On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion by Chair Janice Hahn and Supervisor Kathryn Barger to use a recent $134 million settlement to remove lead paint from thousands of homes in LA County, thus protecting children now and for generations to come from toxic lead poisoning.
In 2018, the County of Los Angeles and nine other local public entities won a landmark legal victory against three former manufacturers of lead paint. After 19 years of litigation, the Court found that these companies created an ongoing public nuisance by advertising lead paint use in homes while having knowledge of the toxic hazard to human health. Of the $305 million settlement, the County of Los Angeles will receive $134 million.
“Children are still being poisoned by the lead paint these companies profited off of for decades,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn, who authored the motion. “I applaud the aggressive efforts of our litigation team in their pursuit of environmental justice. We are going to put this funding to work removing lead paint from thousands of homes in LA County so that we can protect children now and for generations to come from lead poisoning.”
The Board of Supervisors voted today to use the $134 million settlement to create and fund a new and comprehensive Lead Paint Hazard Mitigation Program in partnership with the LA County Department of Public Health and the Los Angeles County Development Authority. Over the next eight years, this program will allow for the removal of lead paint from an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 homes.
The program will target residential properties built before 1951, in low-income communities with a high prevalence of children under the age of six. Services will be completely free to those who qualify and will include testing for and remediation of lead paint hazards in both indoor and outdoor surfaces of homes. The program will also provide resources and education on lead hazards and how to prevent childhood lead poisoning.
“All of our children deserve to live in homes and communities that are free from environmental hazards,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “The proposed program is critically needed to ensure that low-income families with young children can live in housing free from lead paint hazards.”
“We are pleased to partner with the Department of Public Health to address lead hazards in older homes and provide solutions to protect our most vulnerable residents for generations to come,” said Monique Viehland-King, Executive Director of the LACDA.
Lead paint is the most significant environmental hazard for children in Los Angeles County and in California. Lead is a neurotoxin and exposure of children to lead can cause severe and permanent damage to the developing brain, including learning disabilities, deficits in attention and concentration, memory, comprehension, and impulse control. Even though lead paint was banned in the United States in 1978, nearly 3,000 children are still diagnosed with lead poisoning each year in Los Angeles County.
Submitted by Liz Odendahl