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City Of San Diego Awarded $15 Million In Lead Paint Settlement

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Three companies that formerly manufactured lead paint have agreed to pay the city of San Diego $15 million to settle a nearly two-decade lawsuit over the use of their paint products in local homes.

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Speaker 1: 00:00 San Diego was about to get its share of a multimillion dollar settlement over the use of lead paint. The city will receive $15 million from paint manufacturers, con Agra grocery products and l industries and the Sherwin Williams company. The lawsuit filed by Multiple California cities has been litigated for nearly 20 years. It claimed that the company's knowingly marketed, led paint long after its health risks were discovered and the companies should pay for the mitigation of toxic lead paint on older homes across the state. The companies have admitted no wrongdoing. The TCI Yalla is with the environmental health coalition, a San Diego based environmental justice advocacy group, and La TCO. Welcome. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Well, the environmental health coalition has been a key player in preventing childhood lead poisoning. You've been there since the beginning of this long fight. How did the group first become involved in this lead paint issue?

Speaker 1: 00:59 Well, that goes nearly 20 years ago, so we established this program to protect children from the dangers of lad being that the number one source of lad is the lead in their homes. The led death that gets created by just opening and closing your doors and your windows. It creates this invisible desk, lands on the floors, onto the toys and onto where the children's mouth, because of their hand to mouth behavior. It's a silent disease because it's happening in our homes every day. Tens of thousands of children are being exposed to this. And unfortunately a lot of parents are not aware because there's no symptoms. And coincidentally, today was, um, my son's [inaudible] first day of kindergarten and I had an opportunity to stand, you know, next to a lot of parents, a lot of grandparents and the dreams that we have for our children. And I just couldn't help but think about the children in Barrio Logan and Sherman Heights in Linda Vista in city heights, where you have the pockets of lead poisoning, where they're low income, they're people of color, they're in homes that are despicable, you know, and it's every single day that they're being exposed to.

Speaker 1: 02:19 And so this $15 million is sane no more. You know, it's saying to these powerful corporations, pay for the mess you created. I heard that you had sort of a visual experience of seeing an older home sort of, right. The a residue of it's led paint while you were touring shirt Sherman Heights one time. That's correct. Um, when we started actually, uh, we were hearing a lot of stories from mothers primarily in Sherman heights and Barrio Logan about um, their children, high levels of lead. And so we went door to door as we do, um, in our community organizing approach. And over the years folks would know of us and would call us. They didn't know environmental health coalition, the full name of our group. They know, they knew us as Les Chicos diploma the lead ladies. And so they called us up and they said, you know, we have a house that's been renovated and unfortunately it seems like there's a lot of lead dust around the entire community right across the street from the Sherman Elementary.

Speaker 1: 03:34 We called it nightmare on 22nd street. And that was the starting point because we call the health department health department said it's a housing issue. The housing departments would say that's actually a health issue. There was a lot of finger pointing and we needed to create the bridge between these departments. We needed to go after HUD grants, opportunities for us to invest in our homes. And as a nonprofit, that's exactly what we did. So what would you like to see the city do with this $15 million settlement? We want the city to make a simplify program so that the families that need it the most can actually tap into those resources. We want the money to go to the neighborhoods. As I mentioned, the pockets where we have the hot spots and we want tenant protection so that when the homes do get renovated, beautified and um, they're less safe, the landlords don't turn around and evict them because this has a potential of creating, um, unintended negative consequences.

Speaker 1: 04:39 What should someone do if they believe they are living in a house with lead based paint? The city I'm sure is already putting their thinking caps together. They're going to be creating a program at this point. It's too early to say when they're going to roll it out, but I'm assuming that there will be a hotline number where people will call and we would then be able to, the city would be able to respond and follow with a simple inspection to determine if the lead based paint is a hazard. If you can live in an older home without being afraid of that, it's just that we don't want that older paint to be out on the surface to the point that it's on the floor. Invisible dust all over. We, you can encapsulate it, paint over it, have good pink condition and no problem. You can live in a beautiful altar home. I've been speaking with Leticia yellow with the environmental health coalition. Lataetia thank you so much. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Speaker 2: 05:40 [inaudible].

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.