The Environmental Protection Agency has finalized the first major update to the agency’s Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) in nearly 30 years.
The update strengthens every aspect of the LCR and accelerates actions that reduce lead in drinking water to better protect children from lead exposure, according to an EPA news release. “For the first time in nearly 30 years, this action incorporates best practices and strengthens every aspect of the rule, including closing loopholes, accelerating the real world pace of lead service line replacement, and ensuring that lead pipes will be replaced in their entirety,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
“The U.S. has made tremendous progress in lowering children’s blood lead levels by phasing lead out of gasoline, banning lead paint, and implementing the old LCR,” the news release says. “However, the old rule included deficiencies that are fixed by EPA’s new Lead and Copper Rule. For example, the old rule created so many loopholes that only 1% of utilities actually replaced lead pipes as a result of an action level exceedance.”
In older homes and buildings, lead can leach from service lines, solder, and fixtures into tap water and become a significant source of lead exposure. In children, lead exposure can cause irreversible and life-long health effects, including decreasing IQ, focus, and academic achievement.