Lead Paint Ban Legislation

Legislation Needed in the U.S. to Stop the Use of Lead Paint

While the use of lead paint was restricted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for residential applications in 1978, it is still legal to paint outdoor and industrial structures with lead-based paint, including bridges, water towers, pipes, playground equipment, highways, parking lots, guard rails, and utility poles or towers. Many outdoor structures are located in close proximity to homes, parks and schools, where lead paint chips and dust will eventually be released contaminating soil and inadvertently contribute to exposures for children and adults. There have been many documented incidents of lead poisoning and environmental contamination resulting from the use of lead coatings on these structures. A list of some of these incidents in the U.S. is presented here.

Many Departments of Transportation and other State agencies have already taken steps to eliminate its use due to the high cost of addressing the presence of lead paint during painting and renovation projects. Even where there is no public access, workers are often over-exposed to lead during construction and renovation projects. Workers taking home contamination from jobs with lead paint are also one of the most common sources of childhood lead poisoning.

The State of Delaware has recently become the first state to ban the use of lead paint on outdoor surfaces and structures. The legislation unanimously passed in both houses of the Delaware legislature. The American Bar Association in 2017 adopted a resolution calling on governments to phase out lead paint by 2020 in accordance with the United Nations Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint (GAELP) under the leadership of the World Health Organization and UN Environment.

Taking action to stop the use of lead paint is critical for preventing lead poisoning, and these regulations can provide a date certain for new structures that will no longer have to be tested before painting and renovation work can begin.

State or national legislation should:

  • Define lead paint as 90 ppm by weight, in the dry paint film, to be consistent with federal standards for residential paint.
  • Prohibit outdoor applications of lead paint including coatings on roadways, outdoor structures, vehicles, and other products.
  • Direct State agencies to develop regulations on the containments and other restrictions for the removal of lead paint from outdoor structures.
  • Include an enforcement mechanism with penalties for noncompliance.
  • Require State agencies to prohibit the use of lead paint on new construction or in procurement of vehicles or other product purchases.

Resources for State Legislators Working to Develop Legislation: