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Government, Paint Industry, Civil Society Work Together to Phase Out Lead in Paint in Indonesia
Jakarta, Indonesia More than 60 people from government, industry, and civil society participated today in a workshop launching a project aimed at eliminating lead in paint in Indonesia. This initiative is part of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) project on global best practices for phasing out lead paint funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
The two-day workshop aims to officially launch the project implementation in Indonesia as well as share and discuss information related to lead paint both in the global and country context. Data and information on health and economic impacts, country lead paint testing, current regulation, and paint market situation will be presented and discussed with government officials and representatives from the industry.
Under the project, executing partner IPEN, together with Nexus3 Foundation, will work with small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the conduct pilot demonstration projects to remove lead in paint production processes and support the establishment of strong and legally binding lead paint regulations in the country.
While some existing Indonesian standards specify a 600-parts per million (ppm) maximum permissible limit for lead in paints, a new standard is envisaged that will establish a maximum total lead content of 90 ppm in all types of paints, including decorative, architectural and industrial paints, to adequately protect human health. This standard is recommended under the Model Law and Guidance for Regulating Lead Paint that was developed by the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint and published by the UN Environment Programme.
“Lead paint is a major source of childhood lead exposure and there is no known level of exposure that is considered safe. Even at low levels of exposure, lead can cause severe and irreversible neurological damages such as loss of IQ points,” said Dr. Desiree Narvaez, Programme Officer, Chemicals and Health Branch, UN Environment Programme.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes lead paint as a major source of “lead-caused mental retardation,” a disease WHO identifies as one of the top ten diseases whose health burden among children was due to modifiable environmental factors.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has estimated that in 2017 lead exposure accounted for 1.05 million deaths due to long-term effects on health, with the highest burden in low- and middle-income countries.
In the 2015 study conducted by Nexus3 Foundation on 121 solvent-based paints for home use, 83 percent of paints were found to contain lead levels greater than 90 ppm, with 41 percent of paints containing extremely high levels of lead above 100,000 ppm.
“Our studies indicate that decorative architectural paints with extremely high levels of lead are still available for sale on the market. Together, we call on the Government of Indonesia to adopt and enforce a strong regulation that will ban the use of lead in all types of paints,” said Yuyun Ismawati, Executive Director, Nexus3 Foundation.
“Safe, cost-effective alternatives to lead compounds are available for all types of paints. Many paint manufacturers here and abroad have stopped using lead additives on a voluntary basis,” said Jeiel Guarino, Global Lead Paint Elimination Campaigner, IPEN.
Nexus for Health, Environment and Development Foundation or Nexus3, works to safeguard the public, especially vulnerable population, from the impacts of development to health and the environment, towards a just, toxics-free and sustainable future. Nexus3 formerly known as BaliFokus, conducted the first project on lead paint elimination in Indonesia in 2012-2015 with the funding support from SWITCH Asia and IPEN. Since 2012, BaliFokus/Nexus3 also participated in the Global Week of Action to raise public awareness regarding lead in paint.