June 25, 2020

EPA Rule Would Align Lead Clearance Levels with Hazard Levels

EPA has published a proposed rule that would lower the clearance levels for dust on floors and windowsills following lead removal activities from 40 µg of lead in dust per square foot to 10 µg/ft2 for floor dust and from 250 µg/ft2 to 100 µg/ft2 for windowsill dust. The rule would align the clearance levels for floor dust and windowsill dust with new hazard levels that went into effect in January 2020.

The proposal does not address the clearance level for window troughs, which will remain 400 µg/ft2. No EPA hazard level exists for window troughs.

Clearance levels define the maximum amount of lead dust that may remain following abatement activities. The discrepancy between the hazard levels and the current clearance levels poses potential dilemmas for lead-based paint professionals, as explained in an article in the August 2019 Synergist. Authors Kenn White and Derek Popp discussed situations where lead dust in a building following abatement meets the clearance level but exceeds the hazard level. In such a situation, lead-based paint professionals may have a contractual obligation to clear the space for occupancy even though a lead hazard exists. The new rule would appear to address this potential conflict.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the new proposed rule “aims to reduce one of the most common causes of elevated blood lead levels in children.”

The proposed rule was published yesterday in the Federal Register. EPA is accepting public comments until August 24, 2020.