Lead contained in paint and gasoline is banned in the U.S., but it persists in the environment in house dust and paint chips, particularly in poorer neighborhoods. Lead-based paints were commonly used in the 1950s and '60s. According to the Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, 30 million U.S. homes built before 1960 still have lead in them. In 1978, Congress banned the use of lead paints.
Paint makers have faced a number of lawsuits over lead paint since 1989. Paint companies that produced lead-based paint in the past include Benjamin Moore & Co., Sherwin-Williams Co., Atlantic Richfield Co., NL Industries Inc., E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., and Glidden Co. Defendants in such cases have banded together to defend suits against the industry. In response to lawsuits and other accusations, paint manufacturers have argued that, unlike tobacco companies, they never deceived anyone about the dangers of their products. The industry says it funded the research into the health risks of lead paint and then, after the health hazard was proven, voluntarily pulled lead paint off the market nearly 50 years ago. Of the lawsuits that have been resolved, the former manufacturers have not lost or settled a single case. To date manufacturers have had significant success avoiding liability, however, increased scrutiny may make it possible for you to recover. Suits against landlords have been more successful. Landlords who do not maintain safe properties by removing lead-based paint or fail to cover the hazardous paint with a new coat of lead-free paint or with wallpaper can be held liable.