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A Toxics-Free Future


Experts call for urgent rule to ban lead in paints

Experts yesterday called for urgent formation of regulations to ban lead content in household paints. The call came at a workshop organised by the Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO) at its Mohammadpur headquarters.

The workshop focused on the health risk posed by lead in paints in the wake of the “International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2018” this month. The Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paint (GAELP) observes the programme around the world every year.  According to WHO and UN, only 68 countries (34%) had confirmed to this control as of October 2017.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Sultan Ahmed, the director general of the Department of Environment (DoE), said: “To protect the environment and public health, there is an urgent need to ban lead in paints in Bangladesh.”

He also said the Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institute (BSTI) has already published a statutory regulation order (SRO) on the acceptable standard of lead content in paints, which is below 90 ppm.  

“However, we are still struggling for a regulation in this regard,” he added.

According to him, the role of lead exposure in triggering intellectual disability among children was of particular concern.

“Even though there is widespread recognition of the harmful effects of lead and many countries have taken action, exposure to lead, particularly among children, remains a key concern to healthcare providers and public health officials worldwide,” he said.

A significant source of domestic lead exposure was paints containing high levels of lead. “These paints are still widely available and used in many countries for decorative purposes, although good substitutes without lead are available as well,” he said.

ESDO chairperson Syed Marghub Murshed said: “The Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint was formed in 2011 to promote phasing out of the manufacture and sale of paints containing lead and eventually to eliminate the risks posed by such paints pose.”

He also said that the ESDO has been working in Bangladesh since 2008 to raise awareness and policy advocacy of “Ban Lead Paint” to lead the country towards a regulation on this regard.

Referring an ESDO study which analysed five 22 leading brands of paints in the country, Murshed said, 19 of the samples they had studied had dangerously high levels of lead. ESDO survey report revealed that five brands sell paints with lead levels below 90 ppm but rest sell paint with nearly 600 ppm lead.