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Air Pollution from Lead

General information on lead, and the TCEQ planning activities addressing the lead standard.

What is lead?

Lead (Pb) is an elemental heavy metal found naturally in the environment as well as in manufactured products. Lead can be released directly into the air, as suspended particles.

Historic major sources of lead air emissions were motor vehicles and industrial sources. Motor-vehicle emissions have been reduced by the phasing out of leaded gasoline, but lead is still used in general-aviation gasoline for piston-engine aircraft. Lead that is emitted into the air can be inhaled or can be ingested, primarily through contact with contaminated soils or other surfaces.

  • Primary stationary sources of lead today include:
    • lead smelters
    • waste incinerators
    • utilities
    • lead-acid battery manufacturers and recyclers
  • Other industrial sources of lead emissions can include:
    • metals processing
    • iron and steel foundries
    • copper smelters
    • industrial, commercial, and institutional boilers
    • glass manufacturers
    • cement manufacturers

Humans may be exposed to lead from air pollution directly, through inhalation, or through the incidental ingestion of lead that has settled out from the air onto soil or dust. Ingestion of lead settled onto surfaces is the main route of human exposure to lead originally released into the air.

Once taken into the body, lead distributes throughout the body in the blood and accumulates in the bones. Depending on the level of exposure, lead can adversely affect the nervous system, kidney function, immune system, reproductive and developmental systems, and the cardiovascular system. Lead exposure also affects the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.

The lead effects most commonly encountered in current populations are neurological effects in children and cardiovascular effects (e.g., high blood pressure and heart disease) in adults. Infants and young children are especially sensitive to even low levels of lead, which may contribute to behavioral problems, learning deficits, and lowered IQ.

Lead is persistent in the environment and accumulates in soils and sediments through deposition from air sources, direct discharge of waste streams to water bodies, mining, and erosion. Ecosystems near point sources of lead demonstrate a wide range of adverse effects, including losses in biodiversity, changes in community composition, decreased growth and reproductive rates in plants and animals, and neurological effects in vertebrates.

Latest air quality planning that addresses the lead standard

Last updated: 4/27/2016

Compliance with the 2008 Lead NAAQS

Compliance with the lead standard is based on 36 three-month rolling averages. For an ambient air monitoring site to meet this standard, no three-month rolling average for the previous 36 months prior to the attainment date may exceed 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter. Between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2015, the Collin County nonattainment area did not have a three-month rolling average above the lead NAAQS at any of the TCEQ’s ambient lead monitors. Therefore, the area achieved compliance of the 2008 lead NAAQS as of December 31, 2015.

However, the Collin County area is still designated nonattainment. The TCEQ is developing a request to the EPA that the Collin County lead nonattainment area be redesignated to attainment based on 36 months of monitoring data below the federal standard. For more information, please see the Dallas-Fort Worth: Lead - Latest Planning Activities Web page.

Collin County Attainment Demonstration for the 2008 Lead National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) and Agreed Order

On August 8, 2012, the commission adopted the Collin County Attainment Demonstration SIP Revision for the 2008 Lead NAAQS and the Agreed Order between Exide and the TCEQ. The SIP revision contains a reasonably available control measure and a reasonably available control technology analysis, demonstration of attainment through air dispersion modeling, a control strategy demonstration, an emissions inventory, a demonstration of reasonable further progress, and contingency measures. The Agreed Order makes the control strategies and contingency measures included in the Collin County Attainment Demonstration SIP Revision legally enforceable. The SIP revision, Agreed Order, and all supporting documents are posted on the Dallas-Fort Worth: Lead Latest Planning Activities Web page.

The City of Frisco and Exide approved an agreement that would result in the sale of approximately 180 acres of undeveloped land surrounding Exide's plant. Effective November 1, 2012, Exide began curtailing operations and all recycling ceased on November 30, 2012. The facility is now permanently shut down.

