This story was originally published in Remodeling.

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a status report update on its federal action plan to reduce childhood lead exposure. The status report describes EPA activities being conducted in support of the Trump administration's Lead Action Plan. The agency said it is continuing to work with federal partners to improve coordinated activities and implement the objectives of the action plan.

The agency unveiled its Federal Lead Action Plan to Reduced Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts in December 2018 in partnership with the departments of Housing and Urban Development and Health and Human Services. At the time, EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler said the plan would enhance efforts to identify and reduce lead contamination while ensuring children impacted by lead exposure receive the necessary support.

The four stated goals of the Lead Action Plan are to reduce children's exposure to lead sources, to identify lead-exposed children and improve their health outcomes, to communicate more effectively with stakeholders, and to support and conduct critical research to inform efforts to reduce lead exposures and related health risks.

In its status report update, the EPA highlighted initiatives and actions being conducted to address the four goals of the Lead Action Plan. The agency highlighted several efforts around lead-based paint that aim to reduce children's exposure to lead sources. "Reducing exposure to lead paint in old housing continues to offer the potential to significantly decrease blood lead levels in the largest number of children," the EPA said in its status report.

To address childhood exposures to lead-contaminated dust, the EPA proposed strengthening the dust-lead hazard standards for floors and window sills in June 2018. The recommendations proposed would tighten floor standards to 10 from 40 micrograms per square foot and window-sill standards to 100 from 250 micrograms per square foot. The agency said lead dust can be a major source of lead exposure in children and it aims to issue a final rule on dust-lead hazard standards for floor and window sills by the summer.

The EPA highlighted continuing efforts to implement regulations requiring individuals and firms conducting lead-based paint abatement, risk assessment, or inspection to be trained and certified. The agency awarded 17 grants nationwide in 2018 under the Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Program to train and certify individuals for jobs in the environmental field, including lead abatement. The agency said 108 students would be trained and certified in lead abatement by 2020.

Additionally, the EPA highlighted efforts to increase the number of certified renovation firms capable of providing lead-safe renovation and repair and painting services. The agency said it routinely works with individuals and firms to ensure certification under the Lead, Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule and teach lead-safe work practices. The EPA recently completed planning for a lean pilot project in six cities to increase the number of RRP certified firms and trained contractors.

RRP requires that when remodelers are working in houses built before 1978 on projects that could disturb lead paint, they must determine whether any lead paint is present and—if they do find presence of the paint or didn't do a test—must then use certain practices to contain the spread of the lead-paint dust while they perform the remodel. The company doing the work and the renovators following lead-safe work practices both must be certified by EPA-approved training programs.

The status report also highlighted ongoing initiatives to reduce exposure to lead from drinking water, to reduce exposure to lead in soil, and to reduce exposure to lead associated with emissions to ambient air.

“The status report delivers on our promise to hold ourselves accountable to the public and clearly communicate the steps we are taking to implement the Lead Action Plan,” EPA Administrator Wheeler in a public statement. “Tracking the actions outlined in the Lead Action Plan will ensure we stay true to our commitments and take the necessary measures to protect children from lead exposure where they live, learn, and play.”

This story was originally published in Remodeling.