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Westerners weighed in on a draft EPA plan to reduce lead exposure and disparities

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Steve Johnson via Flickr
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CREATIVE COMMONS

Lead exposure comes in many forms — that can include aircraft engines, paint or pipes in peoples’ homes — and ongoing exposures present health risks. Westerners weighed in on a draft plan to reduce lead exposure and disparities.

The Environmental Protection Agency wants to identify lead-exposed communities and reduce exposures as part of its Draft Strategy to Reduce Lead Exposures and Disparities in U.S. Communities.

Elizabeth Heidl from Broomfield, Colorado joined the listening session and is a part of the Save our Skies Alliance, an organization working to reduce lead in aviation fuels, among other things.

She said she wants unleaded fuels to be the norm, like they are in new cars following a ban in 1996. The EPA reported in January that the piston-engine aircraft that uses leaded fuels has the “largest remaining source of lead emissions into the air.”

“If this isn’t included as a key part of the EPA’s strategy to reduce lead, it may take another 26 years to eliminate this source of lead in the atmosphere,” Heidl said.

Some residents focused on the acceptable amount of lead in peoples’ blood. David Hutchins is from Butte, Montana, and he advised the agency to reduce its threshold.

“This does directly expose many overburdened populations to higher concentrations of lead. So for almost 10 years now we’ve been asking for this update without any answers from the EPA, so it’s overdue,” Hutchins said.

Ongoing exposure can lead to serious health outcomes, like heart disease or infertility.

The call was for Region 8, which includes Colorado, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and 28 tribal nations.

An earlier session, which is posted online, was for Region 6, which covers New Mexico, as well as Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

The public comment period ends March 16 and written comments can be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking portal, Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OLEM-2021-0762.