Monday, April 03, 2006

Speaking of Paint

There was in interesting article in the New York Times on April 2nd about the Lead Paint Case in Rhode Island.

Some people feel this is the Next Big Thing since the tobacco suits. Others feel that it's all manufactured fear-mongering since most homes have been repainted and very little lead is exposed.

Lead-based paint was banned from being sold in the US in 1978, but for homes built earlier, especially before the 1950's, there is a pretty strong chance there is lead present. If it's painted over, then it's probably encapsulated. But if the paint chips and exposes the old surface, then lead may be a concern.

How do I feel? I think manufacturers are in a pickle. They feel extreme pressure from their customers to make products that perform, and the lead helped do that. But there is an implied brand confidence that the consumer has in the product, and they certainly don't think it will be harmful to their health. But are they willing to give up performance for better health? Not always, I've found.

The question that I keep coming back to: Did ALL paint companies use lead back then? Was that the norm of the day?

If they made the best choice they could at the time, then I think this is wrong and it's attacking them for the wrong reason. If they had better options, then I understand the lawsuit - at least a little bit.