FAIRFIELD — A California state court’s decision to award $1.1 billion in a lead paint lawsuit could result in $22 million coming to Solano County for lead paint abatement.
Seven counties and three cities filed a lawsuit against lead paint companies 13 years ago. Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg delivered his ruling earlier this week.
Solano County Counsel Dennis Bunting said on Wednesday that the outcome came as no surprise to him. But he doesn’t expect to have that $22 million abatement fund available for two or three more years.
“We’ll have to wait,” Bunting said. “You can bet they’re going to appeal.”
The three companies found liable have already said they will appeal the verdict as far as they can.
Homes built before 1978 in California can contain lead paint. Lead poisoning can cause learning and behavior problems, with children under age 6 at the greatest risk, according to California Department of Public Health.
Solano County would use the money to survey homes and buildings likely to have lead paint, Bunting said. It would offer to correct the lead paint problems that it found. The money is only for the interior of buildings.
Window sills are a particular problem, Bunting said. The paint deteriorates and creates dust that children touch. They later might put their hands into their mouths and ingest the lead.
Santa Clara County started the lawsuit. Bunting said Solano County joined in part because he knew and talked with then-Santa Clara County Counsel Ann Miller Ravel and in part because of lead paint concerns voiced by then-Solano County Health Officer Thomas Charron.
Bunting praised the testimony given during the case by current Solano County Health Officer, Bela Matyas.
Presently, the county finds out about lead paint problems when a doctor discovers a child has elevated lead blood levels, according to the county website. The county investigates and, if it finds lead in or near the child’s residence, the property owners must abate the problem.
Some owners might know they have lead paint issues with their property and don’t report it for fear of facing code enforcement, Bunting said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.