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A Toxics-Free Future


IPEN POs Contribute to 2020 Global Action to Hasten Phase-Out of Lead in Paints

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, 41 IPEN participating organizations (POs) from 36 countries participated in the 8th edition of the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week on October 25 to 31, 2020. Civil society groups conducted activities, including policy meetings, public information dissemination and media outreach, to push for the adoption and/or enforcement of strong lead paint laws. The week-long campaign led by the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint (Lead Paint Alliance), which includes IPEN and several of its POs from low- and middle-income countries, seeks to hasten progress toward the goal of phasing out lead paint across the globe through regulatory and legal measures.

Anglophone Africa

YVE representatives meet the press to make a pitch for banning lead paints in The Gambia.

GAMBIA: The Young Volunteers for the Environment (YVE) organized a media campaign to promote “Lead-Free Paints in The Gambia for a Healthy Future.” Through a press conference and through its guesting in five radio programs and one TV talk show, the YVE emphasized the urgency of adopting a national legislation that will eliminate lead paints in the country.

KENYA: The Centre for Environment Justice and Development (CEJAD) disseminated information about the health impacts of lead exposure and promoted the implementation of lead paint standards in Kenya and East Africa through outdoor banners and social media. CEJAD’s Griffins Ochieng also spoke at the East Africa regional webinar hosted by the Department of Chemistry, University of Nairobi where he made a presentation on “Advocating for Regulation of Lead Paint in Kenya.”

NIGERIA: The Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development (SRADev) hosted the launch of the SAICM GEF country project toward the elimination of lead in paint in Nigeria. The event was attended in person and virtually by the representatives of the Federal Ministries of Environment, Health, Industry, Trade and Investment, other government agencies, paint manufacturers, international organizations, IPEN and other civil society groups. While the event was held on November 19-20, SRADev spent much of the preparatory activities in October. Under the project, SRADev will work with small and medium-sized paint enterprises or manufacturers to facilitate advice on paint reformulation and access to lead-free paint materials, as well as liaise with the Nigerian stakeholders.

Team AGENDA for a lead-free Tanzania.

TANZANIA: The Agenda for Environment and Responsible Development (AGENDA) met with key stakeholders to discuss the successes, challenges and opportunities arising from the adoption in 2017 of the lead paint standards for decorative paints. Among the groups that AGENDA met during the period were the leaders and representatives of the Tanzania Bureau of Standards; Government Chemist Laboratory Authority; National Environment Management Council; Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture; and the Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society.

ZAMBIA: The Children’s Environmental Health Foundation (CEHF) launched the “Safe Paint Zambia” led by the country’s president in conjunction with the national Independence Day celebration. This initiative provided opportunities to inform and engage high level decision makers on the need to enact a lead paint law in Zambia.

Francophone Africa

GAPROFFA gathers stakeholders to step up drive for lead-safe paints in Benin.

BENIN: The Action Group for the Promotion and Protection of Flora and Fauna (GAPROFFA) hosted a stakeholders’ meeting to discuss the dangers of lead poisoning, the lead content of analyzed paints and the need for a binding regulation to ban lead paints in Benin. Agents of paint manufacturers, the spokesperson of building painters, the representative of paint consumers and members of GAPROFFA attended the event.

BENIN: The ONG La Grande Puissance de Dieu tapped social media to draw attention to the problem with lead-containing paints and to encourage the government and the private sector to support a binding regulation against lead paint in Benin.

CAMEROON: The Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE) conducted awareness raising activities about the impacts of lead exposure to human health, as well the requirements of the country’s lead paint regulation adopted in 2018.

COTE D’IVOIRE: The Jeunes Volontaires pour l'Environnement (JVE) organized a workshop that aims to strengthen strategic actions to accelerate the signing of a proposed legislation governing chemicals, including lead in paint, in Côte d'Ivoire. Through a press release, the group reminded the authorities to eliminate the use of lead paints to protect the health of children, women, and the most vulnerable segments of the population.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: The Front Commun Pour la Conservation de l’Environnement et des Espaces Protegés organized a round-table discussion attended by various stakeholders to promote lead paint regulation in the country.

A Carbone Guinee campaigner talks about the reasons for phasing out lead paint in a radio program.

GUINEE: The Carbone Guinee shared information about the presence of lead in paints sold in the country and to encourage stakeholders, particularly those from the government, to understand the problem and support the adoption of a national lead paint regulation as soon as possible.

Mediterranean and North Africa

BAHRAIN: The Friends of the Environment sponsored an awareness raising day for school children regarding the hazards of lead in paint.

IRAQ: The Al-Rafidain Center for Health Development organized a webinar to raise awareness about lead and the adverse effects of lead exposure, the lead content of paints sold in Iraq and the progress in upgrading the country’s lead paint standard and regulation. The event drew the participation of doctors, environmental experts, representatives of the paint industry and NGOs from the IPEN network.

JORDAN: The Land and Human to Advocate Progress (LHAP) raised public awareness on lead paint issues and concerns using the electronic media. A Zoom meeting brought concerned parties together to discuss progress in adopting lead paint legislation in the country. Among those who took part in the meeting were Dr. Mohammad Khashashneh, Secretary General of the Ministry of Environment and Dr. Ibrahim Bani Hani, former parliamentarian and member of the Commission of Health and Environment.

