pamphlet on lead hazard risks and the resources available
Residential Lead Disclosure Program (Title X, Section 1018)
The EPA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are responsible for protecting the public from any lead-based paint hazards. The EPA and HUD created a Residential Lead Disclosure Program that applies to “Target Housing.” Target Housing is defined as any housing, both for rent or for sale, constructed before 1978, except housing for the elderly or persons with disabilities (unless any child under age 6 resides or is expected to reside in such housing), or any 0-bedroom dwelling (e.g., lofts, efficiencies, and studios). More information about what is not included in the definition of Target Housing can be found here.
Regardless of whether you are looking to rent or purchase property, there are several steps that you should take to ensure you are aware of the risks related to lead contamination.
Because lead is so hazardous to human health, and its effects are irreversible, it is important to be informed about the property. You should determine whether the property you plan to rent or purchase was built prior to 1978. If so, the landlord or seller is required under the Residential Lead Disclosure Program to make certain disclosures to you of the dangers associated with lead.
When renting property built prior to 1978, the landlord must do the following:
Provide you with all known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in the home and any available reports on lead in the housing. (This includes information about common spaces in a multi-dwelling property.)
Keep the signed acknowledgment of the disclosure for at least three years as proof of compliance.
When purchasing property, the seller must do all four steps required when renting property and also provide a 10-day opportunity to test the home for lead after signing the contract. As the buyer, you will be responsible to pay for any testing. If lead-based paint or hazards are present, the contract may be cancelled but you will still be responsible for any costs associated with the cancellation.
Under federal law, if a landlord or seller fails to properly disclose this information, they may be fined up to $18,364 for every violation. A violation of the law requiring disclosure does not invalidate the lease or contract of sale.
If you did not receive the Disclosure of Information on Lead-Based Paint and/or Lead-Based Paint Hazards Form when you bought or leased pre-1978 housing, call the National Lead Clearinghouse at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323) or contact a lawyer.
A party who was not properly informed about the presence of lead and has been harmed as a result may be able to sue their landlord or the seller for damages, including compensation for requested medical bills. It is important not to delay seeking legal assistance because there may be a limited period in which you are able to recover.
Federal Lead Hazard Standard Regulation
The EPA passed the Federal Lead Hazard Standard Regulation in 2001 (2001 Rule) to identify contamination levels that constitute lead-based paint, lead contaminated dust, or contaminated soil hazards under federal law.
A paint-lead hazard typically refers to conditions that cause exposure to lead that is dangerous to human health. Federal agencies use these standards as a benchmark when passing laws and regulations to clean up lead contamination in target housing (as defined above) and “child-occupied facilities.”
Child-occupied facilities include any building constructed prior to 1978, visited regularly by the same child, under six years of age, on at least two different days within any week for at least three hours and for a combined weekly visit of at least six hours. Additionally, annually the child must visit the facility for at least 60 hours. The 2001 Rule also established dust clearance levels, which are used to evaluate the effectiveness of a required cleaning following an abatement, a project designed to permanently eliminate existing lead-based paint hazards.
Paint-lead hazards, dust-lead hazards, soil-lead hazards, and dust clearance standards set by the 2001 Rule are listed below. Please note that the EPA is in the process of revising these standards and strengthening them. In July 2023, the EPA proposed new dust-lead hazard standards and dust clearance standards that will provide more protection by imposing stricter limits. As these new standards have not been finalized, the standards below are the current standards in effect at the time of writing in 2023.
Lead Hazard Levels
(a) Lead in Paint: This standard is very broad because it is intended to alert the public that all deteriorated lead-based paint is harmful and should be addressed. Lead-based paint is considered hazardous if:
The paint has visually deteriorated.
Lead-based paint is present on a friction surface where a dust-lead hazard exists underneath (for example, opening and closing windows creates friction which can cause paint to flake or turn to dust that lands on the windowsill).
Lead-based paint is on a damaged or deteriorated “impact surface” (for example, where a doorknob knocks a wall).
Lead-based paint is present on a “chewable surface” accessible to children with evidence of teeth marks.
(b) Lead in Dust: In 2020, the EPA strengthened the dust-lead hazard level because of concerns about the harmful effects of lead-contaminated dust on children’s health. Under the newly strengthened levels, lead-contaminated dust is considered dangerous if:
Lead in dust equals or exceeds 40 micrograms per square foot on floors, or
Lead in dust equals or exceeds 250 micrograms per square foot on windowsills.
(c) Lead in Soil: EPA considers lead in soil hazardous when:
Lead is present in bare soil at levels equal to or exceeding 400 parts per million in areas of a yard where children play, or
Lead is present in bare soil at levels equal to or exceeding 1,200 parts per million averaged across a yard.
