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News Releases from Region 04

EPA Takes Important Step to Further Protect Children from Exposure to Lead-Contaminated Dust

Contact Information: 
James Pinkney (
(404) 562-8400 (Main)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (June 21, 2019) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to announce new, tighter standards for lead in dust on floors and window sills to protect children from the harmful effects of lead exposure. EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker made this announcement today alongside HUD Region 4 Administrator Denise Cleveland-Legget.

“EPA is delivering on our commitment in the Trump Administration’s Federal Lead Action Plan to take important steps to reduce childhood lead exposure,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Today’s final rule is the first time in nearly two decades EPA is issuing a stronger, more protective standard for lead dust in homes and child care facilities across the country.”

Today’s announcement to lower the dust-lead hazard level is another helpful tool in the EPA’s fight to actively reduce childhood lead exposure,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “Through partnership with our stakeholder groups – such as our Shelby County Stakeholders, Memphis HCD, Shelby County Government and Le Bonheur – we will continue our commitment to make a visible difference in communities throughout the 8 southeastern states. Lead poisoning is 100% preventable and 0 % irreversible thus it is imperative to work alongside our states to reduce childhood lead exposure and ensure the safety of young children.”

“EPA’s updating its standards for lead dust on floors and windowsills in pre-1978 homes and child-occupied facilities is an important advance,” said HUD Secretary Carson. “We will use this new rule in updating the lead safety requirements for the pre-1978 housing we assist.”

“HUD appreciates EPA’s announcing its significantly tighter dust-lead standards for homes built before 1978; HUD’s focus is on housing, and the EPA rule will help us make and keep our older housing safer, said Denise Cleveland-Leggett, HUD Southeast Regional Administrator. “Creating healthy housing helps children grow and develop in a healthy way and can save billions in health care costs, too.”

“TDEC appreciates its partnership with EPA in delivering important programs, like lead-based paint, to protect human health and the environment at the state level,” said Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner David Salyers.  “The direction and resources provided by EPA supporting the Federal Lead Action Plan strengthens our state’s ability to protect the health of Tennessee’s children, often the most vulnerable population when exposed to toxic substances like lead dust.”

Since the 1970s, the United States has made tremendous progress in lowering children’s blood lead levels. In 2001, EPA set standards for lead in dust for floors and window sills in housing, however since that time, the best available science has evolved to indicate human health effects at lower blood lead levels than previously analyzed.

To protect children’s health and to continue making progress on this important issue, EPA is lowering the dust-lead hazard standards from 40 micrograms of lead per square foot (µg/ft2) to 10 µg/ft2 on floors and from 250 µg/ft2 to 100 µg/ft2 on window sills. The more protective dust-lead hazard standards will apply to inspections, risk assessments, and abatement activities in pre-1978 housing and certain schools, child care facilities and hospitals across the country.

Lead-contaminated dust from chipped or peeling lead-based paint is one of the most common causes of elevated blood lead levels in children. Infants and children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure because they their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults do, and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead. They can be exposed from multiple sources and may experience irreversible and life-long health effects. Lead dust can be generated when lead-based paint deteriorates or is disturbed.

The rule will become effective 180 days after date of publication in the Federal Register.

A link to this final rule and to learn more:

Learn more about the lead-based paint program:

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