Lead paint became a prominent manufacturing material as early as 6000 years ago. It is abundant and easily formed into any shapes. Lead was used in paint to increase durability and shine among other things. It was not until the early 1900s that scientific researched proved the negative health effects of lead on humans and animals. It affects the central nervous system, and affects it more so on children. Early exposure to lead can ruin the future of a child’s health and well-being.
The Consumer Production Safety Commission of the U.S. passed a law in 1978 banning the use of paint with more than 0.06% lead content or 600 ppm from residential use. A lead based paint is considered by the U.S. government to be any paint that is 0.5% lead by weight. Starting in 1996 owners of homes built prior to 1978 are required to inform buyers of all known information on the presence of lead based paint by the Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Regulation. The Department of Housing and Urban Development developed two procedures for testing for lead in paint in 1997. One procedure tests all paint types throughout a complex, whereas the second procedure tests only areas where the paint is beginning to chip or deteriorate in any way. This is because lead poisoning can only occur from paint if it is released into the air or by ingestion of the paint itself. A new set of regulations was passed in 2008 regarding renovation projects of homes, schools, and childcare facilities built before 1978. It will require contractors to work according to certain regulations that prevent lead poisoning. It will be effective in 2010.
Since 1978, lead based paint has been banned in the United States. However, this does not eliminate the problem. Though American companies produce no lead based paint, or products using it, dangers still loom. The problem remains because of foreign and past misuses. Companies of the United States can illegally import products made with lead based paints. The Target Company did this in 2009. However, the greater problem is from the past. The lead based paints of older homes continue to age. These homes need renovation, and renovation poses the risk of lead exposure.
Lead paint cases against paint manufacturers are wholly unsuccessful. Of all lead paint cases filed throughout 17 states against the manufacturers, only one has been decided against the manufacturers themselves. This case took place in Rhode Island in 2005, and has been appealed by the paint companies since then. The final decision has yet to be reached. Most recently in 2007, a 17 year old of Wisconsin lost his case against paint manufacturers. The decision is because it is the responsibility of landlords to take care of any lead paint problems, not the actual paint company. In 2009, Target reached a settlement in the civil case against them for importing toys with lead paint. They agreed to pay $600,000, but claim they were unaware the paint was lead based.