MAC: Mines and Communities

A lead on lead

Published by MAC on 2006-02-23

A lead on lead

23rd February 2006

In terms of toxic damage to people at large, lead and mercury must surely rank above every other heavy metal.

Now, Rhode Island Supreme Court in the US has found paint manufacturers liable for the poisoning of 30,000 children (and others), nearly thirty years after the banning of lead in paint throughout the country.

It seems likely that these companies, as well as shelling out millions of dollars in damages, will also be forced to pay for the covering, if not total replacement, of all offending paint on buildings and boats.

If an accurate assessment were ever made of the costs involved in neutralising - let alone removing - all metallic sources of toxicity in our homes, businesses , schools, hospitals, transport systems, etc, they would amount to trillions of dollars globally. Yet, all these potentially deadly metals continue to be mined and passed into manufacture, even as we collectively fail to account for the costs of past usage.

While this court decision is welcome, the fact that it is accounted "historic" speaks volumes about previous derelictions, both of the precautionary principle and the demand that the polluter pays.

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