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Washington, DC — Two state attorney generals are publicly objecting to the
decision by Acting Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Stephen
Johnson to abandon proposed rules protecting urban children and residential construction
workers from the hazards of lead-based paint, according to letters released today
by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In an unannounced
move last year, Johnson, who has been nominated by President Bush to become EPA
Administrator, scrapped long-stalled requirements that certified contractors using
workers trained in lead-safe practices do all remodeling in buildings constructed
before 1978.

In an April 7, 2005 letter, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer stated,
“EPA’s failure to issue lead-safe renovation regulations is a breach
of the public trust and presents a significant and avoidable threat to tenants
and homeowners throughout the nation.” Spitzer noted that New York has
the nation’s highest number and percentage of older homes and its children
have unhealthful levels of lead in their blood at twice the national average,
with some areas exhibiting childhood “lead poisoning rates as high as

The principal source of lead dust exposure to U.S. children is renovation and
repair of older residences, which have a much higher prevalence of lead-based
paint. Federal studies indicate that the vast majority of an estimated 20 to
30 million older-home repair projects each year are done without lead-safe cleanup
and contamination practices. Consequently, these renovations kick up significant
amounts of lead dust that permeates carpets, ductwork and soil, creating both
short and long-term exposure to residents.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan wrote in an April 5, 2005 letter, “Each
year Illinois reports the highest number of lead poisoned children in the nation.”
She called upon Johnson to make a “personal commitment to ensure that
EPA undertakes” the long overdue renovation safeguards and warned, “Unless
EPA’s leadership is restored, the 2010 goal of protecting all children
from lead poisoning will remain beyond reach.”

Under the Toxic Substances Control Act, the deadline for EPA to adopt regulations
governing “renovation or remodeling activities” was October 28,
1996. Although behind schedule, EPA continued to develop regulations through
2003. In 2004, Johnson, disregarding his own legal counsel’s advice, completely
dropped plans for renovation regulations in favor of a yet to be developed voluntary

“Lead will be a litmus test for whether Stephen Johnson will be a decent
EPA Administrator,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch whose organization
last month disclosed internal agency documents outlining Johnson’s role
in the behind-closed-doors decision. “If EPA continues to shirk its legal
and public health obligations, the agency will be forced by litigation to do
what they should have done in 1996.”


the letter from New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer

the letter from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan

more about the importance of the abandoned lead-safe regulations

Phone: 202-265-7337

962 Wayne Avenue, Suite 610
Silver Spring, MD 20910-4453

Copyright 2001–2024 Public Employees for
Environmental Responsibility

PEER is a 501(c)(3) organization
EIN: 93-1102740