The official word came down in May of 2012–the standard for lead poisoning was cut in half. The Centers for Disease Control expect about 200,000 more diagnoses of lead poisoning per year in the US going forward, as they rise to 450,000, although other sources put the possible diagnoses at 1 million!
Exposure to lead has gone down dramatically with the banning of leadened gasoline and house paint in the 1970’s, but since there is no safe level of lead in the blood, the CDC is changing their policy focus from treatment to prevention and the screening of children with lower levels of lead will lead to the discovery of and removal of sources of lead from the environments where lead can still be found. Unfortunately, lower income children are at the highest risk for lead poisoning under both the old and new standards.
Today we read that the Environmental Protection Agency has not yet and does not currently plan to revise their standards, which have been in place since 2001. The EPA’s standards are the measure by which a location is determined to need (or not need) lead abatement for the safety of people using a facility. Recommendations have come from the EPA’s own Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee that the standards for dust and soil need to be revised.
Changes to the lead standards for house dust would impact the renovation and real estate industries which have been hard hit in the Great Recession and are only slowly recovering. The EPA standard for soil allows for “5 times more lead in play areas” than health models in California have shown can reduce IQ in children, according to this article in USA Today.
Yet any change in the EPA’s lead standard for house dust, which is under review, appears to be years away and would likely face opposition from the home renovation and real estate industries, agency records indicate. The EPA told USA TODAY last week that no action is currently being taken to revise the federal hazard standard for soil – which allows five times more lead in play areas than what health modeling by the state of California shows is needed to protect children from losing 1 I.Q. point.
There is no doubt that lowering of the EPA’s standards will result in the need for more lead abatement in many areas and facilities, but the cost is well worth the gains to children.
We hope that the new CDC standards will lead to more homes built before 1978 will be tested and any lead removed and that the EPA will soon follow suit. But please remember that lead paint removal is NOT a DIY project. If your home was built before 1978, have it tested. If lead is found, contact a professional lead removal company like Alliance Environmental Group to remove the lead contamination safely and make sure you don’t do more harm than good! Our lead removal teams are well-trained in all procedures for removal and disposal, keeping you, your family and your community safe from any lead that might remain to harm your health.
Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for Alliance Environmental Group and AirTek Indoor Air Solutions. We welcome your comments! For more news and tips or to ask questions of our experts, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! For updates on indoor air challenges, Like us at AirTek on Facebook!