ST. LOUIS - The city of St. Louis became the latest party to file suit against former suppliers of lead pigments and lead-based paint, in a move that caught even most city officials off guard.

The suit, filed in St. Louis Circuit Court, seeks compensation to pay for the elimination of lead hazards from housing and for other costs related to health problems caused by lead paint. Named as defendants are the Lead Industries Association - a trade group - and nine companies, but the suit includes no specifics on the amount of money being sought. St. Louis is reported to have one of the highest rates of childhood lead poisoning in the country.

The companies named as defendants are American Cyanamid Co., Atlantic Richfield Co., DuPont Co., The O'Brien Corp., The Glidden Co., NL Industries Inc., SCM Corp., The Sherwin-Williams Co., and the Doe Run Co., a lead-mining concern that operates in Missouri.