The news about higher levels of lead found in Newark schools’ water is still flowing. The Wall Street Journal reported that Newark’s water contamination is not a new issue, and that approximately 12 percent of the total 2,067 water samples tested between 2012 and 2015, showed lead levels above the federal limit of 15 parts per billion. In 2016, out of the 657 water collections tested, 10 percent proved to be at similar levels of lead content as the tested samples in earlier years. Furthermore, Fox News Health reported that the lead issue dates further back than 2012, pointing to the school district’s knowledge of elevated limits as early as 2003.
As we discussed on this blog in December, 10 cities and counties in California earned a surprise win in a public nuisance lawsuit against former lead paint manufacturers and their successor companies. Legal until 1978, lead paint is now known to be poisonous, especially to children. Yet 35 years later, innumerable older buildings in California, here in New York and across the nation still contain the hidden hazard. Lead paint abatement is mandatory in certain circumstances, but countless homes and apartments haven’t received it, risking the health of unknowing renters and homebuyers.
In a surprising but welcome ruling, a California judge recently ruled that three lead paint companies are responsible for creating a public nuisance with their products, which were routinely used in homes before 1978. Ten cities and counties had sued Sherwin-Williams, NL Industries and ConAgra Grocery Products (as a successor company to W.P. Fuller & Co.) for the widespread lead paint hazards suffered by property owners across the state. They argued the manufacturers should be required to help clean it up, even though their product was legal at the time.
If you rent an apartment or house in New York that was built before 1978, your home may contain lead paint. While you shouldn’t dismiss other potential causes of lead poisoning, dust from lead paint is still the No. 1 source of lead poisoning in U.S. children.