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U.S. EPA Lowers Air Quality Standard for Lead to a Level 10 Times Lower Than the Current Standard

Posted: October 11th, 2008

Author: All4 Staff 

On October 16, 2008, U.S. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson announced that U.S. EPA is revising the primary and secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for lead.  U.S. EPA is setting both the primary (health-based) and secondary (welfare-based) standard at 0.15 µg/m3, measured as total suspended particles (TSP).  The previous standards, set in 1978, were 1.5 µg/m3.  In addition, U.S. EPA has changed the calculation method for the averaging time used to determine whether an area meets the new standards from calendar quarters to a rolling three-month average.  A three-year period, without any of the rolling three-month averages above the new standards, will be required to demonstrate compliance.  U.S. EPA’s action to lower the air quality standards for lead will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. 

The new lead NAAQS rule also redesigns the nation’s lead monitoring network by requiring states and local agencies to, at a minimum, place monitors near sources that emit one ton or more of lead per year and in each urban area with a population greater than 500,000.  About half of the newly required lead monitors are to be operational by January 1, 2010, with the other half to be operational by January 1, 2011.

States are required to submit recommendations for area attainment designations by October 2009.  U.S. EPA will make final attainment designations no later than January 2012.  Where sufficient data is available from the existing monitoring network, U.S. EPA intends to complete initial designations as soon as possible.  By June 2013, states must submit their State Implementation Plans (SIPs) describing how they will meet the new lead standards.  Attainment of the new lead standards must be achieved no later than January 2017. 


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