Public Interest Advocates Settle RRP Lawsuit—Additional Protections Required
A coalition of public interest
advocates announced a settlement of a lawsuit against the US EPA over shortcomings
in its Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule on August 26th.
As a result of the settlement, EPA will be required to
propose several enhancements to the RRP rule on a staggered schedule starting
in October and spanning the next six years. By law, EPA cannot agree to make
specific changes, only propose them and solicit comment on them prior to making
a final decision. However, the petitioners reserve their right under the settlement
to continue the lawsuit should EPA not implement changes requested under the
Prior to the rule’s April 22, 2010 effective date,
EPA will propose to eliminate the owner-occupied opt-out provision, which not
only altered the Congressional definition of "target housing," but
also posed continued risks to future occupants and neighbors, not to mention
gave contractors an excuse to get out of the habit of working safely and poison
themselves and their families. The settlement also requires additional disclosures
to the owner and occupant of the property, ensuring that tenants will receive
information rapidly, and without dependence on the landlord, about what was
done (or not done) in their unit.
Next year, the EPA will be required to propose adding to
the rule that renovators will have to perform dust testing after certain "dusty"
jobs, and in a select few circumstances meet full clearance testing. This addition
to the rule will at last ground federal RRP in the concept of quantitative dust
testing. Renovators will have to become aware of testing; demand will help stimulate
a market for post-work dust sampling and lab sample analysis. It will also ensure
that those who potentially created the hazards are required to provide real
information about lead levels to property owners and occupants who can then
make decisions to protect their families.
Unfortunately, when EPA requires dust testing as mentioned
above, they may not necessarily require compliance with the dust standards.
In other words, a renovator will be required to have a dust sample collected
and analyzed. They will not, however, be required to take any action beyond
disclosing the result to the owner and occupant (excepting those few jobs that
require actual “clearance.”)
Further down the road, the settlement requires EPA to propose
extending the rule to also cover public and commercial buildings. EPA will first
look at exterior work done on such buildings since this could contaminate surrounding
properties and then consider interior work.
The settlement represents a tremendous step forward. However,
there is more to do.
Please join the Alliance in advocating for additional protections.
When the EPA proposes the dust testing requirements, they need to hear from
all of us in the lead poisoning prevention community that letting contractors
walk away from lead hazards is bad policy. We must demand real clearance, and
we must use some of the time between then and now to work on gathering the evidence
to support this. As immediately, we need to work at the state and local level
to ensure states go the extra distance. The settlement makes it easier for states
to do the right thing and require full clearance, but it is not foolproof. Now
is the time to work with fellow advocates, including public agency folks and
legislators, to ensure that your state includes a requirement that when dust
samples fail, someone is on the hook to solve the problem.
The petitioners in the case were The Sierra Club, Center
for Environmental Health, Linda Kite, New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning,
Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, New York Public Interest Research
Group, and Make the Road New York. The Alliance and our colleagues at the National
Center for Healthy
Housing provided technical assistance to the petitioners during the negotiations.
Recommends End to Universal Lead Screening for Medicaid
On August 7, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
issued substantially revised recommendations for the lead screening of Medicaid-Eligible
children. Since 1989, Medicaid has required all enrolled children to receive
lead testing as part of EPSDT services. Currently, Medicaid requires all children
to be tested at 12 and at 24 months, and if not previously
tested, then once between 36 and 72 months of age. In many states, while the
state may issue screening guidelines or recommendations, the Medicaid guideline
is the only "enforceable" screening requirement mandated by law.
The CDC is proposing that Medicaid move away from this
universal screening requirement in states "where the risk for EBLs is determined
to be no higher for Medicaid-eligible children than for other children in the
state." Although no specific data was provided in the recommendation, CDC
asserts that in some states Medicaid eligibility is no longer a pronounced risk
factor for lead poisoning. In these states, rather than screen all children,
Medicaid will require enrolled children to be screened in accordance with a
state specified screening plan that targets the highest risk sub-populations
of Medicaid-enrolled children, similar to targeted screening plans for non-Medicaid
enrolled children in many states. It is unclear whether any federal agency would
be required to approve these plans before their implementation, but the CDC
offered guidance in the recommendation about what should be included in a plan.
