Lead and Copper Rule Revised: New US EPA Legislation

Lead and Copper Rule Revised: New US EPA Legislation

Lead exposure can occur when in contact with various medias, including soil, dust, food, and drinking water. Through a series of policies, the United States has made progress in reducing both overall lead exposure and childhood blood lead levels within the last several decades. Although the Lead Copper Rule (LCR) has led to substantial decreases in lead in drinking water, there has been a push to further strengthen public health and clarify requirements.

On December 22, 2020, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its first major update to the Lead and Copper Rule in about 30 years. The new LCR will better protect children at schools and daycares by eliminating lead from drinking water.

Here’s the change:

The current LCR action level and trigger level: 90th percentile (P90) level above lead AL of 15 µg/L or copper AL of 1.3 mg/L requires additional actions.

The revised LCR action level and trigger level: 90th percentile (P90) level above lead AL of 15 µg/L or copper AL of 1.3 mg/L requires more actions than the previous rule. Defines lead trigger level (TL) of 10 < P90 ≤15 µg/L, which will enforce additional planning, monitoring, and treatment requirements.

Click here to see the entire reference guide for public water systems lead and copper rule comparison.

Improvements under the new lead and copper rule include1:

  • Using science-based testing to better locate elevated levels of lead in drinking water.
  • Establishing a trigger level to jumpstart mitigation earlier and in more communities.
  • Driving more and complete lead service line replacements.
  • For the first time, requiring testing in elementary schools and childcare facilities.
  • Requiring water systems to identify and make public the locations of lead service lines.

Here’s why the new lead and copper rule matters:

Children spend a lot of time in their schools and care facilities, and lead in internal plumbing can pose a significant health risk to them. Lead exposure in children can cause irreversible and life-long health effects, including decreasing IQ, focus, and academic achievement. EPA’s new LCR better protects children from the risks of lead exposure by requiring testing drinking water at elementary schools and childcare facilities.

The new rule will also focus on getting the lead out of our nation’s drinking water and empowering communities through information.

What’s going to happen as a result of the new lead and copper rule:

The new rule will trigger actions to address lead concerns sooner and reduce lead exposure, by managing corrosion control treatment effectively, closing loopholes, and replacing more lead service lines.

The EPA’s new LCR requires water systems to remove more lead service lines than the previous rule. The EPA has published infographics demonstrating how the new rule compels actions sooner, removes lines faster, and requires actions that better identify lead sources.

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Steps to take to deal with it:

Lead service lines need to be identified for individuals, communities, water systems, and local governments to effectively reduce lead in drinking water. Knowing what resources are available to help address lead in drinking water can help as well. Here are some steps you can take to protect your family/minimize lead exposure: https://www.epa.gov/lead/protect-your-family-sources-lead#main-content

The EPA announced that it is extending the effective date of the Revised LCR to seek further public input. The EPA will be hosting virtual engagements beginning April 2021. The goal of these events is to get public input on EPA’s revision to the Lead and Copper rule (LCRR) from individuals and communities that are at higher risk of exposure to lead in drinking water.


If you want to get involved, now is your chance! Give input during EPA’s virtual engagements. This is your time to look through the revisions, share comments, and make a change in your community!

If you are an administrator, begin to find a vendor to get your school or childcare facility tested.

AirQuest is a lead-safe certified firm and can help you with your testing needs.