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EPA Expands Air Monitoring Network to Protect Children from Lead

Release Date: 12/15/2010
Contact Information: Enesta Jones (News Media only), jones.enesta@epa.gov, 202-564-7873, 202-564-4355

EPA Expands Air Monitoring Network to Protect Children from Lead

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will expand the nation’s air quality monitoring network to ensure that the most vulnerable Americans are protected from exposure to lead. Even at low levels, exposure to lead can impair a child’s IQ, learning capabilities and memory.

EPA is strengthening lead monitoring requirements to ensure that air quality is measured near industrial facilities that emit a half ton or more of lead per year. Previously, the agency required monitoring near facilities emitting at least one ton of lead per year. EPA is also requiring monitoring at a network of multi-pollutant air quality monitoring sites in large urban areas. These changes will ensure monitoring occurs at the largest sources of lead emissions and will help assess typical lead levels in communities throughout the country.


Monitors will continue to be placed at airports emitting at least one ton of lead per year. EPA will also require the states to conduct a year-long monitoring study at 15 airports that emit less than one ton to determine how these sources impact air quality in the surrounding area.

This rule will help EPA implement a 2008 requirement to lower the amount of lead allowed in air. States have one year from the publication date of this rule to have the new monitors in place.

Lead emitted into the air can be inhaled or can be ingested after it settles in the environment. Ingestion is the main route of human exposure. Children are the most susceptible to lead poisoning because they are more likely to ingest lead, and their bodies are developing rapidly. There is no known safe level of lead in the human body.

More information: http://www.epa.gov/air/lead