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Environmental Assessment


The Issue
Lead is a highly toxic metal known to damage the brain, nerves, kidneys, heart, and other organs. Exposure to lead can also causes seizures, mental retardation, behavioral disorders, memory problems, mood changes, learning disorders and lowered IQ.

EPA Action
Since the 1980's, EPA and its federal partners have phased out lead in gasoline, reduced lead in drinking water and in industrial air pollution, and banned or limited lead used in consumer products such as residential paint. As a result of EPA's regulatory efforts, levels of lead in the air have decreased by 94% between 1980 and 1999. The amount of lead in people's blood has also decreased significantly in recent years: a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reported a 78% decrease in the levels of lead in people's blood between 1976 and 1991.

EPA's National Center for Environmental Assessment periodically evaluates the latest research concerning the public health and welfare effects of lead and publishes the Air Quality Criteria Document for Lead. This document provides the scientific basis for the establishment of national air quality standards for lead.

The latest version of the Air Quality Criteria Document for Lead was published in October 2006. Air quality criteria documents are vetted through a rigorous peer review process, including review by the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Council and public comment periods.

Related Links

Best Resources

U.S. EPA. Air Quality Criteria for Lead (2006) Final Report. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-05/144aF-bF, 2006.

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