HUD Proposes Changes to Lead-Based Paint Regulations
HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes recently proposed amendments to lower the definition of “elevated blood lead levels” in young children to match the revised definition of “elevated blood lead levels” established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). HUD’s proposed new reference level for lead in a young child’s blood would be lowered from 20 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (µg/dL) to 5, and continue to be aligned with CDC recommendations in the future.
Lead-based paint was banned for residential use in 1978. Out of about 4.3 million HUD-assisted housing units (public housing, project-based rental assistance, and tenant-based rental assistance) HUD estimates that 450,000 units were built before 1978 and have children under the age of 6 living in them. Of those units, HUD estimates 57,000 units have lead-based paint hazards.
Until 2012, children were identified by the CDC as having a blood lead “level of concern” if testing found 10 μg/dL or more. In 2012, the CDC revised its guidance in response to scientific studies showing that even low blood lead levels can cause lifelong health effects. The CDC stopped using the term blood lead “level of concern” and instead began using the term “reference range value” to identify children who have been exposed to lead and who require case management. The CDC’s current reference range level is 5 μg/dL. With this lower value more children are likely to be identified as having lead exposure, allowing parents, doctors, public health officials, and communities to take action earlier to reduce the child’s future exposure.
In addition, HUD’s proposed rule would revise the type of hazard control undertaken when lead-based paint or other hazards are identified. For housing projects with more than one unit, if a lead-based paint hazard is identified in one unit, the proposed rule sets out procedures for addressing other units in which children under the age of 6 live.
HUD also proposes that when a child under age 6 is living in assisted housing reported to have an elevated blood lead level, the owner or PHA must complete an environmental investigation of the child’s unit and common areas servicing the unit confirmed to have lead-based paint hazards within 15 calendar days of being notified by a public health department or other medical care professional.
In general, when an affected unit has been found to have lead-based paint hazards and a child under age 6 lives in one or more other assisted units in the building or project, HUD proposes certain actions be undertaken, based on the type of assistance. Specifically, the owner would be required to:
- Conduct a risk assessment of those other units in public housing and project-based rental assistance multifamily properties receiving $5,000 or more per unit per year in HUD assistance, and
- Conduct a visual assessment for deteriorated paint in those other units in project-based rental assistance properties receiving under $5,000 per unit per year in HUD assistance and in tenant-based rental assistance units.
This proposed rule will be open for public comment until Oct. 31, 2016. Comments may be submitted electronically at www.regulations.gov, or by mail to the Regulations Divisions, Office of General Counsel, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7thStreet SW, Room 10276, Washington, DC 20410.