Lead

Lead Regulations

Lead in Paint, Dust and Soil
Lead in Water
Lead in Air
Lead in Waste Disposal

Lead in Paint, Dust and Soil

Title IV of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), as well as other authorities in the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, directs EPA to regulate lead-based paint hazards. Read about EPA regulations on lead in paint, dust and soil.

August 6, 2014 -- EPA is seeking public comment on the “Approach for Estimating Exposures and Incremental Health Effects from Lead Due to Renovation Repair and Painting Activities in Public and Commercial Buildings.” The document describes in detail the modeling methodology that can be used to estimate the amount of lead in the environment and in people’s bodies, and health effects related to exposure to lead-based paint as a result of renovation, repair and painting activities in public and commercial buildings.

Following public input, EPA will seek independent scientific peer review of the report. EPA will consider public comments on these documents and other information as the Agency assesses whether lead-based paint hazards are created by public and commercial building renovations. Any proposed regulation would also be open for public review and comment. Read the Federal Register announcement and the Approach document.

May 28, 2014 -- EPA is seeking public comment on the “Framework for Identifying and Evaluating Lead-Based Paint Hazards from Renovation, Repair, and Painting Activities in Public and Commercial Buildings.” The Framework describes a tailored approach for identifying and evaluating potential hazards created by renovations of public and commercial buildings. EPA will consider the public comments as the Agency assesses whether hazards are created by public and commercial building renovations. The Agency will develop proposed requirements to reduce any hazards, if found; such requirements would also be subject to public review and comment. Read the Federal Register announcement and the Framework.

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Lead in Water

Lead in water is regulated under both the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act.

Clean Water Act:

Direct Discharges of Lead into Water

The CWA prohibits anyone from discharging pollutants, including lead, through a point source into a water of the United States unless they have a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. NPDES permits contain limits on what you can discharge, monitoring and reporting requirements, and other provisions to ensure that the discharge does not hurt water quality or people's health. As appropriate, NPDES permits must contain:

  • Technology-Based Effluent Limitation Guidelines: Effluent guidelines are technology-based regulations to control industrial wastewater discharges. The guidelines are based on the performance of treatment and control technologies. Currently, EPA has issued 19 industry effluent guideline regulations that contain a limit for lead discharges.
  • Water Quality-Based Effluent Limitations (WQBELs): A WQBEL is a value determined by selecting the most stringent of the effluent limits calculated using all applicable state ambient water quality criteria (e.g., aquatic life, human health, and wildlife) for a specific point source to a specific receiving water for a given pollutant. As part of their water quality standards regulations, states and authorized tribes adopt ambient water quality criteria with sufficient coverage of parameters, such as lead, and of adequate stringency to protect the designated uses of their surface waters. In adopting criteria, states and tribes may:

States and tribes typically adopt both numeric and narrative criteria.

Pretreatment Standards and Limits

In addition to direct discharges, wastewaters may be indirectly discharged into waters of the U.S.

  • through sewer systems connected to publicly owned treatment works (POTW) that discharge directly to waters of the U.S. or
  • by being introduced by truck or rail into a POTW that discharges directly.

Typically pretreatment standards are applied to industrial users by the POTW under pretreatment permits.

  • Prohibited Discharge Standards: The CWA requires EPA to promulgate federal standards for the pretreatment of wastewater introduced to a POTW that interferes with, passes through, or is otherwise incompatible with POTW operations. Section 307(d) of the CWA then prohibits discharge in violation of any pretreatment standard. EPA has promulgated regulations that establish national pretreatment standards that include general and specific prohibitions on the introduction of certain pollutants into POTWs.
  • Categorical Pretreatment Standards: Categorical Pretreatment Standards limit the pollutant discharges to POTWs from specific process wastewaters of particular industrial categories. Categorical Pretreatment Standards are technology-based regulations to control industrial wastewater discharges, which apply regardless of whether or not the POTW has an approved pretreatment program or the industrial user has been issued a control mechanism or permit. Currently, EPA has issued 15 categorical pretreatment standards that contain a limit for lead discharges.
  • Local Limits: In addition to EPA's national pretreatment standards, POTW pretreatment programs must develop local limits or demonstrate that they are unnecessary. EPA has identified lead as one of 15 pollutants often found in POTW sludge and effluent that it considers a potential pollutant of concern. EPA recommends that each POTW, at a minimum, screen for the presence of these pollutants. For additional information, please see Chapter 3 of EPA's Local Limits Development Guidance, July 2004 (EPA-833-R-04-002A) (PDF) (134 pp, 2.3MB ).

In addition to being discharged through sewer systems connected to POTWs, wastewater may also be disposed of at centralized waste treatment facilities. Technology-based standards for centralized waste treatment facilities can be found at 40 CFR Part 437.

Safe Drinking Water Act:

Lead in drinking water is regulated under the Lead and Copper Rule.

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Lead in Air

Lead in the air is regulated two ways under the Clean Air Act:

Under the lead NAAQS, EPA limits how much lead there can be in the ambient (outdoor) air. EPA also specifies requirements for the siting of monitoring stations to measure lead in the ambient air in locations across the country where lead levels may be elevated, such as around industrial facilities and airports, as well as in large urban areas. Also, in order to help attain or maintain the lead NAAQS, EPA’s New Source Review permitting programs require any large new or modified stationary source to get a permit before it begins construction. This is to ensure the new construction incorporates state-of-the-art pollution controls, and will not cause or contribute to a violation of the lead NAAQS, or interfere with reasonable progress toward attainment of the NAAQS.

EPA regulates toxic air pollutants by limiting the emissions that come from some industrial sources. The regulations that limit toxic air pollutant emissions are called National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants, or NESHAPs. Two regulations that focus on limiting lead emissions are the NESHAPs for Primary Lead Smelting and Secondary Lead Smelting. Other NESHAPs control lead that is emitted along with other toxic air pollutants.

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Lead Waste and Cleanup

Several EPA programs address the disposal and cleanup of lead waste.

In addition, EPA's waste disposal and cleanup programs often involve sites contaminated with lead.

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