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EPA: Belding, Michigan Does Not Meet New Air Standards for Lead

Release Date: 06/15/2011
Contact Information: Phillippa Cannon, 312-353-6218, cannon.phillippa@epa.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 11-OPA_055

Action necessary to improve air quality and protect community health

Chicago, Illinois (June 15, 2011) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today proposed approval of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s finding that parts of the City of Belding (Ionia County) do not meet the new national air quality standard for lead based on data from an air monitor there. If designated as nonattainment later this year, Michigan will be required to submit a plan to EPA by June 2013 that will result in a reduction in lead emissions to bring this area into compliance with national air quality standards.

In 2008, EPA strengthened the nation’s air quality standards by setting a limit for lead of 0.15 micrograms of lead per cubic meter. EPA also required that monitors be located near significant sources of lead emissions.
In response, MDEQ placed a monitor in Belding because Mueller Industries is a source of lead emissions. MDEQ has already begun taking steps to reduce elevated lead levels in Belding. More information about the state’s efforts is available on its website http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135-3310-244345--,00.html
There is no evidence to indicate that other parts of Michigan have failed to meet the new standard.

A 30-day public comment period will commence when EPA’s decision is formally announced in the Federal Register.

Even at low levels, exposure to lead can impair a child’s IQ, learning capabilities and memory. Although airborne lead levels have dropped dramatically in the United States since the transition to unleaded gas, the latest science indicates the stronger standards are necessary to protect children. More information about new national air quality standards for lead is available on EPA’s website: http://www.epa.gov/leaddesignations.