Due to Pontential Risk of Lead Pollution EPA Urged to Remove Lead from The Criteria Pollutants.
Lead is a heavy metal that is found naturally in the Earth's crust. It has historically been used in a number of household products.
More than 4% of children in the United States have lead poisoning. Rates of lead poisoning are higher in large cities and among people with low incomes.Deteriorated lead-based paint in older homes and high levels of lead-contaminated house dust are the most common sources of lead poisoning in U.S. children. Lead paint is present in an estimated 24 million U.S. homes. More than 4 million of these are homes to one or more young children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Toddlers explore their world by putting things in their mouths. Therefore, young children who live in older buildings are at especially high risk of getting lead poisoning. Children can get lead poisoning by chewing on pieces of peeling paint or by swallowing house dust or soil that contains tiny chips of the leaded paint from these buildings.
Lead can also be in air, water and food. Lead levels in the air have gone down greatly since lead was taken out of gasoline in the 1970s. Lead is still found in some old water pipes, although using lead solder to mend or put together water pipes is no longer allowed in the United States. Lead can also be found in food or juice stored in foreign-made cans or improperly fired ceramic containers.
Children who are most at risk. Babies and young children especially are susceptible to lead exposure because they have a tendency to put objects in their mouths. They may eat or chew paint chips, or their hands or other objects placed in their mouths may be contaminated with lead dust. Lead poisoning is more dangerous to fetuses, babies and children than to adults because lead is more easily absorbed into growing bodies. The tissue of children also is more sensitive to lead's damaging effects. Although lead exposure can affect any child, those who are most at risk are low-income children who live in older housing, usually in inner city areas.
Adults who are most at risk. Adults may breathe in lead dust while remodeling a home, while working on certain jobs with lead exposure or while engaging in a hobby, such as making stained glass or refinishing furniture. If you're pregnant, take extra precautions, because lead can damage your developing fetus.
U.S. environmental regulators are considering removing lead, a heavy metal linked to learning problems in children, from a list of regulated pollutants because past rules have greatly reduced levels of the toxin.
An Environmental Protection Agency staff paper released,said the agency would evaluate the status of lead as an air pollutant and "assess whether the revocation of the standard is an appropriate option for the Administrator to consider."
The EPA said that from 1980 to 2005 the national annual lead concentrations have dropped more than 90 percent. Lead levels in air have mostly fallen because it was banned as a gasoline additive starting in the 1970s. Auto makers had asked for the ban because it damaged catalytic converters.
Criteria pollutants on the National Ambient Air Quality list are reviewed every five years under the Clean Air Act.
Now one of the leading emitters of lead pollution is the battery industry.
An environmentalist said the EPA was pressured to review the status of lead as a pollutant by industry.
"The EPA would be cutting a big sweetheart deal for the lead smelter industry if they revoked the listing," said Frank O'Donnell, president of Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group Clean Air Watch. He said the lead assessment was an example of the EPA subordinating the expertise of agency scientists.
EPA officials could not be immediately reached.
In a letter last July to the EPA, industry group the Battery Council International urged the agency to "delete lead from the criteria pollutants."
A U.S. lawmaker also derided the EPA for considering the revocation of the lead listing.
In a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, U.S. Representative Henry Waxman (news, bio, voting record), a California Democrat, said: "I am writing to urge you to renounce this dangerous proposal immediately. At a time when the public health impacts of environmental pollution are becoming better understood and our reason for concern grows, this announcement by EPA is particularly misdirected."
EPA expects to release potential policy options on lead for the agency's administrator to consider next summer.