The Alliance hosted a conference call on August 19th to
discuss the proposed changes with state and local advocates and health officials.
Participants raised a number of questions and concerns about the proposed policy,
which have been shared with the CDC. Click here for a full
list of questions posed to the CDC.
From a technical perspective, many questioned both the
quality of the data and methods CDC may use to determine whether or not there
is a risk disparity between the Medicaid and non-Medicaid population. For example,
the CDC recommendation frames the decision around the EBL rate, or percentage
of children with blood lead levels of 10 ?g/dL or higher. This outdated standard
fails to recognize the proven harm to children at lower levels. It is possible
that Medicaid-eligible children continue to have higher mean blood lead levels
or a greater possibility of having a blood lead level over one, two, or five
than non-Medicaid eligible children.
Many participants also shared concerns about the successful
implementation of such a targeted screening process, especially how effectively
screening questions could be utilized in busy doctor’s offices, and how
success could be measured when it was extremely difficult to determine a denominator
of who should be screened under the state-specific policies. Noting the progress
made in many areas to increase physician awareness of lead screening requirements,
several call participants were concerned the change would send the wrong message
and decrease compliance with screening guidelines. Finally, some suggested a
universal approach was warranted given the increased discovery of cases from
“unusual” sources that may be difficult to determine with a traditional
screening questionnaire. (In fact, the week after CDC issued its recommendation,
it’s own MMWR
reported on several cases of children poisoned through take-home
exposures, noting, “…the children in this study might not have been
tested had they not been on Medicaid, particularly because clinical signs and
symptoms of lead poisoning are not seen at these venous BLLs and the occupational
exposure might have gone unrecognized by the provider.”)
The Alliance will continue to seek answers to the
questions raised during the conference call, and in the mean time, will press
CDC and CMS to avoid removing the universal screening requirement for Medicaid
Housing Groups Petition EPA to Strengthen Outdated Standards for Lead-based
Paint and Leaded Dust
The Alliance joined the National Center for Healthy Housing
(NCHH), the Sierra Club, and other groups to petition the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) to take steps to more adequately protect children from
the dangers of lead-based paint and leaded dust. The
petition asks EPA to use its authority under Section 6 of the Toxics Substances
Control Act (TSCA) to lower the Federal dust lead and paint lead levels from
the current standards and expand the scope of those standards as required by
statute. Specifically, the groups demand that EPA:
1. Lower floor dust lead hazard standards from 40 micrograms
of lead per square foot of surface area (µg/ft2) to 10 µg/ft2
2. Lower window sill dust lead hazard standards from
250 µg/ft2 to 100 µg/ft2 or less.
3. Reduce the allowable amount of lead in paint and coatings
in housing, child-occupied facilities, and public and commercial buildings
from 0.5 percent by weight (5,000 parts per million (ppm) to 0.06 percent
by weight (600 ppm).
In a study published in March 2009, NCHH found that the
floor dust standard is four times what it ought to be to protect at least 95
percent of children in the United States from having a concentration of lead
in their blood above the current US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) level
Lead dust generated from old lead paint and contaminated
soil is the primary source of exposure for most young children. Since 2001,
EPA has set standards for lead in dust and soil in housing. When homes are tested
for lead dust by a certified risk assessor, inspector, or sampling technician,
they must meet these standards to be considered “safe.”
“EPA’s standards were inadequate when created,
and are downright laughable today. Given what we know about lead’s deleterious
impact on a child’s developing brain, it’s long past time for EPA
to update the standards,” stated Patrick MacRoy, Executive Director for
the Alliance for Healthy Homes.
