EDF Health

Selected tag(s): Lead Hazard Standards

Federal court of appeals gives EPA one year to update lead-based paint standards

Tom Neltner, J.D.is Chemicals Policy Director

Update: One day before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' March 27, 2018 deadline to issue a proposed rule, the court gave EPA a 90-day extension. The Court acted based on a March 20 request from EPA that included a detailed description of the steps the agency had taken in conducting the necessary analysis in developing the proposed rule.  Also, EPA sent to the Office of Management and Budget a proposed rule on March 26 and withdrew it three days later, presumably to continue to revise its proposal. 

This week, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to update its regulations defining lead-based paint and how much lead in dust represents a hazard. The court gave EPA 90 days to issue a proposed rule and one year to publish a final rule with an option to convince the court that it needs additional time. The court said the agency had unreasonably delayed action on a citizen’s petition submitted in 2009. The science showing the need for action has only become more compelling in the eight years since EPA acknowledged the shortcoming of its rules. Rather than drag out this litigation, the agency should move quickly to revise its lead-based paint hazard standards to better protect children’s health.

EPA set the dust-lead hazard standard in 2001 after determining that a child living in a home with those levels had only a 1 to 5% chance of having an elevated blood lead level (EBLL) as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The scientific evidence now shows that the risk is greater than previously estimated. In addition, CDC has tightened its definition of an EBLL. As a result, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the risk to a child of having an EBLL in a home that meets EPA’s current dust-lead hazard standard is more than 50%.

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