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EPA Issues New Standard For Lead

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today issued new air quality standard for lead that is expected to have a major impact in Missouri, in the heart of the nation’s lead belt.

The new standard is 10 times more tougher than the old standard for lead, a toxic metal which known to impair neurological development in children.

The new standard of 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter of air represents the first time the agency has revised airborne levels of lead since 1978, when the metal was phased out of gasoline. According to experts it is a good standard and EPA has got to enforce it.

The EPA was under a court order to revise the standard as a result of successful 2004 lawsuit.


Jefferson County in Missouri, is home to the nation’s last primary lead smelter, and was one of two places in the nation that did not meet the old standard. The other one in East Helena, Montana, which was the source of the lead problem closed in 2001.

The new lead rules do not require states to come into compliance until 2017.

Additionally to revising the standard, EPA announced it will require air monitors to be placed near industrial facilities that emit 1 ton or more of lead a year and in urban areas of more than 500,000 people.

In Missouri, there are seven facilities emitting more than 1 ton per year, according to 2005 emissions data compiled by EPA.

Medical Analysis: Lead is a highly toxic metal and is responsible for causing brain retardation and neurological damage particularly in children.

The trouble with smelters is that they release the vaporized lead into the atmosphere which then contaminates our rivers and lakes. The fish ingest the metal and it goes up the food chain. Also parks and playgrounds get contaminated and that is where the children pick it up.

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