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Lead Dust as Solid Waste

A New Legal Strategy for Achieving Lead Safety

By Thomas G. Neltner

Traditionally viewed as a law focused on the regulation of hazardous waste from manufacturing operations and the disposal of solid waste, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act is also a strategic tool to protect children from lead dust hazards. The Environmental Protection Agency, in two actions, used this statutory authority to protect children from lead poisoning by solid waste generated from the deteriorated lead-based paint because the lead dust posed a substantial and imminent endangerment to public health. The agency's two enforcement actions set a precedent that tenants, consumers, community-based groups, advocates, and attorneys can use to eliminate lead hazards in residential, commercial, and public buildings.

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