EPA Releases Federal Lead Action Plan

It did not get much press, but earlier this month the Trump Administration, through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Health and Human Services, announced the long-awaited Federal Lead Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts.  According to EPA, the goals of the “Lead Action Plan” are fairly straightforward:

GOAL 1:         Reduce Children’s Exposure to Lead Sources

GOAL 2:         Identify Lead-Exposed Children and Improve Their Health Outcomes

GOAL 3:         Communicate More Effectively with Stakeholders

GOAL 4:         Support and Conduct Critical Research to Inform Efforts to Reduce Lead Exposures and Related Health Risks

The plan resulted from collaboration across multiple federal agencies and departments comprising the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children to reach a consensus on how to reduce children’s lead exposure.  The plan’s summary describes it as “a blueprint for reducing lead exposure and associated harms through collaboration among federal agencies with a range of stakeholders, including states, tribes and local communities, along with businesses, property owners and parents.”

According to EPA’s press release, EPA will take the lead and develop an implementation plan by March 2019 that will enable it to track its progress and update the public as it works to carry out the action plan and mitigate childhood lead exposure.

Mitigating childhood exposure to lead is significant.  As the Lead Action Plan warns, exposing children to lead can cause irreversible and life-long health effects and there is no safe blood lead level in children.  Even low levels of lead in blood can affect IQ, the ability to pay attention and a child’s academic achievement.  To reduce children’s lead exposure, the Lead Action Plan calls for reducing exposure in homes and child-occupied facilities with lead-based paint hazards, reducing exposure in drinking water, soils and air emissions, reducing exposure from occupational sources, reducing exposure in food and reducing exposure in cosmetics, personal care products and consumer items.   The action plan also calls for reducing exposure through enforcement and compliance.

While the plan has garnered some praise, it is not without its critics, either.  Some environmental groups and childhood health advocates contend the action plan does not go far enough to protect children as past efforts have.  See http://blogs.edf.org/health/2018/12/20/lead-action-plan-missed-opportunity/, in which the Environmental Defense Fund contends the plan is a missed opportunity to protect children. If you are interested in reviewing the plan yourself, a full copy of the plan is available at https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-12/documents/fedactionplan_lead_final.pdf

Picture: https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/

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