In a 2007 letter to EPA, the EPA Science Advisory Boards’
Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee’s (CASAC) stated that “outdated
residual surface contamination standards (i.e., dust lead cleanup levels of
40 µg/ft2 for floors and 250 µg/ft2 for window sills) are being
used that are insufficiently protective of children’s health, as indicated
by recent epidemiological studies.” EPA reports that about 250,000 children
aged 1 to 5 years have a blood lead level of 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter
of blood (µg/dL) or greater based on a CDC survey conducted from 2001-2004.
No safe level of exposure to lead has ever been established. Lead poisoning
of young children results in cognitive impairment that can never be regained
and is associated with behavioral disorders.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reversed
its 2005 decision and accepted a petition from a dozen environmental
and public health organizations to immediately begin rulemaking to ban lead
wheel balancing weights. Lead weights are used predominately in the tire replacement
market to balance tires of autos and light trucks and they represent one of
the largest unregulated uses of lead in consumer products today.
EPA first refused a petition under the Bush administration
on August 8, 2005. To compensate for its failure to regulate lead wheel weights,
EPA launched a voluntary National Lead-Free Wheel Weight Initiative (NLFWWI)
in 2008. While the voluntary initiative was a good first step, the NLFWWI fell
short of what was needed to protect children, the public, and the environment.
Recognizing EPA’s lack of enforcement as a significant failure, some states
took up the issue themselves. The state of Washington passed a ban in 2009 which
will go into effect in 2011. Maine passed a ban which will go into effect in
2010. California and Iowa are currently considering similar bans. Vermont has
banned lead wheel weights for state-owned vehicles by 2010 and for all new vehicles
Now, four years after denying children the opportunity
to dramatically reduce their exposure to a major source of new lead on their
streets and in their neighborhoods, the EPA is taking action.
EPA acknowledges that 1.6 million pounds of lead
is lost each year when wheel weights fall off care tire rims. Over time, the
weights may be ground down into small pieces that can contaminate soil. Pieces
may also be washed into waterways through storm sewers. Pollution prevention
is the best way to protect our health and our environment.
For more information, visit http://www.leadfreewheels.org/.
Investigators Find Data Missed by DC Health/CDC in Water Investigation
This month, investigators for the U.S. House of Representatives
Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the Committee on Science and
Technology added to mounting evidence that the adverse public health impact
of Washington DC’s 2001-4 “lead-in-drinking-water” crisis
was far greater than previously acknowledged. The Subcommittee found that 486
young DC children had blood lead levels at or above 10 µg/dL in 2003 –
more than double the 193 children who had been previously
reported as lead-poisoned. Lead poisoning prevention advocates had long suspected
that several thousand blood lead test results were missing in 2003. While blood
lead test data from the other relevant years have not yet been analyzed by the
Subcommittee, the revelation about the 2003 data alone contradicts official
assurances that the leaded water crisis did not significantly harm children.
Eight years ago, a change in the disinfectant chemical
for Washington, DC’s drinking water triggered large increases in lead
levels at the tap during a 2 ½ year period before the problem was revealed
to the public via a Washington Post front page story. Following the crisis,
various researchers, including scientists from US Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC), the DC Department of Health (DOH) and George Washington
University (GWU) authored a pair of scientific papers claiming, incredibly,
that the public health impact was small. The articles were published in CDC’s
Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report and in Environmental
The MMWR paper has been cited by officials in other cities
and school systems to soothe health concerns about findings of high drinking
water lead levels, even though the data relied on by CDC and DOH researchers
to back up their no-significant-harm assertions lacked about one-third of the
blood lead tests and about 60% of the children who had blood lead levels of
10 or greater during 2003. To date, CDC and the District have offered no explanation
for why they published a study based on such an incomplete data set and failed
to mention the crucial data limitation. CDC officials and the principal GWU
author have continued to defend their published articles in the face of demands
by the Alliance and other lead poisoning prevention advocates that the record
In January, a peer-reviewed research study by authors from
Virginia Tech and the Children’s National Medical Center found that hundreds
more children were lead-poisoned during the water crisis than mentioned in the
CDC report. An unpublished 2007 scientific presentation by CDC scientists themselves
reached a similar conclusion. Earlier this year, the EHP paper’s author,
Dr. Tee Guidotti, former director of GWU’s Center for Risk Science and
Public Health, was forced to withdraw a key conclusion of his paper (“There
appears to have been no identifiable public health impact from the elevation
of lead in drinking water in Washington, DC, in 2003 and 2004.”) and apologize
for the conclusion’s reappearance in the paper after EHP editors requested
its deletion prior to publication. A scientific misconduct investigation is
continuing related to other data integrity and conflict of interest allegations
involving the EHP paper and its authors. (See http://dcwasawatch.blogspot.com/2009/06/wasas-health-advisor-to-apologize-for.html
for more information.)
