January 7, 2021

EPA Rule Lowers Clearance Levels for Lead in Dust on Floors, Windowsills

In late December 2020, EPA announced a new final rule to lower the clearance levels for the amount of lead that can remain in dust on floors and windowsills in buildings after lead abatement has taken place. The rule is intended to improve protection for American children against lead hazards. EPA’s action lowers the clearance levels for lead in dust in buildings following abatement activities from 40 μg/ft2 to 10 μg/ft2 on floors and from 250 μg/ft2 to 100 μg/ft2 on windowsills. The new final rule will go into effect on March 8, 2021.

According to EPA, these new regulations will reduce the risk of health effects related to lead dust among children in homes and childcare facilities constructed before 1978. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler noted that exposure to “unacceptable levels of lead” is an issue of particular concern in low-income communities.

Lead-contaminated dust from deteriorating lead-based paint in older buildings is one of the most common causes of elevated blood lead levels in children, and lead exposure may result in lifelong health effects. CDC’s current guidance states that no safe blood lead level in children has been identified and calls for public health measures to be initiated at a blood lead level in children of 5 µg/dL. EPA’s new final rule is intended to help property owners, lead paint professionals, and government officials better identify lead hazards in paint and dust that could contribute to elevated blood lead levels among children.

For more information, read EPA’s press release or refer to additional information on the agency’s action. A news article published on AIHA’s website in June 2020 reported the publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register.