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Air Quality Program

Lead (Pb)

Lead is a widely-used metal, which can accumulate in the body. Common sources include:

  • Leaded gasoline
  • Smelting
  • Battery manufacturing and recycling

Health Effects

It damages the central nervous system, kidneys, and brain. It affects learning, motor function, and reflexes. Children are affected more than adults.

National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Lead

In 1978, EPA set a primary and secondary standard for lead at 1.5 micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m3), averaged over a calendar quarter. Based on a review in the 1980s, EPA decided not to revise the 1978 standard. In a parallel effort, EPA developed the national strategy for reducing lead exposure.

EPA significantly strengthened the lead standard in 2009. Both primary and secondary standards are identical at 0.15 µg/m3, which is 1/10 of the previous standard.

Technical Table

Pollutant Averaging Time Level Remarks Measurement Method Interpretation Method
Lead Rolling 3-month average 0.15 µg/m3 Not to be exceeded 40 C.F.R. Part 50, Appendix G 40 C.F.R. Part 50, Appendix R

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