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EPA Proposes Reduction in Lead Dust Standards

On July 12, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposal to reduce both the dust-lead hazard standard (DLHS) and the dust-lead clearance level (DLCL). The proposal would also de-couple the two measures. PHADA participated in an EPA Consultation Hearing on this topic as reported in the December 6, 2022, Advocate. The rule applies to child-occupied facilities and homes with a child 6 or younger.

At the consultation with EPA, PHADA raised concerns about high costs for actions that may be required by HUD or others based upon these revised standards. PHADA also raised concerns that the cost impact calculations being used underestimated the costs, excluded the multifamily Project-Based Rental Assistance portfolio, and excluded the HCV program. These changes will also have a significant impact on states and others that are authorized by EPA to administer their own programs, which must demonstrate compliance within two years of the rule’s effective date.

Under the proposed rule, the hazard standard (DLHS) would be reduced from the current 10 micrograms per square foot for floors and 100 micrograms per square foot for window troughs, to 0 micrograms per square foot, since there is no level of lead that is safe for children. The hazard standard (DLHS) is used to determine if there is a risk. 

The clearance level (DLCL) would be reduced from 10 to 3 micrograms per square foot for floors and from 100 to 20 micrograms per square foot for window troughs. The clearance level is the amount of lead found after abatement activity. The proposed standards are the lowest post-abatement dust-lead levels that the EPA believes can be reliably and effectively achieved. This is consistent with the May 2021 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion that the DLHS must be based solely on health factors, while the DLCL must consider additional factors of safety, effectiveness, and reliability.

More information, including a fact sheet describing the proposed rule and the pre-publication copy of the proposed rule, can be found at Hazard Standards and Clearance Levels for Lead in Paint, Dust and Soil (TSCA Sections 402 and 403). The proposed rule will be open for public comment for 60 days once published in the Federal Register. 

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