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EPA Reduces Amount of Lead in Dust Considered a Hazard

July 12, 2019

May Warrant Measures to Reduce Risk

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) EPA recently finalized a rule to reduce the dust-lead hazard levels on floors and window sills – from 40 micrograms (µg) of lead in dust per square foot (ft2) and 250 µg/ft2 to 10 µg/ft2 and 100 µg/ft2, respectively.  The new standards take effect Jan. 6, 2020.  These standards apply to most pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities (COF), such as day care centers and kindergarten facilities.  Apart from COFs, no other public and commercial buildings are covered by this rule.

EPA did not change the post-abatement clearance levels.  EPA also did not change the definition of lead-based paint in this final rule because the agency lacked sufficient information to support such a change.  In an August 2018 comment letter, AGC agreed that EPA currently lacks sufficient data to change the existing lead-based paint definition or the post-abatement dust clearance levels. 

The new dust-lead hazard standards (DLHS) are incorporated into EPA’s Lead Abatement Program regulations that provide a framework for lead abatement, risk assessment, and inspections. (Lead abatement is an activity designed to permanently eliminate lead-based paint hazards.)  In addition, lead-based paint hazards trigger reporting obligations under the Section 1018 real estate disclosure regulations. Please refer to those regulations for information on compliance requirements regarding these hazard standards.  EPA notes that the new DLHS does not trigger new requirements under EPA’s 2008 Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule because that rule does not require dust sampling prior to or at the end of a renovation (see 40 CFR Part 745, Subpart E). The Lead RRP rule covers a lot of construction jobs: renovations, repairs, remodeling, demolition, painting, window replacement, plumbing, electrical work, heating and air-conditioning work, etc. The Lead RRP rule establishes requirements for firms and individuals performing work that can disturb lead-based paint and create hazardous lead dust and chips.

The post-abatement clearance levels at 40 CFR Part 745, subpart L require a certified inspector or risk assessor to sample an “abated” area for dust-lead loadings and determine whether the sample meets the applicable clearance level. The agency said it has initiated action to address the clearance levels. Accordingly, until EPA makes any changes, there will be a difference between the dust-lead hazard standards and the clearance levels for floors and for window sills.

Learn more about EPA’s federal lead-based paint program: https://www.epa.gov/lead.  For additional information, please contact AGC’s Leah Pilconis at pilconisl@agc.org.

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