Lead Repair and Renovation Programs
The EPA developed two separate programs to address lead abatement (cleanup) and lead renovation, repair, and painting activities. Renovation, repair, and painting activities include most home contracting work that disturbs paint.
These activities are typically unrelated to lead issues, but could include resolving a leak, replacing a window, removing a wall, or even applying a fresh coat of paint. However, precautionary measures are still required because of the potential to disturb existing lead paint.
Lead abatement differs because it includes construction and cleanup efforts that are specifically designed to target lead contamination.
(1) Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program
The EPA developed the Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Program (RRP Program) program to make sure lead renovation and repair activities are conducted safely and that workers are properly trained. The EPA delegated Georgia the authority to administer and enforce its own RRP Program administered by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD).
The Georgia RRP Program is modeled after the federal program and applies to renovation, repair, and painting completed for pay in residential houses, apartments, and child-occupied facilities built before 1978 that involve any of the following acts or effects:
Disturbing more than 6 ft2 of lead painted or coated surfaces per interior room.
Disturbing more than 20 ft2 of lead painted or coated surfaces on exteriors.
Replacing windows of any size.
Partially demolishing structures, walls, or components that are not entire structure demolitions.
(2) Lead Abatement Program: Training and Certification
Georgia administers the state Lead Abatement Program under the Lead Poisoning Prevention Act of 1994. This program was created to make sure that workers doing lead inspection and cleanup have the right training, certification, and accreditation.
In order to “advertise to, agree to, or perform work or services” on target housing or child-occupied facilities, any individual working on the project must be a Georgia Certified Renovator, and the firm must also be a Georgia-Certified Renovation firm.
To become certified, individual applicants must attend a training course to learn lead-safe practices, complete an application, pay an application fee, and pass an exam. The EPD publishes a list of Georgia-certified contractors.
Responding to Lead Exposure
What to do if you think your home is contaminated:
While the best way to avoid hazards is to avoid renting or buying property with lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards, that is not always possible. This also may not be necessary as lead-based paint that is still intact is not harmful to human health.
To take proper precautions, it is helpful to know the source of contamination.
You can test your own home using at-home test kits. There are two commercially available at-home tests that the EPA recognizes as complying with the RRP Rule. These include the 3M™ LeadCheck™ and the ESCA Tech D-Lead®. Both tests can be used to determine that lead-based paint is not present on wood, ferrous metal (alloys that contain iron), or drywall and plaster surfaces. You can purchase these at-home test kits at your local hardware store.
However, the Georgia Department of Public Health still cautions that at-home testing may not always be reliable. If you have any doubts as to the results, or if an at-home test kit indicates lead is present, consider hiring a certified risk assessor or inspector to determine if your home has lead hazards. The risk assessor can also recommend actions to take to address existing hazards. However, hiring a certified risk assessor or inspector can be costly. For help finding a certified risk assessor or inspector, call the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).
Even avoiding renting or buying property with lead-based paint present and conducting at home testing is not a definite way to avoid exposure. Lead exposure is also commonly caused by contact with lead contaminated dust or soil outside of the home (i.e., at school, or in the workplace).
It is important to keep in mind EPA’s recommended steps to mitigate your risk. The following sections provide more information on some of the EPA’s recommended precautions for minimizing lead exposure and what to do if you think your home is contaminated.
Steps to minimize lead exposure:
(1) Reduce potential lead exposure within your home
Maintaining a clean home is very important to minimize harmful lead exposure. If you are aware that your home has lead-based paint, keep children away from the windows, porches, handrails, or other areas that are commonly used and rubbed together.
If you see paint chipping, cover it with contact paper or duct tape to create temporary barriers, and keep the surrounding area clean and dust free. Do not try to re-paint your walls yourself, instead reach out to a lead certified contractor who can help rectify the problem.
Avoid using a vacuum or broom to clean lead-contaminated dust. These methods can disturb dust particles making them airborne and thus more easily inhaled. It is best to clean with a mop, but you should avoid using the same mop for other cleaning purposes to prevent spreading contaminant dust and debris. Wash children’s hands and toys frequently, especially if they have been playing on the floor or in dirt.
(2) Reduce potential lead exposure outside your home
The most effective way to clean up lead contamination in soil in your yard is to have the contaminated layer removed. This is extremely costly and requires hiring contractors.
However, there are some steps that communities can take as short-term solutions. For example, washing kids’ hands frequently can be helpful because children often play in the soil and then stick their hands in their mouths, potentially exposing them to lead from the soil. It may be wise to limit play areas to grassy areas, sandboxes, or parks. Additionally, you may consider covering the areas surrounding your home in sod or mulch.
When entering the house, remove your shoes to prevent lead contaminated soil from being tracked inside. Additionally, if you work in an environment where you could be exposed to lead contaminated dust or soil, you could change your clothing and take a shower after work.