Industry Group Will Disclose Most Fragrance Chemicals Used in Commercial Products
Following months of meetings with the Alliance for Healthy
Homes, the Sierra Club and other environmental health advocates, the International
Fragrance Association (IFRA) announced in August that it will publish by the
end of 2009 a list of virtually all natural and synthetic fragrance ingredients
being used by the fragrance industry’s customers in consumer products.
The list will be published on IFRA’s website, www.ifraorg.org,
and will include the fragrance chemicals used in many common household products
such as cleaners and air fresheners.
While this initiative falls short of listing the specific
fragrance ingredients in specific products, it is a significant development
because it will tell public health advocates about the presence of harmful chemicals
in products generally and make it possible to advocate for limiting or stopping
the use of such chemicals. This could complement industry self-regulation that
has previously banned or restricted the use of more than 200 fragrance materials.
Many people suffer adverse health effects, such as lung irritation, asthma attacks
or migraine headaches, from inhaling fragrances or experience allergic reactions
or irritation from skin contact with some fragrance chemicals. Also, some common
fragrance chemicals react with pollutants in room air to produce formaldehyde
or other related compounds that are harmful. In the past, a few fragrance chemicals
have been discovered to be associated with even more serious health issues including
cancer and degradation of olfactory nerves.
The list will be updated every four years and will include
all fragrance chemicals generated from IFRA’s quadrennial survey of its
affiliated member companies representing about 90% of the world’s production
volume of fragrances. Industry representatives say that the list of fragrance
chemicals in use by IFRA’s members constitutes an even higher percentage
of all the fragrance ingredients in use in all consumer products. The materials
will be listed alphabetically by their chemical name and their Chemical Abstracts
Service (CAS) number.
Until now, companies have been very reluctant to disclose
the fragrance chemicals they use because of intense competition among fragrance
makers and among makers of products that contain these fragrances. The industry
fiercely guards the formulas of their products as confidential business information.
For example, a few months ago, manufacturers of cleaning products, air care
products, automotive care products, polishes and floor maintenance products
agreed to voluntarily disclose ingredients in these products by January 1, 2010.
However, that initiative will list any fragrance, preservative and colorant
chemicals simply as “fragrance,” “preservative,” and
“colorant” respectively. See www.cspa.org/public/media/info/cpici.html
for more information.
The IFRA initiative complements the previously announced
program by providing additional information about the universe of possible fragrance
ingredients that may be used in consumer products. Moreover, health advocates
believe the list could lead to companies using a single name for each fragrance
chemical, thereby eliminating the confusion created by the current use of multiple
names for some chemicals.
Web Resource Highlights State Laws that Impact Healthy Homes
The National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) and the
National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) have partnered
to develop a table providing links to state laws related to healthy homes. Visit
for the listing.
To make it easier, NCHH and NCSL divided the codes into the following categories:
Landlord & Tenant
Housing / Maintenance
Health / Sanitation
Other (such as radon, smoke alarm, fire prevention and
Because this resource is an ongoing effort, NCHH
and NCSL welcome additional feedback on the materials, missing links or references
to other state laws that are directly related to healthy homes. Please contact
NCHH's Tom Neltner at firstname.lastname@example.org
or NCSL's Doug Farquhar at email@example.com.
NCHH will continue to refine the table and begin analysis.
