Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Lead paint issue isn't about lawyers;

it's about victims poisoned for life

Pity the poor lead paint manufacturers.

There they were, minding their own business, just trying to make a buck, not hurting anybody, when -- WHAM! -- along came some greedy lawyers who tried to take their hard-earned money.

At least that's the way columnist Patrick McIlheran sees it. If they can do it to the lead paint companies, he warns, they can do it to anyone. "... if you've ever earned money off something fattening, maybe you should worry," he writes in the Journal Sentinel.

Lead paint is not quite like Coca-Cola or Big Macs, however. There are a few things McIlheran neglected to mention.

Lead paint is a deadly hazard that has poisoned thousands of children in Wisconsin --more than 20,000 in the last 10 years alone. Milwaukee has the fourth highest rate of lead paint poisoning among kids in the US, but it is a statewide problem. Children ingest lead chips in older homes where lead paint still exists on window sills and elsewhere.

Lead may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children under 7 are most at risk, because their bodies and brains are developing quickly and are sensitive to even small amounts of lead.

Children affected by lead poisoning may suffer learning disabilities, brain damage, loss of IQ points and intellect, academic failure, behavioral problems, neurological problems, brain swelling, major organ failure, coma, and death,according to the National Safety Council.

It is an issue now because the Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled that lead paint manufacturers can be held liable for injuries caused by their poisonous products, even if the injured person can't prove which company made the paint decades ago.

The harmful effects of lead paint have been known for 100 years. In 1904, Sherwin-Williams Co. publicized the hazards of white lead paint in its own monthly publication, according to the State Supreme Court decision.

But many manufacturers kept right on making and marketing it until 1978, when the federal government banned it for residential use.

More than 25 years later, lead paint, still in many older homes, continues to poison Wisconsin children every day. Some of those children will be permanently brain-damaged.

The Republican-run legislature is reacting by passing bills that will make sure no lead paint victim is ever able to hold any manufacturer accountable.

One of the provisions in the bill about to be passed puts a 25-year statute of limitations into place. Manufacturers would be liable only for products manufactured and sold within the last 25 years. Since this product was outlawed 27 years ago, victims and their families no recourse to win compensation for the injuries, often lifelong, caused by lead paint. That is truly justice denied.

Business and manufacturers, their lobbyists and knee-jerk free enterprise conservatives like to talk about greedy lawyers and use them as the bogeymen in their arguments on issues like this.

That's because they don't want to talk about the victims.

The Journal Sentinel's recent three-part series highlighted the problem in Milwaukuee.


At 9:15 AM, Blogger Dad29 said...

As sentient humans know, the "study" used by the JS for their series was shot to pieces by peers.

Most of the numbers you quote, therefore, are suspect or bogus.

At 9:28 AM, Blogger Xoff said...

So lead paint doesn't poison children. That's good to know.


Post a Comment

<< Home