The Pittsburgh-based paint company PPG Industries announced earlier this month that it will stop using lead in all of its paint by the year 2020.

Both companies have been pressured by activists, health and safety activists, and other groups to eliminate lead from paint products due to the detrimental affects on the brain. A petition in March was signed by 5,700 people that called upon both Sherwin-Williams and PPG to stop making lead paint and selling it abroad.

Lead paint was banned in 1978 because research found it led to irreversible harm on developing brains in children resulting in learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and health issues down the line. Yet, lead paint still remains in many low-income housing units across the country and is used in industrial paints for durability and performance. Children are often exposed to lead due to chipped lead paint that they swallow or breathe.

Sherwin-Williams acknowledged that it produces lead-containing industrial paints, but said that these are a small portion of its business, and do not end up in the hands of average consumers. The same is true of PPG's portfolio, according to company spokesman Mark Silvey. But last year, the company still set the goal of eliminating lead from these industrial coatings, he said. Thursday's shareholder meeting was the first public announcement of the move.
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