The standards for lead-based paint and dust were issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2001 and have not been updated since that time. Now, an order by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit mandates that the EPA propose revised rules by March 27, 2018. The standards for lead-based paint established by the EPA are important in helping to prevent lead poisoning from lead paint, which is common in buildings constructed prior to 1978. The decision requires these guidelines to be renewed to take into modern medical and scientific standards that will better protect children from excessive lead exposure.

The EPA regulations establish consistent standards for determining acceptable dust lead levels in homes containing lead-based paint and defining what qualifies as lead-based paint. These rules will clarify the levels at which lead dust in the home poses a danger to young children regardless of the source of the lead dust. The EPA regulations apply to various forms of housing, including owned properties, rental units, and public housing projects. Several federal agencies, states, and cities also rely on these criteria to issue their own regulations, which further highlights the importance of abolishing obsolete standards.

Lead poisoning is regarded as the top environmental health danger for kids age 6 and younger. Approximately 500,000 young children in the country have tested positive for blood levels exceeding the level at which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends remedial action. In failing to implement stricter standards that reflect the effects of lead contamination, the EPA has been criticized for not adequately addressing the threat posed to young children in particular. Excessive lead in the blood has been linked to hyperactivity, cognitive impairment, inattention, and aggressive behavior. Because these adverse effects are irreversible, the emphasis must be on diminishing and/or preventing lead exposure in the first instance. Yet the EPA standards have not been revised for over a decade, and the agency attempted to further delay promulgating new rules until 2023. Given the immediate dangers of lead exposure, the court determined that this type of delay was excessive and unreasonably endangered the welfare of children.

The ruling determined that the current standards for dust lead hazards and lead-based paint are inadequate. A 2009 petition by environmental groups insisted that new rules were necessary because research indicates that lead is toxic to children at lower levels than previously believed. The 2001 rules were based on the premise that lead in young children was unsafe at levels exceeding 10 micrograms per deciliter. Experts have since lowered that standard. The CDC announced in 2012 that no level of lead in blood should be considered safe, but that blood lead levels of 5 micrograms per deciliter—half the prior standard—warrant further action by the child’s caregivers and local health authorities.

These recommendations may have a significant effect on the lead crises in Flint and Milwaukee. New recommendations could mean that the standards applied in those communities after lead had been detected may no longer be adequate. State and city regulators may face the possibility of revamping current plans to mitigate lead contamination to conform to stricter standards under the EPA. Additional services and preventive measures could be necessary for those who would be considered lead poisoned or at high risk of lead poisoning under these rules.

The lead poisoning attorneys at Levy Konigsberg LLP have successfully litigated cases of lead-poisoned children for decades. We have recovered over $100 million in verdicts and settlements in lead poisoning cases nationwide and can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 1-800-988-8005 for a free and confidential evaluation.


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