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EPA: Chicago’s Pilsen Neighborhood Does Not Meet New Air Standard for Lead

Release Date: 06/15/2011
Contact Information: Phillippa Cannon, 312-353-6218,

No. 11-OPA054

Action necessary to improve air quality and protect community health

Chicago, Illinois (June 15, 2011) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today proposed approval of the Illinois EPA’s finding that parts of Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood do not meet the new national air quality standard for lead. The decision is based on data collected from air monitors located in Pilsen. If designated as nonattainment later this year, Illinois will be required to submit a plan to EPA by June 2013 that will result in a reduction in lead emissions to bring this area into compliance with national air quality standards.

In 2008, EPA strengthened the nation’s air quality standard for lead, setting a new limit of 0.15 micrograms of lead per cubic meter. EPA also required that monitors be located near significant sources of lead emissions. Illinois EPA subsequently placed an air monitor in Pilsen near H. Kramer and Co. and added a second monitor in March 2011.

EPA and Illinois EPA recently took enforcement actions aimed at reducing lead emissions from H. Kramer and Co. More information about efforts to reduce air pollution in the Pilsen neighborhood is available at

Last November, Illinois EPA determined that Granite City did not meet the new standard. There is no evidence to indicate that other parts of Illinois have failed to meet the new standard.

A 30-day public comment period will commence when EPA’s decision is formally announced in the Federal Register.

Even at low levels, exposure to lead can impair a child’s IQ, learning capabilities and memory. Although airborne lead levels have dropped dramatically in the United States since the transition to unleaded gas, the latest science indicates the stronger standards are necessary to protect children. More information about new national air quality standards for lead is available on EPA’s website: