Thursday, August 24, 2006

Get the Lead Out! Lead Paint Poisoning

In June, 2003, Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly led negotiations between 49 state AGs and a national paint manufacturers' association. The agreement was to shield the paint manufacturers from law suits against them on behalf of consumers injured by lead paint chips or powder. The agreement also let the manufacturers avoid regulation by state governments on the matter.

An article in the Boston Globe today, linked above, describes the agreement as toothless.

A pact between the paint industry and state prosecutors aimed at fighting lead poisoning is often ignored at the retail level, according to spot checks by the Globe of a dozen Boston-area paint stores.

Spearheaded by Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly , the voluntary agreement signed in 2003 is widely trumpeted by paint makers and state regulators across the country as a major step in reducing the number of children poisoned after inhaling lead dust or ingesting lead paint chips. At the time, Reilly heralded it as giving ``real protection to families and consumers from the risks associated with home renovation projects," and his office and his gubernatorial campaign offer it as proof that he aggressively promotes lead cleanup and lead poisoning prevention.

But advocates working to prevent childhood lead poisoning say that the agreement lacks teeth and that it has done little to promote safe lead paint removal. ``The paint companies have not complied with this voluntary agreement," said Sandra J. Roseberry, vice president of the Maine-based American Lead Poisoning Help Association. ``The agreement was really a public relations attempt to ward off any litigation against them by the states, and it's really smoke and mirrors."

The contract between the National Paint and Coatings Association, a trade group, and 49 state attorneys general says that paint makers will put lead paint warning labels on paint cans, provide free nationwide training in safely removing lead paint, and offer discounts on paint cleanup equipment, such as respirators and vacuum filters. A spokesman for the group can point to numbers showing that all three initiatives are underway.

However, checks of local paint retailers found that another key provision of the agreement -- that educational brochures be available at stores -- is often breached, and that training in safe lead paint removal offered to maintenance workers, painting contractors, and homeowners, and others often doesn't reach the retail counter.

(from the Globe article by Sacha Pfeiffer)

Researchers looking for the full text of the agreement will be hard pressed to find a copy on the Internet. Finally, found it under the website of the National Paint and Coatings Association link. Their other web pages link, include texts of the warning in English and Spanish, and news releases on lead-related matters.

You can write to NY AG Elliott Spitzer's office for 4 reports on lead for consumers to be mailed . All filed under "Health." You can read Reilly's own press release about the agreement, here, which lacks any copy of the agreement. How annoying! The Connecticut AG's website has the most information here, with fairly extensive quotes from the agreement.

NSC LeadLink
Excellent non-profit link site.

Lead Paint Poisoning Law Firm Link
Philadelphia firm Monheit, Silverman & Fodera has a good list of symptoms and advice for those who think they may have a child with lead poisoning.

National Association of Remodelers LeadSafe
Includes some helpful full text links to federal statutes and regulations on lead paint safety.

National Association of Certified Home Inspectors link
A helpful list of symptoms and advice, with lists of home inspectors, naturally.

Lead Paint Poisoning info Online Lawyer Source
Includes some helpful info, but disappointingly light on citations or lists of suits.

Center for Disease Control (CDC LinkP
A very helpful government website with loads of consumer information, and links to legislation and policy documents.

EPA Link
Excellent government link site with information, FAQs, citations to regulations and links to other sites.

HUD Link
Another very good government website representing the Housing and Urban Development's Lead Hazard Control division. Both English and Spanish.

National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) Link
Features 2 handy databases of lead (and other hazardous materials) legislation and contacts by state. Also helpful PDF and HTML publications.

Massachusetts Pathfinder for researching legislation on lead in the Bay State here. Excellent list of statutes and regulations from the Mass Trial Courts Libraries. Includes federal, selected cases and journal articles. Current to July, 2006. Great work, people!

And the Rhode Island Attorney General's office, evidently the state that opted out of the Reilly agreement, has sued lead paint manufacturers on behalf of RI consumers AG link. See an article about the suit here, from Findlaw, which may not load, and here, from RI Future blog.

And more recently, a scandal as the newer AG, Patrick Lynch, agreed to a settlement with Dupont dropping them out of the suit in exchange for a payment, which seems to have mostly gone to a charity with links to Dupont itself. TV news, Insurance Journal article, and Boston Globe.

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