Lead in Soil: Is Your Backyard Safer than a Hazardous Waste Site?
18 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2000
Date Written: June 2000
The environmental protection agency (EPA) mandates cleanup of lead-contaminated soil at hazardous waste sites even if concentrations of lead are many times lower than allowed by residential lead hazard standards. Thus, at sites without children, the Superfund program requires more protective cleanup than the federal government requires or recommends for backyards. Yet, children are much more likely to be exposed to lead in their own homes than at hazardous waste sites.
We recommend policies to regulate lead that would both reduce costs and improve children's health. These include setting less stringent standards for lead in soil at sites regulated under Superfund and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and allowing parties responsible for cleaning up hazardous waste sites to substitute clean up of lead dust in nearby residences. Implementing these recommendations may require Congressional action, because EPA already has the discretion to pursue a more cost-effective and environmentally sound policy but has not done so.
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