More Lead Monitors Coming to a Facility or City Near You?

August 5, 2009

In October 2008, EPA tightened its limits on airborne lead emissions for the first time in 30 years — a move that required a significant expansion of EPA's lead monitoring network. Additional lead monitoring stations would have been placed near facilities such as coal power plants, smelters, airports, and foundries that emit about a half ton of lead per year — as well as in 101 urban areas with a population of at least 500,000.

But the Bush Administration, through the OMB, swiftly pressured EPA to water down that monitoring requirement to only require placing new monitors near facilities emitting one ton of lead per year.

Now EPA may get more or all of the monitors it originally wanted. On July 22, EPA announced it will reconsider its requirements for measuring airborne lead:

EPA revisited lead monitoring in response to a January 2009 petition from the MO Coalition for the Environment Foundation, NRDC, the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

  • Petition.
  • Attorneys: Avinash Kar and Selena Kyle, 415-875-6100. Maxine Lipeles, WA Univ. school of law, St. Louis, MO: 314-935-5837.
  • NRDC press: Jessica Lass (310-434-2300) or Liz Heyd, (202-289-2424).

NRDC map of US lead polluters, searchable by state. Most of the larger polluters are clustered in the Northeast and Midwest, but most states have at least some facilities that would require monitoring under this rule.

This move does not change the timeline for states to meet the revised lead standards set in 2008. States must recommend areas to be designated as being in attainment, nonattainment, or unclassifiable by October 2009. These designations will be finalized by January 2012.

EPA expects to issue a public proposal for lead monitoring later this summer, and a final rule in early spring 2010.

  • Lead Industries Association: Jeff Miller, 800-922-5323.