Attorney General Hardy Myers today warned consumers about the risks of lead paint exposure during repainting and other home renovation work as part of an announcement of a 51 state and other jurisdictions agreement with the National Paint and Coating Association (NPCA). Oregon is part of a core group of seven states led by the Massachusetts Attorney General that initiated the effort in 2002. The group also includes California, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, and New York.
The agreement requires paint manufacturers to affix warning labels on paint cans and provide consumer education and training, alerting consumers to the hazards of lead paint exposure and how to avoid it.
"Responsible parents want to be forewarned of any hazards that may harm their children and we believe that meaningful warning labels on paint cans will substantially reduce the number of lead poisoning cases, especially relating to children," Myers said. "This agreement will help educate families and consumers about the potential dangers associated with a home improvement project."
After a series of meetings with the largest paint companies including
Sherwin Williams, Cabot, ICI (Glidden, Dulux), Benjamin Moore, Behr, Masco (Master Chem Products), Muralo, and RPM (Rustoleum/Zinsser), and NPCA, the industry's trade association, it was decided that the core group of states and NPCA would negotiate an agreement on behalf of all the states and dozens of paint companies.
"It's important to note that this initiative shows that under the right circumstances, a cooperative and candid approach with an industry can yield results," Myers said. "These new warnings and education initiatives required months of negotiation and will require significant resources from the industry to implement but the results were achieved in a fraction of the time that would have been required had we filed a lawsuit or awaited federal regulatory action."
While lead paint has not been manufactured or sold since 1978, it still presents a serious health risk to adults and, especially, young children who are exposed to dust or occupy homes during renovations. Studies show that up to 30 percent of lead poisoning resulted from lead exposure during home renovation or painting projects by do-it-yourself homeowners or contractors.
The agreement, as of January 1, 2004, requires both a lead exposure warning on the side of the paint can, as part of the manufacturer's surface preparation instructions. The agreement requires paint companies to use the following warning or one substantially similar to it.
"WARNING! If you scrape, sand, or remove old paint, you may release lead dust. LEAD IS TOXIC. EXPOSURE TO LEAD DUST CAN CAUSE SERIOUS ILLNESS, SUCH AS BRAIN DAMAGE, ESPECIALLY IN CHILDREN. PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD ALSO AVOID EXPOSURE.
Wear a NIOSH-approved respirator to control lead exposure. Clean up carefully with a HEPA vacuum and a wet mop. Before you start, find out how to protect yourself and your family by contacting the National Lead Information Hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD or log on to www.epa.gov/lead."
In addition, starting September 30, 2003 and until April 30, 2005, warning stickers with an abbreviated warning must be placed on paint cans, alerting consumers to the hazards of lead dust exposure from surface preparation.
For the next four years, NPCA also has agreed to fund and provide consumer education and training courses on lead-safe renovation and repainting to homeowners, contractors, landlords and housing workers. Also under the terms of the agreement, NPCA will develop discount programs for safety equipment.
Lead poisoning stemming from inadequate surface preparation prior to repainting affects children from all social and economic backgrounds. "Whether repainting a rented apartment or remodeling a kitchen, it is imperative that families take the proper precautions," Myers explained.
Joining Oregon in signing the agreement are Attorneys General from 45 other states and five jurisdictions including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Consumers wanting more information about working safely with lead may call Oregon's Lead Line at 1-800-368-5060, the Environmental Protection Agency's Lead Information Hotline at 1-800-424-5323 or log on to www.epa.gov/lead.
For more information on consumer protection issues in Oregon call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. Justice is online at www.doj.state.or.us.