As part of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) efforts to reduce childhood lead exposure, the EPA made significant changes to dust-lead clearance levels (DLCL), by reducing the DLCL from 40 micrograms per square foot (μg/ft2) to 10 μg/ft2 for floors, and from 250 μg/ft2 to 100 μg/ft2 for window sills. Dust lead clearance sampling, a risk assessment tool, evaluates lead content in dust on horizontal surfaces, and conditions exceeding the clearance level reflect a lead hazard. EPA DLCL changes are in line with the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) lowering the blood lead “level of concern” (now known as “reference value”) for children 1 to 5 years-of-age from 10 micrograms per deciliter (μg/dL) to the current value of 5 μg/dL. These reductions in lead hazard thresholds further increase employer and facility operator liability exposure to lead contamination claims.

California’s Department of Public Health (CDPH) conducts comprehensive elevated blood lead level (BLL) investigations, assessing the compromised individual’s entire household, which includes inspection and sampling of potential lead exposure sources, such as those associated with:

  • Home
  • Workplace
  • School/Daycare
  • Child Play Areas

Dust-lead levels are evaluated against, and must be below, the applicable clearance levels, therefore, it is imperative employers and facility operators vigilantly maintain an environment free of lead hazards. Below are a few tips to maintain an environment free of lead hazards:

  • Awareness - Inform employees, vendors and contractors of potential sources of lead to avoid accidental disturbance or exposure.
  • Update repair, renovation and remediation specifications to reflect a dust-lead clearance level below 10 μg/ft2 for floors, and 100 μg/ft2 for window sills.
  • When potentially disturbing lead, utilize state of the art work practices and engineering controls to minimize disturbance and capture lead dust.

PRISM will continue to monitor regulation changes pertaining to lead hazards, including Cal/OSH’s ongoing effort to update the Lead in Construction Standard (Title 8, §1532.1. Lead). For questions about this blog or PRISM’s monitoring of lead regulations, please contact PRISM Risk Control.