EPA's Proposed Lead Standard Still Would Expose Public to Unsafe Lead Levels

WASHINGTON (May 1, 2008)In a move to strengthen the outdated, 30-year old limits on airborne lead, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced it will revise the standards for lead, a toxic air pollutant that causes serious illness, according to public health experts at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The EPA proposed standards would revise the existing standard of 1.5 micrograms per cubic meter of air to a level within the range of 0.10 to 0.30 micrograms per cubic meter, significantly reducing the acceptable level of lead air pollution nationally, but exceeding the highest acceptable range of 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter recommended by its scientific advisers.
The following is a statement from Avinash Kar, project attorney with NRDC’s public health program, concerning EPA’s proposed lead standard:
“This is a long overdue but flawed proposed standard. According to the best scientific findings, this standard would fail to protect the public from lead exposure. The EPA has finally abandoned its misguided attempt to revoke the standard altogether, but this new standard simply doesn’t go far enough, according to the unanimous advice of the agency’s independent scientific advisory committee and the advice of its own scientists.
“According to EPA projections, emissions of 60 pounds of lead from a single pollution source could cause a median loss of up to three IQ points in children. Thousands of children across the United States live near lead plants emitting more than 60 pounds of lead every year. In fact, some plants emit tons of lead annually.
“By proposing a limit stricter than the current standard that was set in 1978, EPA is making progress in limiting lead exposure, but this standard still falls short of what’s needed to protect the public. EPA must take the scientific advice to heart and further strengthen the standard, in light of the latest science, in order to protect America’s children from the tragic, lifelong effects of lead poisoning.”