Dec 24, 2018

EPA Releases Federal Lead Action Plan

The plan focuses on reducing lead exposure in children from paint and drinking water

EPA reveals new lead action plan for lead in drinking water
EPA reveals new lead action plan

The U.S. EPA, U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and U.S. Health and Human Services announced the Trump Administration’s Federal Lead Action Plan to reduce childhood lead exposures and associated health impacts (Lead Action Plan). The new federal lead action plan will work to reduce children’s exposure to lead sources; identify lead-exposed children and improve their health outcomes; communicate more effectively with stakeholders; and support and conduct critical research to inform efforts to reduce lead exposures and related health risks, according to a press release by the EPA.

According to the release, the plan was developed through cross-governmental collaboration of the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children, which includes 17 federal departments and offices, to create a blueprint for reducing lead exposure. The EPA will release an implementation plan by March 2019 that includes performance metrics for monitoring progress in the Federal Lead Action Plan.

“The Federal Lead Action Plan will enhance the Trump Administration’s efforts to identify and reduce lead contamination while ensuring children impacted by lead exposure are getting the support and care they need,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

The plan has received backlash from environmental and health organizations who argue it is a toothless plan without concrete actions to limit or monitor lead exposure, as reported by NPR.

“This plan does not actually promise to take specific regulatory or enforcement action within any specific time,” said Erik Olson, senior director of Health and Food for the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a statement. “Feel-good promises to ‘consider’ and ‘evaluate’ action without time frames or commitments… won’t protect children.”

The plan does not address the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule for drinking water, which has not been significantly revised since it was created in 1991. The rule has often been a subject of controversy as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control already has concluded that no level of lead in children is safe, as reported by The Huffington Post.

“Two years ago, the task force said that the goal was to eliminate lead poisoning and to realize environmental justice especially for high-risk communities,” said Emily Benfer, visiting associate clinical professor of law at Columbia University Law School who directs the health justice advocacy clinic. “This task force is talking about simply reducing exposure and not taking any concrete steps to actually make that happen. And without a dedicated funding stream, it’s really just talk.”

However, Ben Carson, the head of HUD, did make a concrete commitment to fund childhood lead protection. HUD awarded more than $139 million in grants to 48 state and local government agencies to protect children and family from lead-based paint, according to NPR.

"I'm committed our department's resources reach the doors of high-risk Americans at the prevention stage, long before the children are exposed to dangerous chemicals for which they might later need a cure," Carson said.