HUD proposes new lead-based paint rule to protect kids
“Because lead-based paint is the most important source of lead exposure for young children, the first essential element of primary prevention is implementation of strategies to control lead paint-contaminated house dust and soil and poorly maintained lead paint in housing.” — Preventing Lead Poisoning in Young Children, Centers for Disease Control, August 2005
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently announced a new proposed rule that would lower the threshold for responding to elevated blood lead levels in children under 6 years old living in HUD-assisted housing. Currently, HUD requires intervention for lead-based paint when testing finds children living in target housing with a one-time blood lead level of 20 micrograms per deciliter of lead (μg/dL) or 15-19 μg/dL in two tests taken at least three months apart. HUD’s proposed standard will be CDC’s current “reference range value” of 5 μg/dL, which the CDC may revise every four years.
Lead was used in paints prior to 1978, because it made painted surfaces washable and more durable. The Toxic Substances and Control Act (TSCA) banned the use of lead in paint, beginning in 1978 because of health concerns associated with exposure to lead. HUD adopted the Lead Safe Housing Rule (LSHR), which established requirements with respect to lead-based paint hazards in HUD-assisted projects.
As noted in the quote from the CDC report above, children are especially susceptible to lead-based paint in the form of paint, paint dust, soils contaminated with lead paint and dust from lead paint and this type of exposure represents the greatest lead-based risk to children.
HUD assisted housing represents 4.3 million housing units, 450,000 of which are of pre-1978 construction that have children living in them. HUD has determined that HUD-assisted housing presents a lower risk to lead-based paint poisoning than unassisted low- and middle-income homes. Private homes and certain work done in them are covered by different regulations.
HUD’s regulations require efforts to reduce lead-based paint, which may include evaluations of risks and control measures, including renovation, lead paint maintenance and reevaluations. In addition to prevention efforts, if a child under 6 is found to have an “elevated blood lead level” (EBLL), i.e., in excess of 5 μg/dL, the rule would require a set of specific actions:
- Environmental investigation of child’s unit and common areas must be completed within 15 days of being notified of the child’s condition;
- If lead-based paint is identified, then “interim control measures” must be undertaken to control the lead-based paint hazards within 30 days; and
- Determine if units housing other children have lead-based paint hazards and, if so, institute interim control measures or paint stabilization.
By: Saulius Mikalonis
(9/6/16 Update: The published Federal Register notice can be found here. Comments are due by October 31, 2016.)
Tomorrow, HUD will publish its lead-based paint proposed rule titled “Requirements for Notification, Evaluation and Reduction of Lead-Based Paint Hazards in Federally Owned Residential Property and Housing Receiving Federal Assistance; Response to Elevated Blood Lead Levels” in the Federal Register. While NAHRO is still in the process of doing a deeper dive into the proposed rule, here are some of the core requirements being proposed.
- Program Scope – The proposed rule will apply to the following 5 sets of programs:
- Project-Based Assistance Provided by non-HUD Federal Agencies;
- Project-Based Assistance;
- HUD-owned and Mortgagee-in-Possession Multifamily Property;
- Public Housing Programs; and
- Tenant-Based Rental Assistance.
- Effective Date – HUD is considering an effective date of 6 months after publication of the final rule, but is also looking at time periods of either 1 year or 1 month.
- Elevated Blood Lead Level – The rule proposes to revise the Lead Safe Housing Rule (LSHR) to adopt the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) approach to establishing a blood lead level for which the CDC recommends environmental intervention. Currently, CDC guidance defines Elevated Blood Lead Level (EBLL) in children under age 6 to be “based on the blood lead level equaled or exceeded by 2.5 percent of U.S. children aged 1 – 5 years.” The current reference range level is 5 or more micrograms per deciliter of lead in the blood. As the CDC is “tying the reference value to the national distribution of blood lead levels, the reference level will continue to decrease whenever progress is made on reducing childhood lead exposure.”
- Inspection, Evaluation, and Control Activities – Depending on the program, lead-based paint inspections, inspections for deteriorated paint, and risk assessments including dust-wipe sampling and soil sampling may be required.
- Abatement Measures – Public Housing must perform abatement measures to eliminate lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards during comprehensive modernization.
- Interim controls and Paint Stabilization – Depending on the program, additional interim controls (measures designed to reduce temporarily human exposure or likely exposure to lead-based paint hazards) or paint stabilization (repairing physical defects and applying a new coating of paint) may be required.
- Response to Young Children with Elevated Blood Levels –
If a child under 6 has an elevated blood lead level, the owner or other
entity must follow a designated protocol (same for all programs, except
non-HUD project-based assistance, for which it is narrower) including:
- Conducting an environmental investigation;
- Conducting interim control – measures designed to reduce temporarily human exposure or likely exposure to lead-based paint hazards;
- Controlling other housing-related sources of lead exposure; and
- Encouraging occupants to address other non-housing related lead exposure sources.
- Other units – If the unit where the child resides is in a building or development with other assisted dwelling units covered by the rule, the owner or other entity must provide documentation to the HUD field office that the owner or other entity has complied with the evaluation requirements. If there is no documentation of compliance with the evaluation requirements, the owner or other entity must conduct a risk assessment and conduct interim controls or conduct a visual assessment and paint stabilization–depending on the program.
- Comments – HUD has 4 questions for comment each with subparts.
The pre-publication proposed rule can be found here.
HUD’s Press Release on the rule can be found here.