From: Andrew Welsch-Huggins, Associated Press
Published April 4, 2007 12:00 AM

State Accuses U.S. Companies of Making, Selling Lead Paint

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio's attorney general filed suit against 10 major U.S. chemical companies and paint makers, accusing them of continuing to make and sell lead paint while knowing it presented health hazards.


State Attorney General Marc Dann sued 10 companies, including Sherwin-Williams and DuPont, on Monday to ensure the state maintains the right to seek damages.


"Because lead is hazardous or toxic, at all relevant times the defendants were under a duty to exercise the highest degree of care that skill and foresight can attain," said the lawsuit.


The U.S. government banned lead paint in 1978, but it still turns up in older buildings. Lead in the bloodstream can cause neurological damage and learning disabilities, especially in children.


Dann wants the companies declared in violation of the state's public nuisance law.


The companies say the lawsuit is a distraction from efforts to fight problems related to lead paint.


Rhode Island became the first state to sue paint manufacturers in 1999, and last year, a jury there found three of the companies -- Sherwin-Williams, NL Industries and Millennium Holdings -- liable for creating a public nuisance. Analysts have predicted cleanup costs could reach into the billions of dollars, and the companies have appealed the jury's verdict to the state Supreme Court.


In many cases, companies stopped producing lead paint decades ago and have addressed the issue responsibly, said Bonnie Campbell, a lawyer representing Sherwin Williams, Atlantic Richfield Co., Millennium Holdings LLC and NL Industries Inc.


"If decreasing exposure of children to deteriorating lead paint is the goal, then a proper public policy response is certainly not litigation that promises to go on for years, maybe decades," she said.


The other companies named in the lawsuit are American Cyanamid Co.; Armstrong Containers Inc.; Conagra Grocery Products Co., Cytec Industries Inc.; and Lyondell Chemical Co.


Source: Associated Press


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