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Letter to Stephen Johnson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Re: Increase Protection Against Exposure to Lead Air Pollution

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Letter to Stephen Johnson, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Re: Increase Protection Against Exposure to Lead Air Pollution

Clinton Urges EPA to Increase Protection Against Exposure to Lead Air Pollution

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton today called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take additional measures to limit Americans' exposure to lead air pollution. In a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, Senator Clinton urged the agency to limit lead levels in the air to no more than 0.20 micrograms per cubic meter as part of the new rule to improve the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for lead—the level recommended by both the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) and the EPA scientific staff. Senator Clinton also called for increased NAAQS surveillance and monitoring.

"There is no safe level of lead exposure, and we must ensure that lead air pollution levels are kept under control, especially in urban areas and locations in the vicinity of lead sources. Before the EPA implements its new rule on lead air pollution, I urge agency officials to heed expert recommendations and impose limits that will protect as many Americans as possible," said Senator Clinton.

Senator Clinton has worked aggressively to implement protections against the hazards of lead poisoning. Last year she introduced a bill to improve government response to lead poisoning and legislation to offer a tax credit for homeowners seeking to remove household lead hazards. Additionally, Senator Clinton testified at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on the impact of lead poisoning on American children.

The text of Senator Clinton's letter is below.

May 7, 2008

The Honorable Stephen L. Johnson
Administrator
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Ariel Rios Building - 1101A
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20460

Dear Administrator Johnson:

Last week, your agency released a proposed rule to improve the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Lead. While I am pleased to see that the proposed rule would lower the allowable levels of lead air pollution, I would urge you to ensure that the final rule protects as many Americans as possible from unsafe levels of exposure to this metal.

First of all, I would urge you to carefully consider the recommendations of both the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) and your agency's scientific staff and limit the standard to a level below 0.20 micrograms per cubic meter. The proposal from your agency would set the final standard at a level between 0.10 to 0.30 micrograms per cubic meter. Given that there is no safe level of lead exposure, and that the 0.10-0.20 micrograms per cubic meter is the level commonly found in most U.S. cities, it is imperative that we be able to have a standard that will allow us to detect levels that indicate measures outside the norm of what is occurring in urban areas. Doing so would protect the residents in those areas.

I also believe that we need to expand the lead NAAQS surveillance network. As the proposed rule notes, the surveillance network for lead has dramatically decreased, from about 900 sites in 1980 to 200 currently. It is imperative that we ensure that our monitoring networks allow us to determine the impact not only of stationary sources of lead emissions, but also the ambient lead apparent in many of our urban areas. In my state of New York, there are multiple sites that emit more than 200 kilograms of lead per year; it is in the best interests of the public health of the employees and residents who work and live around these sites to establish monitors around as many of them as possible.

In addition, I believe that your agency should reconsider the proposal to station one nonsource-oriented monitor in areas with a population greater than that of one million. In certain high-density areas, like the New York City Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), a single nonsource-oriented monitor could hardly capture the range of exposures found throughout the area, let alone the potential exposures in vulnerable environmental justice communities. Furthermore, the arbitrary establishment of a population threshold of one million would exclude many significant urban areas - such as Albany and Syracuse - that would also benefit from monitoring.

I look forward to working with your agency as it seeks to implement a significantly improved NAAQS for lead, and I hope that during this comment period, you will work with stakeholders and impacted communities to ensure that this rule protects the public health as much as possible.

Sincerely,

Hillary Rodham Clinton


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