Companies Must Pay to Remove Lead Paint from California Homes
Posted by Jessica Meeder on Dec 19, 2013 in Consumer Alerts
In a major victory for children’s health, a California judge has ordered three companies, ConAgra, NL Industries and Sherwin-Williams, to remove lead-based paint –long known as a toxin affecting brain development and causing lifelong learning and behavior problems – from inside thousands of California homes. The judge said the companies must pay $1.1 billion into a fund to pay for inspections and lead abatement.
Other families that don’t know about the danger or don’t have the resources to address it, aren’t so fortunate. California families just got lucky. Children under age 6 are most at risk of poisoning, because their brains are still developing and are the most susceptible, and because they are most likely to place their hands and other objects in their mouths.
How to Reduce Lead Exposure in Your Home
As the owner of an older home myself, I’ve made sure to follow precautions to avoid exposing my children to lead paint. Follow these tips to reduce your family’s exposure to lead paint:
1) Check the Date
Find out when your house, or grandma’s house, or your daycare facility, was built. If it was built before 1978, assume the paint has lead in it unless tests show otherwise.
2) Ask About Free Programs
You can also ask your local health department about free programs that test paint and dust from your older house for lead. Many offer abatement assistance.
3) Limit Access
Make sure your child does not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint. Until you get the lead paint removed or covered over, close and lock doors to keep young children from access to those areas. Apply temporary fixes such as contact paper or duct tape to cover holes in walls or peeling paint areas.
4) Remove Dust
Regularly wet-wipe window sills and ledges, and damp mop floors to remove lead-paint dust.
5) Use Caution around Children and Pregnant Women
Remember that children and pregnant women should never be present in any area that is undergoing lead removal. They should not participate in activities that disturb old paint or in cleaning up paint debris after work is completed.
6) Wash Children’s Hands and Toys
Children stick anything and everything in their mouths. Wash their hands and toys regularly to remove any lead particles.
The paint companies will likely appeal Judge Kleinberg’s decision. But if it stands, other suits will follow and, hopefully, the number of lead poisoning cases in the country (currently at 442,000 annually) will finally see a dramatic decline.