EPA announced this week that it was granting a petition for reconsideration of the final National Ambient Air Quality Standards for lead, specifically the portion requiring monitoring of lead emissions near certain sources. The petition was brought in January by a number of environmental organizations and groups concerned about childhood lead poisoning.

The existing lead monitoring requirements were finalized in October 2008, at the same time that EPA tightened the national air quality standards for lead for the first time in 30 years. EPA reports that the revised standards are 10 times more stringent than the previous standards and require states to place monitors near sources that emit one or more tons of lead a year. They also require a monitor to be operated in each of the 101 urban areas with populations greater than 500,000 to gather information on the general population’s exposure to lead in air.

As part of the reconsideration, EPA will evaluate whether additional monitoring near industrial sources and in urban areas is warranted. EPA notes in its fact sheet that it is not reconsidering the lead standards, and that implementation of those standards and the existing monitoring requirements will move ahead on schedule. States are required to make recommendations for areas to be designated attainment, nonattainment, or unclassifiable by October 2009.

If EPA decides to revise the lead monitoring requirements later this summer, it would issue a final rule in the spring of next year, following public review and comment.