EPA Tightens Standards For Lead Emissions | October 20, 2008 Issue - Vol. 86 Issue 42 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 86 Issue 42 | p. 39 | Concentrates
Issue Date: October 20, 2008

EPA Tightens Standards For Lead Emissions

Department: Government & Policy
News Channels: Environmental SCENE

Last week, EPA revised the nation’s air-quality standards for lead for the first time in three decades, tightening the allowable lead level 10-fold to 0.15 µg of lead per m3 of air. “America’s air is cleaner than a generation ago,” EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson said at a press conference. “With these stronger standards, a new generation of Americans is being protected from harmful lead emissions, especially children.” The previous standards were set at 1.5 µg/m3 in 1978 when 74,000 tons of lead were emitted into the air annually. EPA set two new standards: a primary standard at 0.15 µg/m3 to protect health and a secondary standard at the same level to protect the environment. Studies have linked exposure to low levels of lead with damage to children’s development, including IQ loss. Johnson said the agency will designate areas of the country that must take additional steps to reduce air emissions of lead by October 2011, and states will then have five years to meet the new standards. Lead emissions have dropped nearly 97% nationwide since 1980, due in large part to the phaseout of leaded gasoline. An estimated 1,300 tons of lead is still emitted each year from a variety of sources, including smelters, iron and steel foundries, and general aviation gasoline.

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