246913 Past, present and future: A review and synthesis of US EPA lead regulations and children's health

Monday, October 31, 2011

Suril Mehta, MPH , Office of Children's Health Protection, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC
Christine Zachek, MPH , Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Brenda Foos, MEM , Office of Children's Health Protection, US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC
Due to anthropogenic causes, lead is present in our air, water, food, and soil at levels hazardous to children's health. Children are uniquely susceptible to the effects of lead due to certain behavioral patterns and developmental immaturities, and childhood lead exposure can lead to severe and irreversible neuro-developmental effects. Significant health effects seen throughout the 20th century prompted the US government to take regulatory action in order to reduce lead in certain products such as paint, gasoline, ceramics, and water pipes, among others. Since 1970, there has been a drastic reduction in overall childhood blood lead levels nationwide. We synthesized previous US lead-based regulations that have cumulatively benefited children through targeting exposure pathways. A comparative analysis of the regulations and temporal trends in national childhood blood lead levels was conducted to determine the extent to which there is an association between regulation and health effect. All regulatory and national health data was collected by publicly-available means. Results indicate a decreasing trend between regulatory action and reduction in lead levels, with the most drastic reduction during the time period following the enforcement of unleaded gasoline production. But because there is no safe lead level, children are still in danger of detrimental effects. Therefore, we also examined the current state of issues in children's lead exposure and EPA efforts to further reduce this exposure from various pathways. This presentation will synthesize the patchwork of regulations and identify how they work in concert to further children's health, and where gaps may exist. We will address disparities that exist among children in different racial and socioeconomic groups, and present potential future steps to more fully address lead poisoning in the US population.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Describe US EPA regulations designed to prevent childhood exposure to lead in various environmental media. Describe the exposure pathways through which children come into contact with lead. List the health effects of childhood lead exposure. Discuss temporal trends in US childhood blood lead levels. Identify potential future actions to address childhood lead exposure at the federal level.

Keywords: Children's Health, Lead

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the review of the regulations described in the abstract, as well as the analysis of the associated health trends data.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.