Court Orders Three Paint Firms to Pay for Lead Cleanup

A ruling by the California Superior Court requires three paint companies, Sherwin Williams, National Lead and ConAgra, to pay $1.15 billion into a fund to remove lead paint from homes in several California counties and cities.

The communities that will receive the funds include the counties of Santa Clara, Alameda, Los Angeles, Monterey, San Mateo, Solano and Ventura, and the cities of Oakland, San Diego and San Francisco. These cities and counties are now developing plans to implement the court’s order for lead paint abatement and remediation.

“Children exposed to lead suffer from neurologic impairments that can affect a child’s learning ability and their future earning potential and productivity,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, Los Angeles County Director of Public Health and Health Officer. “This decision is an overdue payment that will help safeguard the health of our children and protect their future.”

Los Angeles will receive 55 percent of the total amount awarded.

Although lead-based paint was banned in 1978, the paint still remains on the walls of millions of homes in California. In Los Angeles alone, according to that county’s health department, from 2007-2011 there were over 40,000 reported lead poisonings in people under age 21, with the main cause exposure to lead paint.

The court order gives remediation priority to homes with a current or past history of children who suffered from lead poisoning, and homes in low-income neighborhoods.

The California Superior Court decision is the largest public nuisance award in the history of the California and the decision was handed down after 13 years of litigation.

Families concerned that their children are being impacted by lead paint can contact their county or city health departments, which maintain lists of certified lead inspectors.

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