The Biden administration on Wednesday proposed strengthening requirements for the removal of lead-based paint in homes and child care facilities built before 1978 to try to eliminate exposure to lead, which can damage the brain and nervous system, especially in children.

If completed, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the regulation would reduce exposure to lead for as many as 500,000 young children per year.

“There is no safe level of lead,” said Michal Freedhoff, the Environmental Protection Agency’s assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution. “Even low levels are harmful to children’s health, and this proposal would bring us closer to eradicating lead-based paint hazards from homes and child care facilities across America once and for all.”

The new limits could require millions of homeowners and hundreds of thousands of childcare facilities to control dust and pay for abatement. “It dramatically increases the number of facilities that might be required to inspect and remediate lead paint hazards,” Ms. Feedhoff said.

The federal government banned lead-based paint for residential use in 1978. But the EPA estimates that 31 million homes built before that contain lead-based paint, 3.8 million of which are home to one or more children under the age of 6.

Lead dust often occurs when paint deteriorates or is disturbed, and young children are at particularly high risk of exposure through activities such as crawling and hand-to-mouth play. Lead poisoning can cause behavioral problems, learning disabilities and a decline in measured intelligence levels.

Under the proposed regulation, any amount of lead dust in floors and window sills would qualify as “hazardous” and require abatement, compared to the current “hazardous” standard of 10 micrograms per square foot for floors and 100 micrograms per square foot for window sills. . It would also lower the amount of lead dust that can legally remain in dust on floors, windowsills and window troughs after removal activities.

The regulation would apply to facilities regularly used by children 6 years of age or younger, including child care centers, preschools and kindergarten classrooms.

The proposed rule change is the May 2021 result opinion by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in response to a complaint against the EPA filed by multiple environmental and health groups.

“This is a leap forward in the country’s long-delayed efforts to eliminate lead exposure in millions of homes and child care facilities that still have lead-based paint,” said Eve Gartner, director of toxic strategies at Earthjustice, which represented some of the. those plaintiffs. “Our clients in these lawsuits are grateful and look forward to the speedy conclusion and implementation of this important rulemaking.”

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