The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to re-establish protective lead hazard standards for old homes and child-occupied facilities such as schools and daycare centers. The decision came after a lawsuit was filed in 2019 by Earthjustice on behalf of community and advocacy groups stating that the current lead dust hazard standards were too lax to protect children and families, which the Trump Administration made changes to earlier that year.
The recent ruling also ordered the EPA to update its definition of lead-based paint. Under the EPA’s current definition set in 1992, it is “55 times less protective than the definition used by the Consumer Product Safety Commission,” Earthjustice reported.
“We’re grateful that the 9th Circuit determined the EPA’s weak standards violate the law and failed to protect children,” Johnathan J. Smith, Earthjustice attorney, said. “There is no safe level of lead exposures for children. Strengthening the standards will protect millions of children from exposure to dangerous levels of lead dust at their homes and schools.”
Lead exposure from paint is the most common cause of lead poisoning. And studies find that living in older structures where lead-based paint was most likely used is the most common risk factor. Lead paint disintegrates over time and attaches to dust throughout homes and school as well as seeping into the soil.
According to the Centers for Disease and Control, there is no safe level of exposure of lead for children and the most common cause of lead poisoning is from ingesting lead dust. Lead causes lower IQ, learning disabilities and impaired hearing in children.