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Enforcing Lead Laws and Regulations

Enforcement ensures that companies and individuals who violate the law are held accountable.  The goal of EPA’s enforcement program is protection of public health. Enforcement also deters those who might otherwise profit from violating the law, and "levels the playing field" for environmentally-compliant companies.

EPA's enforcement program works with the Department of Justice, states, tribal governments and law enforcement agencies to take administrative and judicial actions at both the federal and state level, and to bring violators into compliance with environmental laws.

Through enforcement initiatives, such as reviewing the compliance status for sectors of regulated industries, EPA’s enforcement program can target the most severe violations.  Here are some examples of lead-related enforcement actions:

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Lead in Paint, Dust and Soil

Enforcement of the lead-based paint program is conducted under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). TSCA gives EPA authority to inspect, subpoena documents, require testimony and bring civil administrative actions.

EPA has issued civil administrative enforcement response and penalty policies. The goal of the lead-based paint enforcement response and penalty policies is to provide fair and equitable treatment of the regulated community, predictable enforcement responses, and comparable penalty assessments for comparable violations, with flexibility to allow for individual facts and circumstances of a particular case.

EPA-Authorized State Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Programs

Several states are authorized to administer their own RRP programs that operate in lieu of the EPA regulations. Contractors and training providers working in these states and consumers living there should contact the appropriate state, tribal or territorial program office.  See RRP information in: WisconsinIowaNorth CarolinaMississippiKansas,Rhode IslandUtahOregonMassachusetts, and Alabama. exit EPA

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Lead in Water

Drinking Water

Control of lead in drinking water is handled under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Public water systems must comply with the national primary drinking water regulations. These regulations include health-based standards and monitoring and reporting requirements.

EPA and states enforce the Lead and Copper Rule along with other important drinking water regulations. As part of a broader effort, EPA issued the Drinking Water Enforcement Response Policy (ERP) in December 2009. The ERP is a new approach replacing the contaminant by contaminant compliance strategy with one that is more holistic. The ERP helps focus enforcement attention on public drinking water systems with the most serious or repeated violations, including noncompliance with the Lead and Copper Rule.

Lead is rarely found in source water, but enters drinking water through corrosion of plumbing materials and service lines.

Rivers, Lakes, Streams and Coastal Waters

The Clean Water Act (CWA) focuses on improving the quality of the nation's waters. It provides a comprehensive framework of standards, technical tools and financial assistance to address the many causes of pollution and poor water quality, including municipal and industrial wastewater discharges, polluted runoff from urban and rural areas, and habitat destruction.

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Lead in Air

Enforcement of lead in the air is conducted under the Clean Air Act (CAA) which regulates stationary and mobile sources of air emissions. The act requires major stationary sources, such as manufacturers, processors, refiners, and utilities, to obtain operating permits and install pollution control equipment and to meet specific emissions limitations.

The major sources of lead emissions to the air today are ore and metals processing and leaded aviation gasoline. Other stationary sources are waste incinerators, utilities, and lead-acid battery manufacturers.

Lead Waste

Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), disposal of lead-based paint debris is managed as household waste.

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