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Is the EPA Doing All It Can to Protect Children From Lead Poisoning?

A lawsuit filed by a group of environmental organizations tracking lead’s effects says no.
In this Aug. 23, 2016 photo, a sign from the Environmental Protection Agency is posted in front of West Calumet Housing Complex houses at East Chicago, Ind. The EPA has detected high levels of lead in samples of dust and dirt tracked inside homes where soil is tainted with industrial contaminants. The contamination has resulted in the city calling for the demolition of the low-income complex and relocating its 1,000 residents.
In this Aug. 23, 2016 photo, a sign from the Environmental Protection Agency is posted in front of West Calumet Housing Complex houses at East Chicago, Ind. The EPA has detected high levels of lead in samples of dust and dirt tracked inside homes where soil is tainted with industrial contaminants. The contamination has resulted in the city calling for the demolition of the low-income complex and relocating its 1,000 residents. Tae-Gyun Kim/AP

Ever since the Flint lead crisis captured national attention last year, there has been tremendous pressure on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to upgrade its regulation of toxic lead exposure. It’s a problem that the agency perhaps thought was under control after it ordered a ban on all lead-based paint for homes decades ago.

That’s simply not been the case, however, says a lawsuit filed on August 24 by a coalition of environmental organizations against the EPA over its lead regulations. The lawsuit claims that the EPA hasn’t updated its lead-dust hazard standards, nor modified the definition of lead-based paint to bring it in line with the latest science around public health risks, as the agency pledged to in 2009. When environmental organizations brought their lead concerns to the EPA that year, the agency responded that this would be made a priority, but that it wouldn’t set a specific deadline for finalizing new rules. The groups behind the lawsuit now say the EPA hasn’t made any progress at all.