Delaware is the first state to institute such a ban.

Forty years after the federal government banned lead paint for residential use, Delaware Gov. John Carney signed a bill August 29 that prohibits its use on outdoor structures.

HB 456, which passed both chambers of the Delaware General Assembly unanimously, makes Delaware the first state in the nation to ban the new application of lead paint on bridges, water towers, playground equipment, highways, parking lots and utility towers and poles.

Lead is a neurotoxin with dangerous and irreversible health effects. Inhalation or ingestion of lead paint chips, grit or dust from weathering outdoor structures causes neurological damage, behavioral changes and learning disabilities among children, and is also dangerous for adults. There are no safe levels of exposure to lead and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that between 2012 and 2016, 2-3 percent of Delaware children 5 years of age and younger had elevated levels of lead in their blood.

This legislation resulted from a two-year effort by Sarah Bucic R.N. and Amy Roe Ph.D. to address state regulations that allow sandblasting of lead paint from outdoor structures without any state oversight or health protections. It was through their grassroots campaign that the current loophole that allows lead paint to continue to be applied was identified and addressed.

“HB 456 mandates a phase out of lead paint on outdoor structures and the development of regulations to govern the ban” said Kenneth Kristl, professor of law and director of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic at the Delaware Law School. “HB 456 makes Delaware the ‘First State’ to protect its citizens and the environment from the dangers of using lead paint on outdoor structures. The clinic was proud to play a role in drafting the legislation that became HB 456.”

This bill was a collaboration of Democrats and Republicans who worked together to close the loophole that allowed lead paint to be legally applied to outdoor structures. It was co-sponsored by all members of the Delaware Senate and was unanimously passed by both the House and Senate Chambers.

Perry Gottesfeld is president of Occupational Knowledge International, an organization that works to identify, monitor and mitigate environmental and occupational exposures to hazardous materials in order to protect public health and the environment.

“This law is an extremely important precedent that will protect workers, minimize environmental contamination and serves as a model for other states and federal action” Gottesfeld said.

HB 456 also had the support of the Delaware Academy of Medicine/Delaware Public Health Association, Delaware Nature Society, Delaware Nurses Association, Delaware PTA, Green Delaware, League of Women Voters of Delaware, NAACP Delaware State Conference of Branches, and The Arc of Delaware, as well as the Christina School District Board of Education.