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EPA Draft Staff Paper Outlines Lead Air Quality Standards Review

Release Date: 12/05/2006
Contact Information: John Millett, (202) 564-4355 / millett.john@epa.gov

(12/5/06) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing its first Draft Staff Paper for the Lead National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). The document is part of the agency's review of the lead NAAQS to ensure that federal air quality standards reflect the latest air pollution and health effects research. The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set, and periodically review, NAAQS for six major pollutants.

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 2006.

As a result of removing lead from gasoline and other EPA regulations, airborne lead concentrations have decreased dramatically in the United States. From 1980 to 2005, national lead air quality levels have dropped more than 90 percent.

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 Lead Staff Paper.

EPA will accept public comment on the lead documents until Feb. 5, 2007.

To date, the lead NAAQS review has followed our historic approach to reviewing NAAQS, including issuance of a criteria document and a first draft staff paper. The agency is now moving forward to implement a new, more efficient process for conducting NAAQS reviews. EPA intends to transition to the new process during the course of the lead NAAQS review.

Copies of the draft staff paper and a related fact sheet: epa.gov/ttn/naaqs/standards/pb/s_pb_cr_sp.html

More about the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for lead: epa.gov/ttn/naaqs/standards/pb/s_pb_index.html