Reducing childhood lead exposure is among the seven enforcement and compliance assurance priority areas for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the fiscal years 2020-2023. Six of the seven priorities are National Compliance Initiatives, which will be led by the EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA), according to a news release. For the seventh priority area, lead exposure, OECA will contribute to the agency's implementation of the Lead Action Plan, which was issued in December 2018.
“EPA’s enforcement and compliance assurance program focuses on achieving environmental outcomes, not targeting specific industry sectors,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Susan Bodine. “With these National Compliance Initiatives, we will focus our resources on addressing significant environmental problems and risks to human health.”
Rather than develop an NCI to address lead exposure, the EPA's enforcement and compliance and assistance program will contribute to the agency's goal of reducing childhood lead exposures outlined in its Lead Action Plan, according to the agency. The agency-wide efforts may include increasing compliance with lead-safe renovations under the Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule, developing a mapping tool to identify communities with elevated lead exposures, conducting targeted geographic initiatives, and undertaking public awareness campaigns on lead issues.
RRP requires that when remodelers are working in houses built before 1978 on projects that could disturb lead paint, they must determine whether any lead paint is present and—if they do find presence of the paint or didn't do a test—must then use certain practices to contain the spread of the lead-paint dust while they perform the remodel. The company doing the work and the renovators following lead-safe work practices both must be certified by EPA-approved training programs.
The EPA has begun targeted geographic initiatives in Vermont and the Maine and New Hampshire seacoast areas. Both areas have many older residences built prior to lead paint's ban in 1978 that have not been renovated. The initiative in New Hampshire and Maine, which began in the spring of 2018, resulted in 286 certifications of companies or firms, 1,156 training certifications of individuals, and 59 lead inspections.
The agency issues an update to the Lead Action Plan in April, highlighting activities being conducted to support the reduction of childhood lead exposure. The agency has proposed strengthening the dust-lead hazard standards for floors and window sills and has awarded 17 nationwide grants to train and certify individuals for jobs in the environmental field, including lead abatement. The EPA also completed planning for a lean pilot project in six cities to increase the number of RRP-certified firms and trained contractors.
Other enforcement and compliance assurance priority areas include improving air quality, ensuring clean and safe water, and reducing risk from hazardous chemicals.