EPA Inspector General Faults Agency for Ineffective Action on Lead-Based Paint Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General released a report faulting the agency for “not having an effective strategy to implement and enforce the lead-based paint rule.” The Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule is critical to protect children living in homes that have lead paint from the 18 million renovation projects that EPA estimates to be occurring each year. There is no safe level of lead exposure: lead impairs children’s normal brain development – contributing to learning and behavioral problems and lowers IQs. 

“Based on the failures and shortcomings described by the Inspector General, it appears that the Trump Administration’s Lead Action Plan was primarily a public relations tool rather than a document to focus and prioritize the agency’s efforts to reduce children’s exposure to lead from these renovation projects,” said Tom Neltner, Chemicals Policy Director at Environmental Defense Fund. “As we reported earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saw an increase in young children’s blood lead levels most in need of protection of the RRP rule in 2015 to 2016, the most recent data publicly available. The administration appears to be ignoring this disturbing trend, and this report should serve as a wake-up call.”

The report focused on the management failures to fulfill its RRP compliance and enforcement commitments the agency made for 2016-2017 in its National Program Management Guidances. These documents are important tools to prioritize resources and measure progress. 

The Inspector General also highlighted the current administration’s failure to even mention lead as a priority in the 2018-2019 Guidances. And while the 2020-2021 Guidances state that reducing lead exposure is a “high priority,” the documents give little substance or measures of progress. 

“If the Trump Administration truly wants to prioritize reducing lead exposure – as it has repeatedly touted – then making meaningful improvements to ensure compliance with this critical rule should be a priority. Without changing course, the progress we’ve made on reducing lead exposure will falter – and children will pay the price,” said Neltner.

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