New Draft Paper Part Of EPA's Review Of Lead Air Quality Standards

EPA announced on Dec. 5 the release of its first Draft Staff Paper for Lead, which is part of the agency's review of the lead National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) to ensure that federal standards reflect the latest air pollution and health effects research. The draft is intended to meet part of court order requiring EPA to review its health standard for lead pollution in the air.

This initial draft document does not include any conclusions or recommendations with regard to keeping or changing the current lead air quality standard. The draft includes assessments and preliminary analyses related to: air quality characterization; integration and evaluation of health information; human exposure analysis and health risk assessment; evaluation and analysis of information on vegetation damage and other welfare effects. The draft is based upon the agency's Air Quality Criteria Document for Lead, which was issued in October.

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for "criteria pollutants." Currently, lead and five other major pollutants are listed as criteria pollutants. (The others are ozone, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter.) The law also requires EPA to periodically review the standards to ensure that they provide adequate health and environmental protection, and to update those standards as necessary.

In response to a case filed by the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, Eastern Division, issued a decision in September 2005 that a review of the lead NAAQS should be completed by Sept. 1, 2008 (Missouri Coalition for the Environment vs. EPA). The court-ordered schedule requires EPA to:

  • finalize the Air Quality Criteria Document for Lead by Oct. 1, 2006.
  • prepare a draft of the staff paper by Jan. 1, 2007.
  • finalize the staff paper no later than Nov. 1, 2007.
  • have the proposed rulemaking signed no later than May 1, 2008
  • complete a final rulemaking by Sept. 1, 2008.

Later this month, EPA will release its draft Lead Human Exposure and Health Risk Assessments and Ecological Risk Assessment for Selected Areas (Pilot Phase). This technical support document will present initial results from the exposure and risk assessments that are summarized and discussed in the first Draft Staff Paper for Lead.

EPA will accept public comment on the lead documents until Feb. 5, 2007. The first Draft Staff Paper for Lead is available at http://www.epa.gov/ttn/naaqs/standards/pb/s_pb_cr_sp.html. The draft Lead Human Exposure and Health Risk Assessments and Ecological Risk Assessment for Selected Areas (Pilot Phase) will be available at http://www.epa.gov/ttn/naaqs/standards/pb/s_pb_cr_td.html.

This article originally appeared in the 12/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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