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New EPA Lead Standard Significantly Improved to Protect Kids' Health
Date:10/16/2008

But EPA Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee Member Says EPA Analysis Justified Even Better Standard

WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken a significant step to protect the health of children by strengthening the nation's air quality standard for lead today, according to Environmental Defense Fund.

"While EPA's own analysis justifies an even lower lead standard, this tenfold reduction will go a long way to protecting children most at risk from airborne lead," said Environmental Defense Fund Chief Health Scientist Dr. John Balbus (http://edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=894), a member of the EPA Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee. "It's refreshing to see the agency follow the science and the advice of its experts in making this decision."

The new standard for lead in the air, 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter (microgram/m3), is a tenfold reduction from the current standard of 1.5 microgram/m3 and is within the range recommended to the EPA by its science advisors. The current standard dates back to 1978, a time when leaded gasoline was widely used in automobiles and children's average blood lead levels were seven times higher than today. Most importantly, in 1978, the serious effects of low level lead exposure on children were not yet well understood.

Lead is a potent neurotoxin that interferes with children's brain development and worsens performance on IQ tests. EPA's analysis has shown that to prevent a measurable decrease in IQ for the most vulnerable children in the country, the lead standard would need to be set as low as 0.02 microgram/m3. In addition to strong evidence for harm to children's neurological development at low levels, new science indicates that lead exposures throughout life can increase risks of cardiovascular illness and mortality.

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SOURCE Environmental Defense Fund
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