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Attorney General Baker Announces Nationwide Agreement to Protect Children from Lead Paint Poisoning

PRESS ADVISORY

Attorney General Baker Announces Nationwide Agreement to Protect Children from Lead Paint Poisoning

May 12, 2003

(Atlanta) – Attorney General Thurbert Baker announced today that 48 Attorneys General have finalized an agreement aimed at educating and warning consumers and families about the risk of lead paint exposure during repainting and other home renovation work. The agreement, reached between the Attorneys General and the National Paint and Coating Association (NPCA), 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.

“Meaningful warning labels should help to substantially reduce the number of lead poisoning cases both here in Georgia and around the country. Warnings to consumers are especially critical when dealing with potential exposure of children to lead paint,” Attorney General Baker said. “This agreement will help educate families and consumers about potential dangers associated with home improvement projects.”

While lead paint has not been manufactured or sold since 1978, it still presents a serious health risk to both adults and young children who are exposed to dust or occupy homes during renovations. Older homes often contain lead paint from earlier paint jobs, which may pose a potential health hazard when renovations or home improvement projects are undertaken. As existing paint is disturbed from activities that range from paint removal to drilling into existing walls to wall demolition, the lead paint may flake off or settle as dust onto surfaces around the house. It then becomes a potential hazard to any individual in the home, but it poses a critical hazard to infants and toddlers who may ingest the paint from dust or flakes that settle on items used by children for play or teething.

The agreement reached between the Attorneys General and the Association requires two lead exposure warnings on paint cans. One warning must be printed on the side of the paint can, as part of the manufacturer’s surface preparation instructions, and a second abbreviated warning must be affixed either on the top of the can or on a separate “sticker” where the warning is less likely to be obscured after the paint is used. The National Paint and Coatings Association has also 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 installing a brand new kitchen, it is imperative that families take the proper precautions. To learn more about working safely with lead paint, consumers should call the Environmental Protection Authority’s Lead Information Hotline at 1-800-424-5323 (800-424-LEAD) or log on to www.epa.gov/lead. The agreement was the culmination of seven months of negotiations, begun in October 2002, between representatives of the Attorneys General and representatives from 10 major paint manufacturers. In total, Attorneys General from 48 states and jurisdictions signed on to the agreement, including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, 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, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.