Thursday, December 07, 2006

Don't Chew on your Pencil

From Think Progress:

“The Bush administration is considering doing away with health standards that cut lead from gasoline, widely regarded as one of the nation’s biggest clean-air accomplishments,” the AP reports. “Battery makers, lead smelters, refiners all have lobbied the administration to do away with the Clean Air Act limits.”

It's hard for me to even begin to understand why we would do away with limits on lead in gasoline. Granted most cars these days only run on unleaded gasoline. But the potential damage from lead poisoning is severe.

From the EPA's own website:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 1978 there were 13.5 million children in the United States with elevated blood lead levels (i.e., 10µg/dl). By 2002, that number had dropped to 310,000 kids.

Note that 1979 was the year the EPA standards forced lead out of gasoline.

It is also worthwhile to note that any exposure to lead, even small exposures has an effect on developing children:

Blood lead levels as low as 10 micrograms per deciliter can impair mental and physical development. EPA's Integrated Risk Information System profile on Lead and Lead Compounds The effects of lead exposure on fetuses and young children can be severe. They include delays in physical and mental development, lower IQ levels, shortened attention spans, and increased behavioral problems.

Now normally I'm not one to cry "the Children, the Children." But lead poisoning is a serious issue. And while the likelihood of people using leaded gasoline again seems slim, I have to wonder if this would also allow refiners, battery makers, and all those groups listed above to release more lead particles into the air as part of their manufacturing processes.

Or it could just be that the regulations are poorly formulated and ridiculous. But, we have no idea at this point. And that makes me a little suspicious.

1 comment:

DED said...

Just another example of how certain industries think that they can just get all cozy with this admin and get regulatory changes to make their lives easier. Cleaning up waste metals in industry isn't easy. I worked for a couple years for Novamax Technologies, a metal finishing chemical supplier. Chelating agents (chemicals that bind to metals in solution to make them easier to remove) need time to work. And since time is money....