Plants growing in contaminated soil in yards or gardens can absorb toxic substances, including lead, from the surrounding soil. Therefore, eating plants grown in lead contaminated soil can be harmful to your health. If possible, consider using raised planters and soil known to be lead free to prevent food contamination. Additionally, thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables prior to consumption. Try to maintain a healthy diet for yourself and your children because iron, calcium, and vitamin C can help limit absorption of lead into the bloodstream.
Steps if you suspect you or your family have been exposed to lead:
(1) Contact your doctor
There are no clear symptoms of lead poisoning until it is very severe; therefore, it is difficult to detect. If you are concerned about exposure to lead, do not wait.
Contacting your doctor early is essential to mitigating harms. Your doctor will be able to determine whether someone has lead poisoning through a blood or saliva test. Blood tests are the preferred method for lead screening. Depending on the results, additional screening may be required.
Below is a list of symptoms of lead poisoning to look out for and additional considerations to share with your doctor if you are concerned about lead contamination. Some possible symptoms include:
Loss of appetite
Feeling tired or irritable
Nausea and vomiting
Joint pain and muscle weakness
Confusion, seizures, or coma
In preparation for your appointment with the doctor make a list of:
Symptoms or behavior changes you’ve noticed
Key personal information, including where you live and whether you or your child has been close to any sources of lead
All medications, vitamins, or supplements you or your child take (including doses)
Questions to ask your provider
All young children should receive a routine blood lead screening. Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids cover blood lead screening tests for all children at ages 12 months and 24 months. Additionally, any child between 24 and 72 months who has not been previously screened is also required to be tested. You can also contact your local health department for screening options, sites, and costs.
Any indication of lead in a child’s blood should be taken seriously and steps should be taken to prevent further exposures because the harmful effects of lead exposure are irreversible. You can ask your medical provider for guidance or reach out to the Georgia Department of Public Health for suggestions on how to avoid further exposure. The Georgia Department of Public Health can be reached at (404) 657-2700.
The following counties are considered at a higher risk of exposure: Bibb, Chatham, Clayton, Cobb, Dekalb, Dougherty, Fulton, Gwinnett, Hall, Houston, Muscogee, Richmond, and Troup. If you live in one of these counties it is especially important to get your blood lead level tested.
(2) Contact the Georgia Department of Public Health
When a child under the age of six has lead poisoning and resides in a dwelling containing lead poisoning hazards, the Georgia Division of Public Health has the legal authority to order the owner to take steps to reduce the lead poisoning hazards in the home.
Under this program, all blood lead level screening data collected by public labs, commercial labs, and doctors is reported to the Georgia Department of Public Health. If test results indicate that a child has elevated blood lead levels, the Georgia Department of Public Health will conduct a home investigation.
A report will be generated based on the investigation and submitted to recipients, caregivers, and landlords. The report will not include the child’s name. The Georgia Department of Public Health will then assist in controlling the lead hazards and will monitor the child for subsequent blood lead levels as needed.
If necessary, the Georgia Department of Public Health will require the owner or manager of the home to submit a written lead poisoning hazard abatement plan within 15 days of the receipt of the lead poisoning hazard notification. The owner or manager must receive written approval of the plan before initiating abatement.
The occupants must be notified of the abatement plan at least three days prior and the abatement should be completed within 60 days. The landlord will be responsible for the costs associated with mitigating lead exposure. If the Georgia Department of Public Health does not receive the corrective action plan, they will send an enforcement letter to the owner. If no response is received, a case will be filed with the Attorney General’s office.
Retaliating against tenants for reporting hazardous lead conditions is illegal under the Georgia Landlord Tenant Code. Although it is illegal for the landlord to try to evict you for enforcing the Georgia Landlord Tenant Code, it is possible that this process may put a strain on your relationship with your landlord. But, it is important to remember that the landlord is legally required to remedy the problem. If this becomes a problem, you can reach out to the Georgia Department of Public Health at (404) 657-2700 and your local Legal Aid organization for additional guidance and resources.
(3) Eliminate the source
The CDC has declared that there is no safe concentration of lead for children. Therefore, if you are aware of lead-based paint hazards in your home, you should try to take steps to rectify the problem by eliminating the source.
However, you should not try to eliminate the source on your own – trying to do so may result in more exposure, because improperly done work may create more lead-contaminated dust in your home. Certified contractors and firms will be able to remove the lead without worsening the problem and causing more harm.
If you are renting property and discover lead-based paint hazards (i.e., peeling, chipping, chalking, or damp paint), you should promptly inform your landlord of these issues in writing. In Georgia, your landlord is responsible for repairs to keep the property in good condition.
