The Missouri Supreme Court recently ruled against St. Louis in the city’s attempts to force lead paint manufacturers to contribute to the cost of lead paint cleanup. Although lead paint has been banned since 1978 because of its tendency to cause health and developmental problems in children, many older homes still contain it. In a divided ruling, the Supreme Court decided that the city could not hold the manufacturers responsible because an inability to positively identify the paint used in a given home. The majority ruling claimed that because the city’s lawsuit was not a public health matter, and because the city cannot positively identify the products used, the city should pay for cleanup. The dissenting opinion, however, stated that the case is a public health issue because the paint is hazardous, and all manufacturers of the paint should have to contribute, regardless of whether the paint could be identified in certain homes.
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