11/16/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

EPA Toughens Lead Pollution Limits Despite Industry Lobbying

Federal regulators announced Thursday a sharp reduction in legal levels of lead emissions, rejecting pleas by industrial battery recyclers who told White House officials earlier this month that they could be put out of business by tough new limits.

"Our nation's air is cleaner today than just a generation ago, and last night I built upon this progress by signing the strongest ... air quality standards for lead in our nation's history. These levels reduce allowable levels of lead exposure by ten times," said U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Stephen Johnson. "When my children were young, EPA protected them by phasing out lead in ... gasoline, and thanks to this standard EPA will protect my grandchildren from remaining sources of lead."

The lead regulations had not been updated for 30 years. More than 6,000 studies since 1990 have shown that exposure to even tiny amounts can cause childhood retardation, nerve damage, heart disease, and other serious problems. EPA was under court order to act by midnight Wednesday after being sued by a Missouri environmental group.
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More Lead Pollution? Battery Recyclers Resisting EPA Rules