Public Health Leadership Institute Accepting Applications
Each year, approximately 30 practicing environmental public
health professionals are admitted to the program. EPHLI strengthens the country’s
environmental public health system by enhancing the leadership capabilities
of state, local, and tribal environmental public health professionals.
Candle Use Linked to Cancer Risk
South Carolina State University experts recently analyzed
the fumes released by burning candles in lab tests. They found paraffin wax
candles gave off harmful fumes linked to lung cancer and asthma - but admitted
it would take many years’ use to risk health.
To investigate candle emissions, the researchers burned
a range of candles in the laboratory and collected the mixture of substances
they gave off. Paraffin-based candles produced “clear sharp peaks”
for many chemicals, mainly because burning candles does not produce high enough
temperatures to combust hazardous molecules such as toluene and benzene.
Dr Noemi Eiser, medical director at the British Lung
Foundation, added: “We would like to reassure people that occasional use
of paraffin candles should not pose any risk to their lung health.” But
she added people should still take “sensible precautions” such as
ventilating rooms when burning candles. The scientists suggested switching to
candles made from beeswax or soy, which did not release significant levels of
the chemicals. More information is available from an August 20 BBC article http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8211543.stm.
Lead Associated with High Blood Pressure During
A new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives links higher blood
lead levels with high blood pressure in pregnant women,
suggesting that lead exposure may increase the risk of developing hypertension
during pregnancy. 1017 pregnant women were enrolled in two French municipalities
between 2003 and 2005 for the EDEN cohort study. Blood lead concentrations were
measured by atomic absorption spectrometry in mothers between 24 and 28 weeks
Enamel Paint Worldwide Still Contains Lead
University of Cincinnati researchers found that 73% of consumer paint brands
tested from 12 countries in Africa, Asia and South America that represent nearly
half the global population exceeded 600 parts per million (ppm) for lead in
paint. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission's tougher restrictions on lead
in American consumer paints that took effect August 9 lowers the permissible
lead limit in the U.S. from 600 ppm to 90 ppm. Seventy-five percent of paint
samples from India, China and Malaysia contained dangerous levels of lead that
greatly exceeded safety norms, the researchers found, and 69% of the brands
had at least one sample exceeding 10,000 ppm. Researchers analyzed 373 new household
enamel paint samples of various colors and brands, with a minimum of 10 samples
from most countries.
The Alliance for Healthy Homes received accreditation from
EPA this month to provide training for renovators under EPA’s Renovation,
Repair, and Painting Program pursuant to Section 402 of TSCA. The Alliance has
been conducting “Train-the-Trainer” courses
since January of this year, and our accreditation means that participants may
be able to become certified renovators upon successful completion of this class
in the future. To see a list of all accredited training providers, visit http://epa.gov/lead/pubs/trainingproviders.htm.
The Alliance is looking for organizations to host future
train-the-trainer sessions. If your organization is interested in working with
the Alliance to increase local capacity to teach lead safe work practices, contact
Patrick MacRoy at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the Alliance’s
Train the Trainer program, visit http://afhh.org/res/res_training_RRP_train_the_trainer.htm.
* * * * *
If you appreciate the news and information in the Alliance
Alert, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Alliance! We
rely on donations from individuals and organizations to allow us to do policy
work in Washington and across the country. You can make a one-time donation
or sign up to make a recurring monthly or quarterly donation on our website.
Thank you for your support!
* * * * *
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(Leadnet and Healthyhomesnet), visit
A Lead Poisoning Prevention and Healthy Homes Conference
will be taking place Thursday, October 22, 2009 in Wheaton, IL. The conference
will be held at the DuPage County Administration Building, from 9am –
3:30pm. This conference is free and registration may
be done online at www.idph.state.il.us/training.htm.
For questions regarding online registration, contact Vicky Ritz at email@example.com.
Space is limited. Early registration is recommended.
Join the live online event: “Reasons to Explore Smoke-Free
Housing,” which will be held Thursday, September 10th, 2009 from 2:00
to 3:30 PM (Eastern). This session brings together national experts and practitioners
for a dialogue around implementing smoke-free policies for multi-unit buildings.
