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Environment

Limit on Lead in air could get axed

January 8, 2007 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 85, ISSUE 2

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Credit: BP
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Credit: BP

The Bush Administration is considering elimination of a national limit for lead pollution in air. In a draft policy assessment released last month, EPA said it is weighing whether revocation of the air standard for lead "is an appropriate option," as part of its periodic reevaluation of the current standard of 1.5 µg per m3 of air for the neurotoxic metal, which must be done by September 2008. The agency is also evaluating whether to remove lead from the list of six pollutants it uses to determine the status of air quality, according to the draft document. Since the level of lead in gasoline was cut, airborne emissions of lead have dropped, the agency noted. EPA's draft document is available at www.epa.gov/ttn/naaqs/standards/pb/s_pb_cr_sp.html. In a related development, five studies published last month in Environmental Health Perspectives indicate that levels of lead previously thought to be safe are dangerous. For example, blood lead levels below 5 µg per deciliter have been found to elevate blood pressure and may have harmful effects on the heart.

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