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Paint companies responsible for removal of lead-based paint

Paint companies responsible for removal of lead-based paint

By Ron Trujillo/ron@calhomenews.com

Lead-based interior paint is a concern for homebuyers and homesellers. But a recent court ruling says paint contractors not homeowners are legally responsible for the removal of interior lead-based paint in residences, according to the California Association of Realtors.

A California court found that paint companies created a public nuisance by promoting lead-based paint, and the companies must pay for removal of the potentially dangerous paint in hundreds of thousands of homes in the state. The cost for remediation could be hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars.

“This case doesn’t change anything for homeowners or prospective home sellers,” says Steve White, president of CAR. “Since 1992, federal law has required sellers, landlords and real estate agents to provide certain disclosures of lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in a transaction for a sale or lease of housing built prior to 1978. Current homeowners and home sellers need not remove or remediate lead-based paint prior to sale but should educate themselves if they choose to do so.”

In People vs. ConAgra, the court ruled in 2013 that lead-based paint found in homes built before 1981 was a public nuisance and ordered ConAgra Grocery Products Co., NL Industries and Sherwin-Williams Co. to pay $1.15 billion for the cost of inspecting more than 3.5 million California homes and apartments built before 1981. The paint companies appealed, and the California Sixth District Court of Appeals upheld most of the ruling in November, affirming the judgment against the paint companies with regard to homes built before 1951. In March, the Supreme Court in California declined to review the Appeals Court ruling.

Lead-based interior paints can cause neurological damage and other serious health issues, especially in children. The U.S. Consumer Products and Safety Commission banned the use of lead-based paint in 1978.

“Paint companies are attempting to qualify an initiative on the November ballot to absolve themselves of liability by shifting the burden of the expensive remediation costs onto the backs of California taxpayers, when taxpayers, in fact, are the victims,” White says. “This is an appalling abuse of the initiative system to try to avoid reparations.”

 

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