Read the full
event description or register
An upcoming teleconference titled, “A Tale of Three
Neurotoxins: Lead, Tobacco and Maternal Depression” will be held Tuesday
September 15, 2009 from 2-3pm Eastern. Michael Weitzman MD Professor of Pediatrics
and Psychiatry New York University School of Medicine will be presenting reviews
what is known, and what we recognize that we still do not know, about the effects
of low level lead exposure, prenatal tobacco and postnatal secondhand smoke
exposure, and maternal depression on child behavior and development. For more
information on the teleconference series or AAIDD's Environmental Health Initiative,
contact: Laura Abulafia at Laura@aaidd.org
or visit the website at www.ehinitiative.org.
To join the teleconference, dial direct at (404) 920-6440 or toll free at (800)
868-1837, and use the pass code: 847815#.
The symposium entitled “Promoting Environmental and
Policy Change to Support Healthy Aging,” will be held September 15-16,
2009, in Chapel Hill, NC. This symposium is a third in a series funded by CDC's
Healthy Aging Program. More
information on this symposium can be found on the conference webpage.
Attend the Healthy Homes Conference presented by the Idaho
Healthy Homes Network on September 15-17, 2009 in Boise, ID. The Idaho Healthy
Homes Conference will address the connection between health and housing and
how to take a comprehensive approach to identify and resolve problems. Featured
topics will include new federal regulations requiring control of lead-based
paint hazards during renovation, repair, and painting; public and private program
funding for health and housing programs as well as collaboration between health,
housing, and environmental professionals to develop state and local healthy
Attendance also counts toward the Healthy Homes Specialist Credential, which
recognizes health and housing professionals who demonstrated knowledge and abilities
in the area of healthy homes. See pages 13 and 14 of this Agenda
for a list of Continuing Education Credits and Credentialing offered. Register
for the conference online at www.hud.gov/idaho.
A Registration Fee of $12/day will be collected by the event caterer - The Parkside
Café. For additional information email Jerry.Royster@hud.gov.
The 19th International Radon Symposium will be held in
St. Louis, MO from September 20-23. The Symposium is sponsored by the American
Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists (AARST). The Symposium is
held in conjunction with the Conference of Radiation Control Protection Directors'
National Radon Training Meeting. “The WHO Handbook on Indoor Radon: A
Public Health Perspective” will be one of a number of presentations that
will be presented at the Symposium. Visit the AARST website for more
The Northwest Children’s Environmental Health Forum
will be held October 1-2, 2009 in Tukwila, Washington. You are invited to attend
this two-day event that will bring together policy makers, professionals, K-12
educators, academic researchers, individuals and others to showcase new research,
current science and effective programs. The Forum is Organized by the Children’s
Environmental Health Working group of the Collaborative on Health and the Environment
– Northwest (CHE-NW). For more
information, visit the CHE-NW website.
The National Mid-Year Conference on Eliminating Childhood
Lead Poisoning, Implementing Healthy Homes Programs and Combating Indoor Environmental
Hazards will be held October 15-16, 2009, in Philadelphia, PA. The conference
brings together professionals from health, housing, community development, community
groups, advocacy organizations, the lead industry, real estate firms, and residential
and commercial facilities to explore the ways to undertake programs and projects
designed to prevent incidents of lead poisoning and eliminate indoor environmental
The 2009 National Environmental Public Health Conference:
Healthy People in a Healthy Environment seeks to promote the nation’s
environmental health capacity by enhancing the expertise of environmental health
professionals - including public health and healthcare professionals, academic
researchers, representatives from communities and organizations, as well as
advocacy and business groups with a primary interest in environmental public
health. The conference
will be held October 25-28 in Atlanta, GA.
The American Public Health Association will be holding
its Annual Meeting, November 7-11, 2009 in Philadelphia, PA. The theme this
year is “Water and Public Health: the 21st Century Challenge.” The
conference will explore the latest public health challenges and learn about
what can be done to protect our resources, our health and our world.
For more information
or to register, visit the APHA website.