THE CALIFORNIA Department of Health Services (DHS) is currently drafting emergency regulations to implement the state's 1991 Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act, which requires that a "fee" be paid by manufacturers of products that currently contain lead or that contained lead in the past.
Under the law, the fee is to be based on a product's contribution to environmental lead contamination; paint is third on the law's list of contaminants. The fees are intended to generate a $16-million-a-year fund for a state lead poisoning testing program that would screen children under the age of 6 for elevated blood-lead levels and provide case management for chronic exposures.
Initially, the DHS proposed a funding formula that would have placed 88 percent of the burden on petroleum products, 6 percent on industrial emissions, and 6 percent on the paint industry. In September, however, the DHS drastically modified these percentages: it proposed that the petroleum and coatings industries each assume approximately 50 percent of $15 million, while another $1 million be obtained from other sources.
Throughout this rulemaking process, the NPCA's California Paint Council (CPC) -- part …