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Lead

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What is it?
Lead is a metal found naturally in the environment as well as in manufactured products. 

Where does it come from?
Historically, the major source of lead has been from leaded gasoline in motor vehicles and industries.  Currently, the major contributor of this pollutant are metal processing plants, since the phase out of leaded gasoline.  The highest levels of lead in air are generally found near lead smelters.

How is it harmful?
The members of our population that have the greatest effects of high levels of lead are children.  Although overall blood lead levels have decreased since 1976, infants and young children still have the highest blood lead levels. Children and others can be exposed to lead not only through the air, but also through accidentally or intentionally eating soil or paint chips, as well as food or water contaminated with lead. Some potential human health effects include:

  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Brain and nerve damage
  • Osteoporosis
  • Reproductive disorders
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Anemia

What's being done to help?
In 1975, unleaded gasoline was introduced for motor vehicles equipped with catalytic converters and in December 1995 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the use of leaded gasoline in highway vehicles.

The EPA currently has a quarterly standard for lead set at 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3).  These standards are subject to change as updated scientific information is obtained on the effects of this pollutant on human health.

Regional Matters:
All ten counties in the region of North Central Texas currently fall within the quarterly concentration limits set by the EPA.  TCEQ adopted the State Implementation Plan Revision: Collin County Redesignation Request and Maintenance Plan for the 2008 Lead National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) on October 19, 2016.  On June 29, 2017 the EPA issued a Direct FInal Rule:  Approving the Redesignation of Collin County to Attainment for Lead, effective September 27, 2017. There are five monitors within the region that measure concentrations of lead in the air.


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