Lead Infrastructure State Implementation Plan (SIP) Revision for the 2008 Lead National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS)

On October 5, 2011, the commission adopted the Lead Infrastructure SIP Revision for the 2008 lead NAAQS (Project No. 2011-016-SIP-NR). The adopted SIP revision meets the infrastructure requirements of the Federal Clean Air Act (FCAA), §110(a)(1) and (2) under the 2008 lead NAAQS. This revision documents how each infrastructure element is currently addressed in the Texas SIP by outlining the requirements in FCAA, §110(a)(2)(A) through (M) and the Texas statutes and rules that allow Texas to meet each requirement. This revision fulfills Texas’ obligation to submit an infrastructure SIP revision for the 2008 lead NAAQS as required by §110(a)(1) and (2) of the FCAA.

Lead Transport SIP Revision for the 2008 Lead NAAQS

On August 17, 2011, the commission adopted the Lead Transport SIP Revision for the 2008 lead NAAQS. This SIP revision will meet the requirements of the FCAA, §110(a)(2)(D)(i), relating to the interstate transport of lead under the 2008 lead NAAQS.

Proposed Collin County Attainment Demonstration SIP Revision for the 2008 Lead NAAQS and Associated Agreed Order

On June 22, 2011, the commission approved proposal of the Collin County Attainment Demonstration SIP Revision for the 2008 Lead NAAQS (Project No. 2011-001-SIP-NR) and the associated Agreed Order between the TCEQ and Exide Technologies (Project No. 2011-024-MIS-NR) .

The public comment period for the proposed SIP revision and Agreed Order opened on June 24, 2011, and closed on August 8, 2011. The public hearing on this proposal was held in Frisco, Texas, on July 28, 2011, at 6:00 p.m., at the George A. Purefoy Municipal Center, 6101 Frisco Square Boulevard, City Council Chambers.

For additional information and complete SIP packages, including appendices, please visit the Dallas-Fort Worth: Lead Latest Planning Activities Web page.

EPA Designates Part of Collin County as a Lead Nonattainment Area

In the November 22, 2010 Federal Register, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the determination that an area in Collin County, Texas surrounding Exide Technologies battery recycling plant was not meeting the NAAQS for lead. In October 2008, the EPA lowered the standard tenfold from its 1978 level of 1.5 micrograms per cubic meter to 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter.

Texas’ lead attainment demonstration SIP will be due to the EPA on June 30, 2012, and Collin County must attain the new lead standard before the December 31, 2015 attainment date.

For more information, visit EPA's Air Quality Designations for Lead Web page. Exit the TCEQ

2008 Lead National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS)

On October 15, 2008, the EPA strengthened the NAAQS for lead. The 2008 NAAQS final rule, and guidance for determining nonattainment area boundaries, went into effect on January 12, 2009. The 2008 standard revises the 1978 standard, lowering it tenfold—from 1.5 µg/m3, measured as a quarterly average, to 0.15 µg/m3 measured as a rolling three-month average. The revised standards will improve health protection for groups at risk, particularly children.

For more information on the 2008 Lead NAAQS, please visit EPA's Lead Regulatory Actions Web page. Exit the TCEQ

2008 Lead NAAQS Designations

On October 14, 2009, Texas Governor Rick Perry notified the EPA of the state's attainment designation and boundary recommendation for the 2008 lead NAAQS.

On June 14, 2010 the EPA sent a letter notifying the state that the EPA intends to designate the portion of Collin County recommended by Texas as nonattainment for the 2008 NAAQS for lead.

On August 17, 2010, the TCEQ submitted a comment to the EPA in support of the designation boundary and correcting references to certain monitoring data. The EPA's final designations are expected October 15, 2010.

On October 13, 2010, the governor submitted a revised boundary recommendation to the EPA. The revised recommendation takes in to account a permit alteration that reduces the permitted allowable emission rate contained in Exide Technologies’ air permit no. 1147A. This revised recommendation uses the same methodology as the original recommendation, but incorporates reduced permit limits in the dispersion modeling, thereby reducing the size of the nonattainment area.

October 14, 2009, Designation and Boundary Recommendation for the 2008 Lead NAAQS

On October 14, 2009, the TCEQ submitted to the EPA a recommendation concerning designations under the EPA's 2008 Lead NAAQS.

Recommendation Package:

Related Web pages and publications

Get more information on the Texas SIP and contact the TCEQ

TCEQ SIP Contacts

Lead monitoring data and calculated design values for the Collin County lead nonattainment area