HUD Proposes Changes to Lead-Based Paint Regulations

HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes proposes to amend the lead-based paint regulations by reducing the blood lead level in a child under the age of six that triggers an environmental intervention if the child lives in federally-owned or federally-assisted housing constructed before 1978. HUD proposes adopting the revised definition of “elevated blood lead levels” established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and establishing more comprehensive testing and evaluation procedures for housing where children live.

HUD’s regulations, referred to as the Lead Safe Housing Rule (LSHR) are at 24 CFR Part 35. The authority for this rule is the “Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992,” which is Title X of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992. Lead-based paint was banned for residential use in 1978. Out of about 4.3 million HUD-assisted housing units (public housing, project-based rental assistance, and tenant-based rental assistance) HUD estimates that 450,000 units were built before 1978 and have children under the age of six living in them. Of those units, HUD estimates 57,000 units have lead-based paint hazards.

Until 2012, children were identified by CDC as having a blood lead “level of concern” if testing found 10 or more micrograms per deciliter of lead in the blood (10 μg/dL). In 2012, CDC revised its guidance in response to scientific studies showing that even low blood lead levels can cause lifelong health effects. CDC stopped using the term blood lead “level of concern” and instead began using the term “reference range value” to identify children who have been exposed to lead and who require case management. CDC’s current reference range level is 5 μg/dL. With this lower value more children will likely be identified as having lead exposure, allowing parents, doctors, public health officials, and communities to take action earlier to reduce the child’s future exposure.

HUD’s current LSHR uses the term “environmental intervention blood lead level” (EIBLL), the blood lead level at which an evaluation for lead-based paint hazards and interim controls of any such hazards are to be conducted. HUD has defined EIBLL as “a confirmed concentration of lead in whole blood equal to or greater than 20 μg/dL for a single test or 15-19 μg/dL in two tests taken at least 3 months apart.”

HUD’s proposed rule would revise the LSHR to adopt CDC’s criteria to establishing a child’s blood lead level that triggers an environmental intervention. While CDC’s trigger is currently the fixed reference range value of 5 μg/dL, HUD’s proposed rule would refer to the elevated blood lead level (EBLL) identified in CDC guidance at any point in time. CDC plans to update the reference range value every four years.

In addition, HUD’s proposed rule would revise the type of hazard control undertaken when lead-based paint or other hazards are identified. For housing projects with more than one unit, if a lead-based paint hazard is identified in one unit, the proposed rule sets out procedures for addressing other units in which children under the age of six live.

HUD proposes that when a child under age six is living in assisted housing reported to have an EBLL, the owner/public housing agency (the “designated party”) must complete an environmental investigation of the child’s unit (the “index unit”) and common areas servicing the index unit within 15 calendar days of being notified by a public health department or other medical care professional.

If the investigation identifies lead-based paint hazards in these areas, the designated party would be required to conduct interim control of the hazards within 30 calendar days, as in the current rule. Interim controls are measures – like repairs, repainting, temporary containment, and specialized cleaning - designed to temporarily reduce human exposure or likely exposure to lead-based paint hazards.

HUD also proposes that, if a unit with a child under age six is reported to have an EBLL and the unit has been confirmed to have lead-based paint hazards (the index unit), then the occupancy and lead management of other units with a child under age six in the building or property subject to the LSHR would be examined to determine whether the designated party must conduct a risk assessment or visual assessment. If so, and if lead-based paint hazards are found in those other units, then interim controls or paint stabilization must be conducted. Paint stabilization involves repairing any physical defect in the painted surface that is causing paint deterioration, removing loose paint, and applying a new protective coating or paint.

In general, when an index unit has been found to have lead-based paint hazards and a child under age six lives in one or more other assisted units in the building or project, HUD proposes certain actions be undertaken, based on the type of assistance. Specifically, the designated party would be required to:

  • Conduct a risk assessment of those other units in public housing and project-based rental assistance multifamily properties receiving $5,000 or more per unit per year in HUD assistance, and  
  • Conduct a visual assessment for deteriorated paint in those other units in project-based rental assistance properties receiving under $5,000 per unit per year in HUD assistance and in tenant-based rental assistance units.

Comments are due October 31, 2016.

HUD’s media release is at:

The proposed rule is at:

More about lead hazard control and healthy homes is on page 5-6 of NLIHC’s 2016 Advocates’ Guide at: