California cities want paint makers to remove lead from homes

California cities want paint makers to remove lead from homes


Ten California cities have a message for paint companies that sold lead-tainted products to their residents in decades past: “Get that shit out of our houses.”

Local governments filed suit again five paint manufacturers in 2000, and on Monday the trial finally began. Atlantic Richfield, NL Industries, Sherwin-Williams, and two other paint companies are defending themselves against claims that they should have pay to strip poisonous lead plaint out of an estimated 5 million homes, at a cost of about $1 billion. From the San Jose Mercury News:

[T]he industry will fight back hard, arguing that it never deliberately sold a hazardous product and that lead paint is no longer a significant public health threat in California.

But decades after the government banned lead paint because of its health threat to children, the substance remains in many homes built before 1978, particularly in older, low-income neighborhoods where families are considered less likely to be aware of the threat. Lead paint has been linked to a host of maladies in children, from learning disabilities and stunted growth to seizures and even death.

“Lead poisoning has been the longest-running epidemic in American pediatric history, and is a silent, ongoing tragedy,” David Rosner, a Columbia University professor who will be an expert witness for the governments, said in an email exchange.

The paint industry has prevailed in similar lawsuits brought against it in Missouri, Ohio, and Rhode Island, but Californian officials are hopeful about their chances in this case.

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants:

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California cities want paint makers to remove lead from homes

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