Wednesday, July 17, 2013

California Seeks $1 Billion from Paint Industry For Lead Paint Hazards

Lead paint hazards lawsuit in California
Lead Paint
San Jose, CA -- Ten cities and counties in California are suing the powerful paint industry for $1 billion for the hazards that lead paint has caused. California began the lawsuit in 2000 and the trial was postponed several times due to objections from the paint industry, but now appeals courts have allowed the lawsuit to go forward. The trial began this week in San Jose, CA.

The California cities, including San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Oakland among others, are suing the paint industry for knowingly selling harmful products since the 1890s. Lead poisoning has been found to have serious health risks for children, leading to learning disabilities, seizures, and even death.

California officials are suing paint makers for violating the state's public nuisance laws because lead paint has created "a substantial and unreasonable injury" to those living and working in older homes and facilities.

Lead poisoning is still a global problem, and despite the industry arguing that lead poisoning is no longer a significant risk in California, many low-income families live in older homes and still suffer from lead poisoning. Children who were surveyed in areas were found to have high blood lead levels. Homes built before 1978 often contain lead paint, and California is seeking $1 billion from the paint industry in order to remove and clean up the hazard. "It's all about fixing the problem," said Joseph Cotchett, a Burlingame lawyer representing the counties. If California wins the case, there will be increased demand for lead abatement contractors in the participating cities and counties to continue to combat lead hazards in residential properties.

The manufacturers on trial include several companies such as Sherwin-Williams, Atlantic Richfield, and NL Industries. The judge is hearing the case without a jury. Manufacturers are stating that they didn't know the risks of leaded paint and would not knowingly sell a harmful product to consumers. They also argue that removing lead paint will cause harmful lead dust to enter the air and pose health risks to children.

Additionally, they argue that hindsight from the prosecution is unnecessary and that the removal of lead paint from stores and homes should be a public health success story rather than a lawsuit. However, local officials argue that lead paint is still a persistent problem in their communities, with 3.5 million homes in California still at risk.

"We've had a lot of success," Julie Twichell, an official with Alameda County's lead poison prevention program, said to San Jose Mercury News. "But there is still a lot of work to do."

Learn more about lead paint abatement, and how to become a lead abatement contractor by visiting or calling 1-800-355-1751.