Lead Paint Makers Lose Another Round In Long-Running, $1.1 Billion California Lawsuit
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News from a California court isn’t good for Sherwin-Williams and two other companies that formerly made lead paint. A state appeals court has upheld most of a judgment that could cost the three more than $1 billion combined. (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach, File)
In ruling that three paint manufacturers have known since the early 20th Century of the danger the use of lead paint inside homes posed to children, a California appeals court has upheld the bulk of a judge’s reasoning in ordering the paint companies to pay more than $1 billion for their alleged contributions to a “public nuisance” caused by the continued presence of lead paint in old homes.
In its Nov. 14 decision, the three-justice panel of the California Sixth District Appellate Court, however, pared the judgment back a bit, saying the paint companies should only be held responsible for funding the investigation and removal of lead paint from homes in seven of California’s most heavily populated counties and three of its largest cities – which, according to estimates provided in the decision, could amount to nearly 1.6 million homes across the Golden State.
The panel declined to estimate the extent of the cost for which the companies may be on the hook now, however, sending that question back to the Santa Clara County court to decide.
The defendants have pledged to appeal the decision to the California Supreme Court.
The opinion was authored by Justice Nathan M. Mihara, with justices Eugene M. Premo and Frankin D. Elia concurring.
The decision comes as the latest scene in the litigation dating back nearly two decades, when the counties of Alameda, Los Angeles, Montery, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Ventura, and the cities of Oakland, San Diego and San Francisco first filed suit against a number of paint manufacturers that had in the past manufactured and sold lead-based paint.
The municipal governments had argued the paint merchants should be held liable for promoting the use of toxic lead paints inside homes and other residential buildings until lead-based paint was banned in 1978.
“10 Policies to Prevent and Respond to Childhood Lead Exposure,” a report published in August, 2017 by the Health Impact Project (a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts), examines the effectiveness of a variety of existing policies addressing the impacts of lead exposure on children, and calculates a cost-benefit analysis for each of these policies. The study addresses the cost of likely health and educational interventions needed for children affected by lead poisoning, and calculates the savings achieved by reducing childhood lead exposure through the various means studied.
Among the study’s findings are the following:
Contractors who follow lead-safe practices are contributing to these future savings, as well as helping to protect the health of numerous children.
The complete study can be read and downloaded from Pew Charitable Trusts here.
Join the HMS, Inc. team! Do exciting environmental services work for a family-owned business with a strong commitment to employee development.
We are seeking field technicians for asbestos and lead consulting work based in our Fresno, California office.
The ideal candidate will possess:
Training provided. This is a full-time position with medical, dental, holidays/vacation and 401K options.
Please send resume and cover letter indicating salary requirements to email@example.com.
Michael Sharp, HMS, Inc.’s CEO, was among the environmental scientists, policy advocates and industry representatives who spoke to the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention’s Regulatory Reform Agenda meetings in Washington, DC on May 1, 2017.
The meetings were held in response to Trump Administration directives to reduce regulation. Sharp took the opportunity to argue for streamlined regulations that reduce industry costs and confusion while still protecting workers and the public from the harmful effects of toxic substances in building materials.
In his remarks to the committee’s meeting on Lead Exposure regulations, Sharp pointed out:
“the level of lead in paint that determines if it’s lead-based was not based on health; it was based on the accuracy of an X-ray spectrum analyzer . . . This leads to the misconception that paints and coatings which do not contain enough lead to be “lead-based,” are safe. . . paint with no lead in it at all could contain cadmium, barium, mercury, asbestos, and numerous other heavy metals and hazardous ingredients. . . We could save millions on inspections if we looked for any deteriorated paint, not just lead-based paint. We could make enforcement of paint regulations simpler, saving on enforcement while increasing compliance. We could level the playing field for contractors on projects that impact paint, allowing more work to be conducted by contractors doing the job well and, most importantly, protect those we are trying to protect more effectively while reducing cost.”
In remarks to the meeting on the Toxic Substances Control Act, Sharp argued for consistency between AHERA regulations addressing the handling of asbestos in schools and NESHAP regulations addressing asbestos in other locations. He asked, if you want to protect children, or custodial and maintenance workers, “why only protect those in schools? . . . All contractors and construction team members, not just abatement contractors, should be required to go through asbestos training. This would save significant costs involved with the mishandling of asbestos-containing materials and its clean-up. . . combining NESHAP and AHERA would not put significant additional cost on building owners but could significantly reduce the need for enforcement and increase compliance.”
Full transcript of May 1, 2017 Toxic Substances Control Act regulatory reform meeting: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OA-2017-0190-22478
Full transcript of May 1, 2017 Lead Exposure Regulatory Reform meeting: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OA-2017-0190-22477
Washington Post article re: public comment on EPA regulatory reform: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/05/16/epa-asked-the-public-which-regulations-to-gut-and-got-an-earful-about-leaving-them-alone/?utm_term=.e1dcd1dc759d
New Federal and Cal OSHA silica standards for the construction industry are scheduled to be enforced as of September 23, 2017. These standards apply to any job tasks where airborne concentrations of silica may exceed the Action Level of 25 micrograms/cubic meter. If you do any construction work involving concrete, these standards are likely to apply. They require construction employers to have a written exposure control plan for silica, and to ensure that appropriate work practices, training, and record-keeping are taking place.
HMS, Inc.’s training partner and consulting competitor, Forensic Analytical Consulting Services, presented an excellent webinar on the new silica standards this spring. We encourage you to view the webinar here, and to contact either HMS, Inc. or FACS with any questions you may have.
HMS, Inc. is seeking a conscientious, collaborative manager for our Bakersfield Branch operations.
Duties of the Branch Manager will include:
The ideal candidate will possess:
To apply, send resume and cover letter to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
HMS, Inc. has been expanding its asbestos and lead training program, with several exciting recent developments.
It’s all part of our commitment to providing the most accurate and practical training in hazardous materials management available.
View our training page for courses that are currently scheduled, and check back for more courses to come.
HMS now has confirmed expanding their training to be conducted in Hayward, CA. We are currently working on posting our 2017 calendar for all Initial and Refresher AHERA courses. For more information contact us at email@example.com
Update: Course calendar can be found here.