WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that 16 areas across the country are not meeting the agency’s national air quality standards for lead. These areas, located in 11 states, were designated as “nonattainment” because their 2007 to 2009 air quality monitoring data showed that they did not meet the agency’s health-based standards. Exposure to lead may impair a child’s IQ, learning capabilities and behavior.
Areas designated today as not meeting the standard will need to develop and implement plans to reduce pollution to meet the lead standards. Nonattainment areas must meet the standards by Dec. 31, 2015. No areas in Indian Country are being designated as nonattainment.
EPA will designate areas as meeting or not meeting the standards in two rounds. In the first round announced today, EPA is designating areas that do not meet the standards based on air quality monitoring data from the existing lead monitoring network. In October 2011, EPA will use data from new monitors to complete a second round of designations that will classify the remaining areas in attainment, unclassifiable or nonattainment.
In October 2008, EPA strengthened the nation’s air quality standards for lead tenfold to 0.15 micrograms of lead per cubic meter of air. The agency also finalized requirements for new monitors to be located near large sources of lead emissions. EPA has data from existing monitors indicating violations of the standards, and is currently collecting data from new monitors that began operation in January 2010.
National average concentrations of lead in the air have dropped almost 92 percent nationwide since 1980, largely the result of the agency’s phase-out of lead in gasoline. Lead in the air comes from a variety of sources, including smelters, iron and steel foundries and general aviation gasoline.
Issued November 16, 2010, and for More information on the designations: http://www.epa.gov/leaddesignations
Contact: Enesta Jones email@example.com 202-564-7873
Final Rule in Federal Register on 11/22/2010: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/2010-29405.htm