New State and Federal Protections for Lead

June has proved to be a very significant month for the protection of children from lead hazards lurking in our homes and communities. Michigan has a new lead and copper rule for water and the EPA announced new lead-dust hazard standards.

Lead and Copper Rule

On June 14th, the State of Michigan finalized a new, strongest in the nation lead and copper rule. The new rule drops the action level for lead in a community’s water system from the federal level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) to 12 ppb by 2025. While not as strong at the originally proposed action level of 10 ppb, this is a step in the right direction. In the wake of the Flint Water Crisis, your calls for stronger standards and better protections for lead in water were successful.

In the long term, communities across the state will have to replace of the 500,000 lead services lines in Michigan by 2040. The plan will be costly over time and we believe that the state’s work is not yet complete as communities and consumers will need affordable ways to fund these infrastructure improvements so cost is not just borne by water customers. But for now we are celebrating the new lower action level.

Proposed Lead-Dust Hazard Standard

Following on the heels of Michigan’s new lead and copper rule, the EPA unveiled a new lead-dust hazard action level on June 22nd. The proposed standard is open for public comment for 45 days. The action level for lead-dust in homes, daycare facilities, and other buildings would drop from 250 µg/ft2 to  100 µg/ft2 for window sills and from 40 µg/ft2 to 10 µg/ft2 for dust on floors.

This proposal didn’t come easily though. The lead-dust standards haven’t been updated since 2001 despite calls for a stronger standard from advocates like you, environmental organizations, and lead poisoning prevention advocates. Since 2001 we have learned a great deal about the negative health impacts that even low levels of lead exposure can have on children’s brain development. We know that there is no safe level of lead for a child!

Last December, the EPA was ordered by the Ninth Circuit court to update the standards. The court filled the ruling because of a lawsuit brought by national and state environmental groups. We are celebrating this victory but we remain vigilant to ensure that the rule does not get watered down over the course of the next few months that the EPA has to finalize the standard.

Listen to Rebecca Meuninck, Ecology Center Deputy Director discuss new lead-dust standard on Michigan Radio.

Published on June 27, 2018