A holiday gift for communities facing lead pollution

In July, I wrote about good news out of EPA.  Today, there is better news.  EPA just announced a proposal to expand the lead monitoring network to require monitoring near any facility whose emissions could lead to violations of the new standards. 

Lead is a harmful toxin that is associated with a number of serious health problems and with lower IQs in children.  More than 16,000 industrial facilities across the country emit lead into our air.  Late last year, EPA finalized a strong new health-protective standard for levels of lead in air, updating it for the first time in 30 years.  But, under the Bush Administration, the monitoring requirements were watered down so that monitoring was required only for facilities emitting more than a ton of lead a year, even though EPA’s own analysis showed that facilities emitting half a ton of lead a year or more could lead to violations of EPA’s new standards.  The communities near the 160 additional facilities that will now have lead monitors would have been left without adequate monitoring and information to protect them from unhealthy levels of lead.

The news out of EPA today is a great holiday present for the communities near the facilities that were previously exempted from monitoring requirements.  A revised threshold will help scientists collect the data they need to protect children’s health from dangerous airborne lead.  It will help ensure that all communities have air that meets the strict new standard EPA set last year to reduce airborne lead. 

NRDC and our partners, the Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic at the Washington University School of Law, the Missouri Coalition for the Environment Foundation, the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, and Physicians for Social Responsibility,  look forward to working with EPA as they move forward to finalize today’s proposal.