July 27, 2023

EPA Announces Proposal for Lower Dust-Lead Hazard and Clearance Levels

EPA has announced a proposed rule that would lower its dust-lead hazard standards (DLHS) and dust-lead clearance levels (DLCL). Risk assessors use the DLHS to determine whether dust-lead hazards are present in homes and childcare facilities built before lead paint was banned in 1978. The DLCL are used to determine the effectiveness of abatement activities.

According to EPA, the proposed rule would lower the DLHS to “any reportable level greater than zero.” The current DLHS, which went into effect in January 2020, are 10 µg/ft2 for floors and 100 µg/ft2 for windowsills. The proposal would also lower the DLCL from 10 µg/ft2 to 3 µg/ft2 for floors, from 100 µg/ft2 to 20 µg/ft2 for windowsills, and from 400 µg/ft2 to 25 µg/ft2 for window troughs. The new DLCL levels are believed to be the lowest that can be reliably achieved, according to the agency.

The DLHS and DLCL are usually set at the same levels. The proposal for different levels follows a 2021 decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (PDF), which held that the DLHS must be based only on health factors while the DLCL must consider safety, effectiveness, and reliability.

EPA estimates that the proposed rule, if finalized, would reduce the lead exposures of approximately 250,000 to 500,000 children under the age of six per year. For more information, read the announcement on the EPA website.