Legal Alerts

New EPA Standards for Lead in Paint, Dust and Soil

On June 21, 2019, the EPA announced new, tighter standards for lead contained in dust on floors and window sills so as to protect children from the harmful effects of lead exposure. The strengthened standards become effective 180 days after publication in the Federal Register. These revised standards will reduce the amount of lead in dust that is considered a hazard. Preventative measures may be called for.

Lead hazard standards have helped property owners, lead paint professionals, and government agencies identify potential lead hazards in residential paint, dust and soil. These standards apply in most pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities.

Under the existing standards, adopted in 2001, the amount of lead in dust is considered hazardous when equal to or exceeding: 

  • 40 micrograms per square foot on floors,
  • 250 micrograms per square foot on interior window sills, and
  • 400 parts per million in bare soil in children's play areas or 1200 parts per million on average for bare soil in the rest of the yard.
  • In addition, paint in a deteriorating condition, on a “friction” or “impact” surface, or on certain “chewable” surfaces is also defined as a hazard.1

 When the final rule of 2019 becomes effective, these standards will be lowered from the 40 micrograms of lead in dust per square foot and the 250 micrograms of lead in dust per square foot to 10 micrograms and 100 micrograms on floors and window sills, respectively. These more stringent dust lead hazard standards will also apply to inspections, risk assessments, and abatement activities in pre-1978 housing as well as certain schools, child-care facilities and hospitals across the country.

These standards are incorporated into Section 402/404 lead-based paint activity regulations. In addition, lead-based paint hazard standards trigger specific reporting obligations under Section 1018, real estate disclosure regulations. Please refer to those regulations for compliance requirements regarding these hazard standards.

The Toxic Tort team at Smith Duggan can help protect you from potential legal liability. The firm’s lawyers can analyze risk and help you take measures to reduce the likelihood of a lawsuit.  The team can help you avoid being held liable for asbestos, mold, indoor air quality, or other potential hazards, including lead poisoning.

If you have any questions, please contact David M. Governo at or Vincent N. DePalo at  

The EPA news release can be seen here.    A copy of the final rule strengthening the dust-lead hazard standards is available here

1. A friction surface is  an interior or exterior surface that is subject to abrasion or friction and includes certain window, floor, and stair surfaces. An impact surface means an interior or exterior surface that is subject to damage by repeated sudden force such as certain parts of door frames. A chewable surface means an interior or exterior surface painted with lead-based paint that a young child can mouth or chew.

July 1, 2019

Disclaimer: © 2019 This information is not intended as legal advice. Readers should consult a qualified attorney before acting on any of the information contained in this document. This information is provided for informational purposes only and may be considered advertising under the rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.