The landlord cannot make a tenant pay for repairs unless that tenant or that tenant’s family or guests caused the damage. For more information on landlord tenant issues in Georgia review the Georgia Landlord Tenant Handbook. For legal advice or assistance about lead in rental properties contact your local Legal Aid organization.
If you are aware of a problem and need to repair or restore lead-based paint, or abate your property, you must use workers certified by Georgia EPD under the Lead-Based Paint Renovation, Repair and Painting program. Failure to do so can result in harm to the workers as well as the community and can also result in significant fines. A list of certified renovators and renovation firms is available online.
If you are aware of lead exposure within your community, it is likely affecting others as well who may not be aware of the presence of lead or the dangers associated with it. Therefore, it is important to spread the word, inform others of the harms of lead, and work together to advocate for the cleanup of the contamination.
National Lead Information Center, 1-800-424-LEAD (5323)
Environmental Justice Hotline, 1-800-962-6215
Lead Funding Toolkit: Green & Healthy Homes Initiative publishes a Lead Funding Toolkit. This is a publicly available, web-based guide to over 40 sources of funding for residential lead inspection, lead-based paint hazard remediation, lead service line replacement, and soil remediation. The Lead Funding Toolkit outlines strategies for finding and using private, public, and philanthropic lead funding in your community. The tool kit includes a list of current opportunities for lead-related funding, updated every month. For additional information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
State Lead Contacts:
The Georgia Department of Public Health, 404-657-2700
Environmental Health Section – Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, 404-657-6534
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Region 4 Contacts
Sue Casteel, MS
Georgia Environmental Protection Division – Lead Contacts
Elisabeth Munsey, 470-524-2179
Lisa Davidson, 470-251-2693
Katherine Johnson, 404-362-2501
Gianna Wilson, 470-524-0724
Mathew Rouse, 470-251-2622
Cabot Roth, 470-251-4815
Shelli Lockwood, 470-604-7163
Protecting Children From Lead By Challenging Outdated Standards
“Strengthening the [lead] standards will protect millions of children from exposure to dangerous levels of lead dust at their homes and schools,” said Earthjustice attorney Jonathan J. Smith after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the EPA to revisit their lead based paint, soil, and dust standards.
Earthjustice represented various nonprofit community, health, and environmental groups including A Community Voice, California Communities Against Toxics, and Healthy Homes Collaborative in a case against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These organizations were concerned that the EPA’s current lead standards did not align with prevailing scientific research that found that there is no safe amount of lead in the body.
Bringing a Case in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
This led to a lawsuit where Earthjustice argued that the EPA’s current lead standards supported dangerously high levels of exposure. On May 14, 2021, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Earthjustice and its community organization clients.
The court found the EPA had failed to set adequate lead paint standards, even after the agency was already instructed to update its guidelines back in 2017. With this ruling, the EPA will be required to adopt more stringent standards that focus solely on the health implications of lead poisoning, as opposed to outside factors such as feasibility and testing capabilities.
Any level of lead exposure in children can contribute to slowed growth and development, learning and behavior problems, and hearing and speech problems. This can lead to lower IQ, decreased ability to pay attention, and underperformance in school. Children can become exposed to lead if they are in homes or buildings, such as schools or daycares, built before 1978 that probably contained lead-based paint. As the paint peels, children become exposed to the dust or if they swallow pieces. Many of these homes and buildings containing lead-based paint are within low income areas. This leaves minority children and children from low-wealth homes at greater risk of exposure.
Looking to the Future
With this ruling, we can expect to see the EPA revisit its lead standards for paint, soil, and dust, hopefully adopting more stringent parameters. The court chastised the EPA for its “glacial pace” in setting lead standards over the past thirty years.
The EPA will now be expected to hasten its efforts in adopting new lead standards that focus on the health impacts of lead exposure in young children. The EPA will have to update the clearance standard for lead dust, which is the standard that must be reached when reducing lead contamination levels.
Moreover, the EPA will be expected to update its definition of lead-based paint as well as standards related to lead in soil. Many of these updates were supposed to be made back in 2017, after the initial ruling, but never came to fruition. With a second ruling ordering the same things, one can hope that the EPA will finally take the requisite steps to develop and implement these new standards.
Finally, the EPA stated that they are committed to preventing lead exposure, “including those in historically underserved communities.” With this decision, and the Biden administration’s dedication to environmental justice, people should expect to see disenfranchised communities given priority consideration in future lead regulations and clean-up efforts.
The advocacy efforts of these various community, health, and environmental organizations will usher in a new, more protective set of lead standards that will undoubtedly have significant positive impacts on human health and the environment.
The ability of community members to recognize a problem in their neighborhood and come together to tackle it through advocacy tools, calling representatives, writing letters, attending and speaking at public hearings, and partnering with organizations like Earthjustice leads to more resources, support, and power in the fight for better health and a cleaner environment, and most importantly, to healthier children and families.