Sunday, November 19, 2006
LANCASTER, Ohio - The city has become the latest in Ohio to sue Sherwin-Williams Co. and other paint manufacturers, trying to force them to clean up lead-based paint because of the risk of lead poisoning in children.
City Council voted unanimously to seek to have Cleveland-based Sherwin-Williams and the other seven defendants identify and get rid of lead in all buildings in Lancaster, about 30 miles southeast of Columbus.
...The paint makers already are being sued by Toledo, East Cleveland and Akron.
...Earlier this year, a Rhode Island jury found Sherwin-Williams, NL Industries Inc. and Millennium Holdings LLC liable for creating a public nuisance by manufacturing and selling a toxic product.
Akron has sensibly dropped its suit. That last link includes more information about the anti-paint company lawsuits:
Last February, a Rhode Island jury recommended a cleanup that could cost Sherwin-Williams and two other paint companies more than $3.5 billion. The state of Rhode Island filed its landmark case in 1999. The first trial ended in 2002 with a hung jury.
Similar suits are pending in six states: Wisconsin, New Jersey, California, New York, Texas and Missouri.
$3.5 billion is a lot of money. And that's just the small state of Rhode Island. The Federal government banned the use of lead paint in 1978, but it was in 1955 that the paint companies stopped selling it, or at least significantly decreased the amounts of lead they used.
According to this article, there was a concerted tobacco-like effort to ignore or minimize the dangers of lead, but that cover-up was by the lead industry, not the paint industry:
In 1939, the National Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association (NPVLA), a trade group representing pigment and paint manufacturers, among others, privately acknowledged its "responsibility to the public and the protection of the industry itself with respect to the use of toxic materials in the industry's products". In a letter marked "CONFIDENTIAL Not for Publication," the association informed its members that "the vital factor concerning toxic materials is to intelligently safeguard the public." The letter said that manufacturers should apply "every precautionary measure in manufacturing, in selling and in use where toxic materials are likely to or do enter a product" and noted that "children's toys, equipment, furniture, etc. are not the only consideration". It warned NPVLA members that toxic materials "may enter the body through the lungs ... through the skin, or through the mouth or stomach." The letter specifically pointed out that lead compounds such as white lead, red lead, litharge, and lead chromate, may be considered as toxic if they find their way into the stomach.
The NPVLA reproduced for its members a set of legal principles established by the Manufacturing Chemists' Association regarding the labeling of dangerous products. The first principle was "A manufacturer who puts out a dangerous article or substance without accompanying it with a warning as to its dangerous properties is ordinarily liable for any damage which results from such failure to warn." Even when a product was widely understood to be dangerous, the Manufacturing Chemists' Association suggested that warnings be included. Further, the legal principles stated "The manufacturer must know the qualities of his product and cannot escape liability on the ground that he did not know it to be dangerous." The NPVLA letter concluded by calling on NPVLA members to make a "sincere effort in taking advantage of every possible precaution in the use of toxic materials.
That article has many ads for lead-based paint, all of them by Dutch Boy. So why isn't Dutch Boy being sued?
posted by sydney on 11/19/2006 09:03:00 AM 2 comments
Dutchboy paints is a division of the Sherwin Williams company. Many of the older small paint companies have been bought up over the years by larger ones like SW.
By 5:04 PM, at