Spurred by the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, Congress is focusing attention on lead hazard control with the “Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act of 2016” introduced in the House and Senate on March 3. The bill addresses federally-assisted housing built before 1978. Specifically, it would require HUD to revise the threshold for requiring a housing risk assessment when a child under six-years-old is found to have an elevated blood lead level (BLL). A comprehensive risk assessment of a housing property would be required to be completed prior to a child moving in.
Referencing epidemiologic studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the bill’s action level for a risk assessment will be 5 ug/dl or lower. HUD’s current standard doesn’t require a housing risk assessment until a child is found to have a BLL of 20 ug/dl. CDC has stated that there is no safe level of lead exposure and identified serious health effects at what had previously been considered to be low levels of lead exposure.
In addition, the legislation would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to update the hazard standards for “lead contaminated dust” and “lead contaminated soil.” Changes in hazard definitions will translate into revisions in HUD requirements for dust clearance levels on federally-assisted properties.
Under current law, a covered property that has not been tested and found to be
free of lead-based paint must disclose its presence and complete a visual
assessment to determine whether there are hazards - such as peeling or chipping
paint - and take steps to eliminate them. A risk assessment is required to be
conducted by a third-party, certified risk assessor.
It is likely that HUD and EPA will act within their own authority to update existing regulations. That’s whether or not Congress is able to pass any stand-alone lead-based paint legislation or if they will include specific provisions as part of the FY 2017 federal budget for specific agencies.
NMHC/NAA will continue to provide our members with the latest information on this legislation and federal regulations that address the presence of lead-based paint.
- Real Estate Coalition Amicus Brief in Support of EPA Lead Hazard Level Definition
- GAO Releases Report on Lead Testing for Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program Properties
- EPA Directed to Re-Open Rulemaking for Lead Hazard Level Definitions
- EPA Tightens Lead Dust Limits for Pre-1978 Residential Properties and Child Occupied Facilities
- New Federal Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposure