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Tell the EPA to strengthen its draft lead strategy

Supporters Spoke up in this Action
Delivery to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan

Action Ended On

January 20, 2022

What Happens Next

Thank you to all who took action! We're grateful for your support.

What was at Stake

Lead exposure, particularly during childhood, can result in devastating health impacts. Even in tiny amounts, children exposed to lead can suffer permanent, irreparable consequences, including learning disabilities, hyperactivity, and impaired hearing. Lead exposure is also linked to serious illness in adults, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. The Environmental Protection Agency recognizes how dangerous lead poisoning is to children and communities – yet why does the EPA refuse to commit to change its regulations for lead paint hazards (which includes lead in paint, soil, and dust) and lead in water to make them truly health protective?

The Environmental Protection Agency recently unveiled a draft lead strategy that the agency says will strengthen public health protections and address legacy lead contaminations for the most exposed communities. Lead poisoning disproportionately affects communities of color, with Black non-Hispanic children having the highest concentration of lead in their blood. But the plan falls short on specifics beyond describing the serious lead problem that communities face.

We must tackle the contamination that can be found in our homes and schools from lead hazards such as peeling paint, contaminated dust, toxic soil, and contaminated water resulting from legacy uses of lead. As many as 22 million people in the United States drink water that passed through lead pipes. In many places, lead leaches into the water as it did in Flint, Michigan. And there are about 3.6 million residences nationwide where young children live with lead hazards such as peeling paint, contaminated dust, or toxic soil. 

Now we need your help to urge the EPA to enact strengthened standards and take a holistic approach to protect children and communities from lead exposure.

The EPA treats lead as primarily a ‘legacy’ concern, but lead is still emitted at alarming levels from steel mills, incinerators, battery recyclers, and other industrial sources. There is no safe level of lead exposure and yet lead is still being actively released into the environment around us.

We must urge the EPA to do what is right and overdue: take a holistic approach to protect children and communities from lead exposure.

A child paints handprints on the wall.
Dedi Grigoroiu / Shutterstock

Due to the widespread industrial uses of lead in gasoline, paint, and metal products for decades in the United States, lead is in our water, soil, dust, and the air we breathe.

Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

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You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue. Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn more about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.