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Why did people ever make lead-based paint?

Lead-based paint is a serious health hazard. It's especially dangerous for children. When they breathe in the dust or even put paint chips directly into their mouths, they can suffer from learning disabilities, IQ issues, mood swings, aggression issues and much more. Lead can stunt their development. While some of the signs only show up as the child gets older, exposure at a young age can have an impact for the rest of their life.

What you may wonder, then, is why lead paint was ever used. You know that people did not understand the negative impact of lead in previous generations. They didn't know it was toxic. Just look at the Romans, who used it in pipes and plates and cups. Only in recent decades have people really discovered just how bad it is.

But that doesn't explain why it was used, only why they didn't avoid it. What advantages did it have?

Drying time

First off, lead additives made paint dry more quickly. That was a huge benefit for home builders and contractors. They could get the job done far more quickly. That means they could take more jobs and earn more money. People embraced fast-drying paint and wanted the lead additives to increase production.

Durability

Another issue with paint is durability, and adding lead just made the paint stand up to more abuse. People loved this because it meant they had to repaint far less often. Durable paint in a home made the home look beautiful for longer, even as it took the constant abuse that comes with daily life.

Moisture resistance

Both inside of a home and outside, one of the main benefits of paint is just protecting the wood or metal below from moisture. Paint stops rot and rust. It makes homes last. Lead added greater resistance to moisture and helped homes stay in good condition for longer. This made it very valuable and preferred by homeowners all over the country.

In addition, since children often put toys in their mouths, lead-based paint saw extensive use on toys. Again, it protected the toys from moisture. As we now know, though, that meant that children suffered direct exposure to dangerous lead levels when simply playing with their toys.

Pigments

Finally, lead helped with the pigmentation of certain colors of paint. It saw extensive use in white, cream and bright red -- three of the most popular paint colors. Lead really was an all-around additive with a lot of different uses.

Your rights

Whatever the reasons for its use, exposure to lead paint can have devastating effects.

Has your child gotten exposed to lead paint? Is he or she dealing with learning disorders and developmental problems? If so, it is important for you and your family to know what legal rights you have in California.

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