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Air Quality Program

Lead (Pb)

Lead is a widely-used metal, which may 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 motor function and reflexes. It affects learning. Children are affected more than adults.

Lead National and State Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)

In 1978, EPA set a primary and secondary NAAQS for lead (Pb) at a level of 1.5 micrograms lead per cubic meter of air (µg/m3), averaged over a calendar quarter. The standard was reviewed in the 1980s. Based on this review, EPA decided not to revise the 1978 standard. In a parallel effort, EPA developed the broad, multi-program and multimedia U.S. Strategy for Reducing Lead Exposure.

In 2004, EPA initiated a review of the air quality criteria for Pb. Based on its review, EPA significantly strengthened the standard in 2009. Both primary and secondary standards are identical and set to the level of 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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