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Rhode Island court recently ordered Sherwin Williams and a couple other paint companies to abate problematic lead paint in the State. Lead based paint has been outlawed since 1978 and was legal before that date. What do you think of placing liability (estimated cost 3 billion) on a company/s for something that was legal over 28 years ago?

Paul Burrell

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Scott, you are not mistaken. The lead paint issue is frought with legend and myths. Hundreds of local jurisdictions had banned it in particular situations. I suspect a careful reading of the Rhode Island issue would lead one to a better understanding? Product liability is a very complex issue in all states and is basically a state issue.

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I don't think there's any question that something which was once "legal" can still be the subject of lawsuits, etc. Just think about DDT, asbestoes, and a host of others that have already gone that way. I would think a lot of the question would boil down to the old "What did they know, and when did they know it?" issue. If they knew it was bad and ran with it anyway that's one thing; if they didn't know until everyone else did that's another (IMHO).

And speaking of myths, if I'm not mistaken lead was never totally outlawed in house paint by the EPA. I believe 1/2 of 1% is still allowed today (compared with 6 - 7% back in the day).

Brian G.

Lead Head [:-paperba

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Inasmuch as European industrialized countries like Germany banned lead & lead paint in (approx.) 1878, it's mildly curious why it took our country an ENTIRE CENTURY to figure out it was bad & to ban it.

IOW, lottsa folks knew it was horrible stuff a long time ago, including the paint mfg's. It remained "legal" for a lot of "reasons" that could probably be traced to elected officials bank accounts.

So, these old line mfg's. are being brought on the carpet for stuff they got away w/ "legally" for a hundred years.

I'm not a jurist, so I have no opinion on whether or not any of this is fair or just; it's just how it works. I wouldn't count any money just yet; it will be a few decades before any money finds it's way to cleanup efforts, if ever.

And, if anyone thinks things are better now, consider that the City of Chicago only prohibited pure lead water service pipes in 1989-1990. The single supplier for lead water service pipes in this region just happened to give large sums of money to Daley the 1st and the plumbers union, and was able to keep lead water service in the building code long after the rest of the world banned it entirely.

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"I don't think there's any question that something which was once "legal" can still be the subject of lawsuits, etc."

Dosen't have to be illegal, look at the tobacco settlements.

I always advise my clients if the house is pre 1976 not to eat the paint.

Fritz K.

Ate too much lead paint as a kid

[:-yuck

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Originally posted by Les

Since my post above, the St Louis post is running a story that a judge has ruled the S/W and others are not responsible. More to follow. In my opinion this ain't going anywhere fast.

The article I read said the Judge held them responsible for clean up and not responsible for punitive damages since they had not made lead paint since it was banned in 1978.

Now as for who pays cost to remedy this lawsuit.

We get three guesses.

1-The manufacturer.

2-The government.

3-The consuming public.

The first two guesses do not count.

Paul Burrell

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As a survivor of a week's HUD funded Lead-based Paint Inspector and Risk Assessor training (attendance at which I gladly was able to charge an hourly for), I learned that the most effective action any person anywhere can take to avoid poisoning by lead based paint is to wash your hands!

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Yeah, I did that training back in (about)'89. Nightmarish week sitting in class listening to HUD drones.

I remember the part about washing one's hands. Honestly, after living in a lead paint house (my current home) for 15 years, my assessment is that reasonable, simple, and prudent precautions suffice just fine for protecting my daughter & my family. It's really not hard to manage; the EPA stuff is well intended, but simply not realistic. And, it's not always accurate; there are reputable studies showing that the greater risks are actually outside the home, not inside.

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