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A Toxics-Free Future


Health Risk Analysis of Lead Exposure in Selected Paint Industry Workers in Indonesia

Until 2021, about 77% of decorative paints manufactured and sold in Indonesia contained high lead concentrations above the global achievable safe level of 90 ppm. Lead is a toxic heavy metal and is classified as a probable human carcinogen.

This study was conducted in Indonesia from 2022 to 2023 and aimed to assess the health risks faced by paint manufacturers' workers in three factories grouped as follows:

  • Industry A: a facility that eliminated lead paint in 2005 (20 workers);
  • Industry B: a facility that more recently eliminated lead paint (since 2019, 12 workers); and
  • Industry C: a paint manufacturer still making lead paint (since 1950), with two plants (20 workers total).

Based on the workers’ blood lead levels and current Indonesian health standards, the study found clear evidence of more significant risks of cancer and non-cancer health conditions for workers in Industry C. Specifically:

  • 75% of Industry C’s respondents have high blood lead levels greater than 5 μg/dL, compared to Industry A and B, with only 5-8% of respondents, respectively.
  • 55% of respondents in Industry C had blood lead levels that showed an increased non-cancer risk, and another four workers of Industry C had levels above the safety standard that would prompt regular blood level monitoring.
  • 10% of Industry C workers had blood lead levels linked to a significant increase in their lifetime cancer risk, four times higher than for workers in Industry A and 2.5 times higher than for workers in Industry B.
  • Workers in Industry C have an elevated lifetime risk for non-cancer health conditions related to lead exposure, almost 3.5 times higher for workers in Industry A and almost 2 times higher than those in Industry B.

Download the summary and full report below for more on the findings, methods, and recommendations.

See the press release here.


PDF icon Executive Summary6.66 MB
PDF icon Report19.07 MB