In a recent report from the Huffington Post, California is facing backlash for its lead paint court ruling from a group of “small and independent business owners.” This group, named the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), claims nationwide support, which is raising nationwide confusion.
Though the members of the group work in businesses with only three to five employees, they are speaking on behalf of the major businesses affected by the law, namely ConAgra and Sherwin-Williams. These businesses, along with National Lead, were ordered by the court to pay $1.15 billion towards addressing lead paint hazards in seven counties and 3.5 million homes.
Children under the age of six have significantly higher risk of health hazards caused by lead paint, and Los Angeles County’s Environmental Health Director, Angelo Bellomo, wants to keep them safe.
“Roughly 1.5 million homes in the county built before 1978 more than likely contain lead-based paint. We believe that throughout the county, 3,500 children each year have blood screening levels at or above the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] reference. Rather than waiting until our blood level screening program tells us we have a burdened child, the judgment will provide the funding necessary to abate that hazard.”
But the NFIB seem to disagree. Senior federation counsel Luke Wake had this to say:
“We disagree with the decision that there is a public nuisance and are concerned that it creates new liabilities for small business property owners and manufacturers. The decision opens up a Pandora’s box for potential lawsuits against anyone who owns an older building that may happen to have some trace amount of lead paint in it. If there is a health and safety issue, it should be addressed by the legislature.”
Lead paint has been proven to cause negative health effects for some time now, so it is very likely that this debate is not at an end.