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Lead (Pb) -
NAAQS Implementation

Information provided for informational purposes onlyNote: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

Lead is a metal found naturally in the environment as well as in manufactured products.  The major sources of lead emissions have historically been from fuels in on-road motor vehicles (such as cars and trucks) and industrial sources.  Emissions from on-road vehicles decreased 99% between 1970 and 1995 due primarily to the use of unleaded gasoline. Use of leaded gasoline in highway vehicles was prohibited on December 31, 1995. The major sources of lead emissions to the air today are ore and metals processing and piston-engine aircraft operating on leaded aviation gasoline (lead is no longer used in on-road motor vehicle fuel).

The highest levels of lead in air are generally found near lead smelters. Other stationary sources are waste incinerators, utilities, and lead-acid battery manufacturers. Combustion and smelting processes operate at high temperatures and emit submicron particulate matter lead. Material handling and mechanical operations emit larger particles of lead.

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