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We’re Fighting to Keep Lead Out of Homes, Childcare Facilities, and Drinking Water. Here’s How You Can Help.

Scientific research shows there is no safe level of lead exposure for children, yet millions of families in the U.S. still encounter lead every day through water pipes, paint dust, air and soil. In response to lawsuits by Earthjustice and our partners, the federal government recently strengthened several flawed lead rules to better protect communities. Read on to learn more about these cases and urge the Biden administration to take action.

Why is lead dangerous?

What is Earthjustice doing to protect people from lead in their drinking water?

  • As many as 22 million people in the U.S. drink water that passes through lead pipes . In many places, that lead leaches into the water, as it did in Flint, Michigan.
  • In January 2021, the Trump administration revised the Lead and Copper Rule, which regulates lead in drinking water — but they made it even less protective, dramatically decreasing the rate at which lead pipes must be replaced.
  • Earthjustice took the administration to court over the insufficient rule.
  • In response, last November the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Biden administration announced a stronger new rule, requiring water systems to replace all lead pipelines within 10 years (and faster when feasible).

What is Earthjustice doing to protect people from lead in their homes and childcare facilities?

  • One of the most common causes of lead poisoning in children is the ingestion of lead in dust or soil from deteriorating paint. Lead poisoning currently affects about half a million kids in the U.S.
  • In 2017, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals gave Earthjustice and our partners a major victory when it ruled that the EPA acted illegally by failing to ensure that its lead standards are protective based on the current scientific understanding that there is no safe level of lead. The court ordered the EPA to update its standards.
  • As a result, in 2019, the Trump administration tightened its standard for lead in dust. But that standard still left a large proportion of children at risk of lead poisoning, and the administration failed to update its standard for lead in soil or paint.
  • Earthjustice sued the EPA, and in 2021, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with us, ordering the EPA to revise its Trump-era standard for lead in dust and to update its standards for lead in soil and paint.
  • Over 2023, the Biden administration took multiple positive steps toward strengthening the EPA’s standards for sources of lead poisoning, including exposure via paint and dust, residential soil, and aviation fuel.

How can I help?

The Biden administration is collecting input on the best way to keep communities safe from lead in drinking water. Additionally, the administration is under a court order to reconsider and revise its lead standards for dust, soil and paint.

Workers with East Bay Municipal Utility District install new water pipe on April 22, 2021, in Walnut Creek, California.
Workers with East Bay Municipal Utility District install new water pipe on April 22, 2021, in Walnut Creek, California. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)