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Think Lead Paint Is A Relic Of The Past? Think Again: Big-Name Companies Are Still Profiting From Sales

06/8/2007
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We’ve become accustomed to Big Tobacco upping the nicotine content in cigarettes and continuing to deceive the public. But now, Big Paint?

Ohio’s Attorney General, Marc Dann, has sued 10 chemical and paint companies, accusing them of continuing to make and market lead paint – even though the U.S. government banned lead paint nearly 30 years ago.

Among the companies named in the lawsuit are household names Sherwin-Williams, DuPont, and – interestingly, given the current contaminated peanut butter scare – Conagra Grocery Products, Inc.

Well-documented research leading up to the 1978 ban shows that lead paint can be toxic, especially to young children, causing severe neurological damage and learning disabilities. The first warnings came in the late 1940s from a Baltimore study of the dangers of children chewing on lead-painted cribs, windowsills and playpens. Since the 1970s, government agencies, health officials, and consumer advocates have waged aggressive media campaigns to educate the public.

But Dann says that the paint companies have ignored these warnings.

In 1999, when Rhode Island sued paint manufacturers, a jury found Sherwin-Williams, NL Industries and Millennium Holdings liable for creating a public nuisance. Cleanup costs were predicted to reach billions of dollars, and the verdict is still under appeal to the state Supreme Court. The Ohio suit was filed under the state’s public nuisance law, as well, to ensure the state’s right to seek damages.

But then, Big Paint doesn’t seem to care about public nuisance laws, or other consumer protection measures. Their response? Just paint right over them.

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