By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday proposed stricter regulations for lead exposure in residential buildings and childcare facilities.

Any amount of lead found in a building will be regarded as hazardous, according to the proposed rule from the EPA that would lower its lead dust hazard level to any level greater than zero.

The rule will, therefore, require disclosures for home buyers, and in certain cases for the paint or source of the lead to be removed.

Although the federal government banned lead-based paint for residential use in 1978, it is estimated that 31 million pre-1978 houses still contain lead-based paint, and 3.8 million of them have one or more children under the age of six living there, creating health and developmental risks for children, the EPA said in a statement.

The proposed rule is estimated to reduce the lead exposures of about 250,000 to 500,000 children under age six per year, the EPA said on Wednesday.

“This proposal to safely remove lead paint along with our other efforts to deliver clean drinking water and replace lead pipes will go a long way toward protecting the health of our next generation of leaders,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe.

Lead exposure can damage the brain and kidneys and interfere with red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of the body. It poses a particular danger to children, whose nervous systems are still developing.

“There is no safe level of lead. Even low levels are detrimental to children’s health, and this proposal would bring us closer to eradicating lead-based paint hazards from homes and child care facilities across the U.S once and for all,” said Michal Freedhoff, assistant administrator for the office of chemical safety and pollution prevention.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by David Gregorio)

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