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Delaware bans outdoor use of lead-based paints

Workers - painter © kalpis - Fotolia.com

Delaware has become the first US state to ban outdoor lead-based paint. Governor John Carney (D) signed HB 456 into law on 29 August.

The Act, introduced to "protect public health", bans the use of lead paints on structures such as bridges, water towers, playground equipment, highways, parking lots, and utility towers and poles.

The prohibition on any new use of lead-based paints, pigments and coatings will be effective from 1 January 2020. Any use of such items that began before that date will be outlawed from 1 January 2024.

Anyone violating the ban could face a fine up to a maximum of $10,000 a day, with each day of continued violation considered an additional offence.

The law also requires the state's health and natural resources departments to coordinate efforts to reduce the future effects of the weathering of lead paints already in use outdoors.

Federal ban

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned the use of lead-based paint for indoor or recreational uses in 1978. But Delaware has been the first to tackle outdoor use.

According to the Act, lead found in paints on outdoor structures threatens the health of workers and the general public because it "causes neurological damage, behavioural and learning disabilities among children, as well as anaemia, high blood pressure, kidney damage and reproductive effects".

There are no safe levels of exposure, the Act says, and no way to reverse the damage caused by lead exposure.

Delaware's ban comes after a two-year campaign by two state residents, environmental advocate Amy Roe and registered nurse Sarah Bucic.

One of the bill's co-sponsors, Representative John Kowalko (D), called it "one of the most important bills to be passed by the state legislature. This landmark legislation will ensure cleaner air, water, and soil and help protect the public against the threat that lead-based products presents."

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