Companies told to pay $1.1 billion in lead paint cleanup
Lead paint, outlawed nationwide 35 years ago, remains a menace to children's health, and three paint companies must pay the state $1.1 billion to remove it from surfaces in pre-1978 homes in 10 California cities and counties, including San Francisco, Alameda and San Mateo, a judge ruled Monday.
Studies have established that "there is no safe level of exposure to lead for children," said Judge James Kleinberg, who presided over a non-jury trial in Santa Clara County Superior Court. Although government prevention programs have reduced lead exposure, he said, "thousands of children in the (10) jurisdictions are still presently and potentially victimized by this chemical."
Further, he said, the companies' claims that they were unaware of the danger ring hollow -Sherwin-Williams Co. described the paint's ingredient, white lead, as a "deadly cumulative poison" in a 1900 document. Nine years later, the California Supreme Court held ConAgra, another current defendant, responsible for harm to its workers in a lead manufacturing plant.