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Airborne lead emission or level standards:
This article describes the current and historical limits on airborne lead exposure. Links to Lead Testing Services are also provided. 1.5 mg/M3 - Prior airborne lead exposure limit (ca 1978): 1.5 micrograms of airborne lead per cubic meter of air.
Airborne Lead Emissions in the U.S. - history of permissible levels
0.15 mg/M3 - October 2008: The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new standards setting airborne lead particle exposure limits at 0.15 micrograms of lead per cubic meter of air. -- New York Times. The Times article pointed out that cleanup for areas that exceed this standard is not required for more than eight years and that current airborne lead monitoring systems are "frayed" (133 monitors in operation compared with 800 monitors for airborne lead in 1980). The Times added that advisers recommended an outer limit for exposure of 0.2 mg/L. The origial news release concerning the new EPA Standard for airborne lead was issued by the Associated Press.
"The EPA acted after a lawsuit brought by the Missouri Coalition for the Environment led a federal court in 2004 to order a review of the lead standard." - MSNBC
"EPA estimates that 18 counties in a dozen states across the country will violate the new standard, requiring state and local governments to find ways to further reduce lead emissions from smelters, metal mines and other sources." - USA Today
1.5 mg/M3 - Prior airborne lead exposure limit (ca 1978): 1.5 micrograms of airborne lead per cubic meter of air
Sources of Airborne Lead Contamination
Historically a large source of airborne lead was from burning of leaded gasoline (now prohibited) from vehicles that used (petrol) gasoline containing alkyl lead. - Castellino/Sannolo.
Recycling/waste management industry: smelting processes to recycle automotive batteries according to 10/08 news reports.
Possibly resuspension of soils from along highways according to Young et als. and also Castellino/Sannolo, particularly for lead from automobiles that settled as larger particles within the first 15 feet of highway borders, but significantly, also lead settling as smaller particles within 100 feet of the highway borders. Lead from this source, particularly the second source, may also have entered certain crops later ingested by humans or animals, thus entering the food chain.
Lead-based paint products used on buildings may have been an intermittent source of airborne lead (during renovations and paint stripping) as well as soil contamination by lead (during paint stripping or remodeling).
Note that this list focuses on airborne lead sources, not on all lead sources which may affect humans or animals. See LEAD POISONING HAZARDS GUIDE for more details.
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Questions & answers or comments about airborne lead contamination levels & standards
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Fergusson, Jack E., and Robyn J. Schroeder. "Lead in house dust of Christchurch, New Zealand: sampling, levels and sources." Science of the total environment 46.1 (1985): 61-72.
"Sources, Properties, Fate of Airborne Lead," N. Sannolo, G. Carelli, G. DeLorenzo, N. Castellino, Inorganic Lead Exposure, Metabolism and Intoxication, (Chapter 4), Pietro Castellino, Nicola Sannolo, Souces of Lead Pollution which affects humans. RC-Press; 1 edition (January 22, 1995), ISBN-10: 0873719972
"Resuspension of Soil as a Source of Airborne Lead near Industrial Facilities and Highways ", Thomas M Young et als, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Air Quality Group, Crocker Nuclear Laboratory, University of California, Davis, CA,
Environ. Sci. Technol., 36 (11), 2484 -2490, 2002. 10.1021/es015609u S0013-936X(01)05609-7
"Stationary sources of airborne lead : A comparison of emissions data for southern California", HARRIS Allison R., FIFAREK Brian J., DAVIDSON Cliff I., BLACKMON Rebecca Lankey, Congrès
2005 Conference on Particulate Matter Supersites Program and Related Studies, Atlanta, GA, reviewed in Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association ISSN 1096-2247 CODEN JAWAFC. Discrepancies found among databases of lead contamination sources.
"The voluntary standard established in the United States under ASTM F-963 and the European standard under EN-71 for soluble lead in toys (lead which may migrate from the toy and be ingested by the child) is 90 parts-per-million. At that level, any intentional use of lead in paints or other surface coatings containing lead would immediately put the toy over the permitted limit."
"Under federal law, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) enforces a standard for total lead of 600 ppm. Recently, the CPSC refused to lower the lead limit in paint and other similar surface coating materials to 100 ppm after finding that most paints sold in the United States were already at or below that level and, therefore, these materials did not present an unreasonable risk of injury warranting further government regulation."
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