Rhode Island became the first state to sue the makers of lead paint on Tuesday, seeking hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for treating lead-poisoned children and removing lead paint from buildings. At least a dozen other states, counties, and cities are considering filing similar lawsuits, inspired by suits filed against the tobacco industry. Lawyers for Rhode Island are accusing the paint makers of knowing that lead paint was dangerous before it was banned in the U.S. in 1978 and covering up the risk. Nearly 20 percent of Rhode Island kindergarten children have elevated lead levels in their blood, according to a new state report. Studies conducted this decade have found that two-thirds of the nation’s housing still contains lead paint and that 890,000 children ages 1 to 5 have elevated blood-lead levels.

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