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NJ Lead Paint Bill Riles Retailers

Monday, August 17, 2015

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Legislators in New Jersey are trying to make retailers more responsible about informing customers of the dangers of lead-based paint removal.

However, at least one leader in the state’s retail industry does not share the lawmakers' enthusiasm.

Bills from Both Chambers

Concurrent bills are moving through both the New Jersey Senate and New Jersey Assembly this year. The Senate Bill (S1527) passed through the Senate Commerce Committee with a unanimous vote on July 20.

The bill in the Assembly, A2885, is sponsored by Rep. Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood) and Rep. Troy Singleton (D-Mount Laurel). That bill has been referred to the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee.

The Senate bill was sponsored by Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen County) in February. It would require retailers who sell paint or supplies intended to remove paint to display posters warning that lead paint poisoning could result from improperly removing the paint.

Senators were supposed to vote on the bill Thursday (Aug. 13). According to NorthJersey.com, that vote never occurred. It’s unclear from the Senate or Assembly’s websites if the vote will be rescheduled soon.

Retailers Unhappy

John Holub, president of the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association has been critical of the measure because he believes it would shift the burden of warning the public about the dangers of lead paint from the manufacturers to retailers.

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Legislators in New Jersey are trying to make retailers more responsible about informing customers of the dangers of lead paint. But retailers say that warning should be up to the manufacturers.

“A sign up in a store is one of the more ineffective ways to raise awareness of this issue,” Holub told NJSpotlight.com.

“Before you start beginning to require retailers to start putting signs in their stores, I would like to know what the paint manufacturers—the people who should ultimately be responsible for this product—have done,” he said.

Holub questioned whether paint manufacturers have lived up to their end of a 2003 consent agreement with New Jersey’s attorney general, in which they agreed to include labels on their products about the danger of paint removal in old houses, and to fund public education on the issue.

But since then, the state’s Supreme Court has thrown out a number of lawsuits seeking to hold those manufacturers responsible. Other bills also have been introduced in both chambers to try to make retailers more responsible for lead-paint warnings.

“At a certain point, it becomes ineffective to put signs up in the stores,” said Holub.

Poster Warnings

At a minimum, the posters would have to indicate that dry sanding or scraping paint from dwellings built before 1978 is dangerous, according to a statement made after the bill passed through committee.

The posters also would have to warn that improper removal of lead paint is a significant source of lead paint dust and is the primary cause of lead poisoning, the statement said. They would also have to provide information on how to contact resources for more information.

Under an amendment made in committee, the bill also would require the state’s Department of Health to regulate the posters and determine which businesses would have to display them.

CDC Warnings

As NJSpotlight points out, no one is disputing the importance of reducing lead paint exposure.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control has said that there is no proven safe level of lead in the body. Studies have shown that lead is harmful to the entire body, but particularly can affect brain development.

Nearly one in 200 children tested in 2013, or 0.48 percent, had dangerously high levels of lead in their blood.

That’s still better than it was 15 years ago. In 2000, the level was 2.83 percent, according to the CDC.


Tagged categories: Centers for Disease Control; Government; Lead; Lead; Lead Disclosure Rule; Lead paint abatement; Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP); Overcoating lead; Retail

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