Lead content in paints decreasing: Study

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Oct 23, 2017-

Levels of lead content in paints manufactured and sold in Nepal have marked come down as compared to previous years, a recent study shows. 

A report released on the occasion of International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (ILPPW) 2017 on Sunday shows that nearly 60 percent of paints available in the 

market  following the lead level of 90 ppm as set by the government. 

The study called “Compliance Monitoring of Lead Paint Standard in Nepal 2017” carried out by the Centre for Public Health and Environmental Development (CEPHED and Leaders Nepal has shown that the compliance level of Nepali paint industry has gone up. 

Of the total 37 enamel paint samples from 17 different companies picked for the study, around 60 percent had complied with the government standard of 90 ppm set in December 2014. 

The compliance rate has almost doubled in comparison to previous studies--which had put the rate at around 30 percent, according to CEPHED executive director Ram Charitra Sah. 

Four out of five studies on lead content in paints conducted between 2010 and 2015 had recorded that less than 30 percent of the samples had below 90 ppm of lead.

Similarly, another study done by the Ministry of Population and Environment (MoPE) in 2016 had also returned with 30 percent compliance rate.

“The two fold improvement in compliance status over one year period is quite encouraging. It definitely contributes towards protection of public health, especially children, and environment,” said Sah. 

The amount of lead in paints manufactured by companies has come down largely because of the government’s guidelines on compliance of the lead content in imported and domestically manufactured paints.

According to the study, products of eight paint industries were found to be fully compliant with the government standard of 90 ppm, whereas seven others failed to meet it. 

However, none of the paint industries was found to be following the other wo important provisions--mandatory labelling of exact lead content and precautionary message for occupational safety.  

The maximum lead content in paint samples found is 50347.22 ppm which is 560 times higher than the international standard of 90 ppm. However, that was still a sharp decline on what one of the previous studies had recorded--212,000 ppm. A total of 12 paint samples were found to have more than 1000 ppm of lead, which affects physical, mental and intellectual developments of the growing children, especially those under six.

According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), the lead exposure was responsible for 800,000 deaths globally in 2013. 

The IHME has also estimated that lead exposure accounts for 9.3 percent of the global burden of idiopathic intellectual disability, 4 percent of the global burden of ischemic heart disease and 6.6 percent of the global burden of stroke. 

Several studies have already proven that Nepalis are at the grave risk of lead exposure through various means like paints, painted furniture, toys and other items. 

Of the 13 samples--with the Nepal Standard mark--picked for the study, 10 were found to be compliant with the government guidelines. Similarly, only 11 out of 37 samples had the ‘lead-free’ label on paint boxes, according to the research, which the experts say “is encouraging”. 

“A few years ago, there was not a single paint product which would mention this information. At least, the consumers have some options while buying paints now,” added Sah, while insisting that the government should aim at a full compliance of paint standards. 

The private sector is also committed to reducing the harmful effects of the lead to public health. 

“Though we are in the profit-making business, we should not forget our social responsibility. We must follow the international standards. Going for lead free paints doesn’t cost much,” said President of the Federation of Grill and Still Fabricators Nepal Mohan Katuwal, speaking at a press conference to kick off the ILPPW in Nepal.  

The international lead poisoning prevention week is celebrated in Nepal with various programmes on raising public awareness on lead’s hazardous effect on human health and encourages people to adopt preventive measures. 

The ILPPW 2017 has globally called for the Global Alliance to Elimination Lead Paint (GAELP), a joint initiative of the WHO and UNEP aiming towards the protection of public health, especially children, and environment from the toxic effects of lead in paints.

Published: 23-10-2017 07:42

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