LEBANON: The Human Environmental Association for Development (HEAD) raised awareness on the problems with lead paint and the need to adopt a lead paint regulation through a virtual Zoom meeting involving 131 attendees from the Ministry of Industry, Lebanese Standards Institution, Association of Lebanese Industrialists, Arab Network for Environment and Development, Youth of Red Cross in Byblos and other cities, Lebanese Green Party and other groups from Lebanon and neighboring countries such as Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.

Dr. Naima Rhalem of AMSETOX briefs attendees on the lead paint situation in Morocco.

MOROCCO: The Moroccan Association of Environmental Health and Toxicovigilance (AMSETOX) wrote to the Ministry of Health and to the Ministry of Industry and Trade to expedite the issuance of a decree obliging manufacturers to apply the Moroccan standard NM 03.3.318, released in June 2020, which limits the lead content in all paints to 90 ppm. Together with the Ministry of Industry and Trade, AMSETOX co-organized an orientation meeting with paint manufacturers, which resulted in an important decision to issue the decree by the end of 2020. The group further wrote to the Ministry of Education to propose a lead-free space for students for better children’s health.

TUNISIA: The Association d'Education Environnementale pour les Futures Générations (AEEFG) organized an awareness-raising session on lead paint for interested individuals via Facebook live. During the week, the group also shared publications on the health effects of lead exposure and the need to ban lead in paint.

Latin America and the Caribbean

COLOMBIA: Aside from disseminating information through the website of the Sustainable Development Network, the Asociación Colnodo conducted an online event to discuss the promotion of a new law adopted by Congress regulating the use of lead in Colombia. Government officials from the Ministries of Environment and Sustainable Development and Health actively participated in the discussion.

JAMAICA: The Caribbean Poison Information Network (CARPIN) organized a webinar entitled “Preventing Lead in Paint Exposure: Applicable Interventions.” The webinar highlighted the need to prevent childhood lead exposure, including the adoption of regulatory measures banning lead in all paints. Speakers from Jamaica, Cameroon, Mexico and the Philippines shared their research and campaign experiences toward the elimination of lead in paints.

Casa Cem publishes a guide on how to safely repaint lead coated playground equipment.

MEXICO: Casa Cem held two webinars to present and promote the “Guideline for Repainting Lead-Containing Playground Equipment” and to publicly announce the playground equipment repainting project in Guadalajara´s metropolitan area. As a result of the group’s advocacy, a public commitment was secured from seven local paint companies (Química Marél, Pinturas Piravi, Pinturas alsa, Pinturas PRISA, Pinturas KiLKER, Pinturas HERA, and Pinturas VALMEX) and from the municipal authorities of Guadalajara and Zapopan to repaint the lead painted playground equipment in eight parks.

MEXICO: CILAS produced a 5:21 minute animated short film entitled “Por Una Ceramica Mexicana sin Plomo” (For a Lead-Free Mexican Ceramics) to generate awareness and support for a lead-free pottery in Mexico in order to prevent lead-based hazards affecting artisans, their families and communities and their food, as well as their users at all levels. CILAS used Vimeo’s platform to distribute the original version in Spanish and YouTube for the English subtitled version, which together got more than 900 views in over 20 countries.

Southeast and East Asia

Gita Pertiwi campaigns for healthy canteens and lead-free schools in Indonesia.

INDONESIA: Gita Pertiwi, in collaboration with the Surakarta City Government, organized a series of activities, including a focus group discussion, Vlog competition and media outreach, to educate teachers, school committees, canteen managers and other stakeholders on the impact of lead paint in schools buildings and canteens and the need to prohibit the use of lead paint in schools.

INDONESIA: The Nexus3 Foundation organized an online campaign, press conference and webinar around the theme of “Lead Safe Paints to Protect Our Children - Strict Regulation and Responsible Business to Protect 32 Million Indonesian Children.” Nexus3 launched a petition urging the government to develop a strong and protective regulation on lead-free paint. Addressed to President Joko Widodo, the Ministers of Environment and Forestry, Trade and Finance, and the head of the National Standardization Agency, the petition, among other things, called for a prohibition on the importation of lead-based pigments, dryers and other leaded raw materials for the paint and coating industry.

CAP researcher Mageswari Sangaralingam presents new data on lead content of spray paints in Malaysia.

MALAYSIA: The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) advocated for a legislation banning lead in paint through social media and a press conference. During the press event, CAP released newly generated data on the lead content of spray paints sold in the state of Penang and online. Out of 48 samples, 12 spray paints were found to contain lead in excess of 90 ppm of which two had lead levels greater than 10,000 ppm.

PHILIPPINES: Inspired by the theme “Forging Ahead for a Lead-Safe Davao City,” the Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) conducted a blended roundtable discussion about the city’s Lead-Safe Paint Ordinance and related policy issuances with 61 participants. Speakers include Councilor Pilar Braga, main author of the ordinance, Engr. Jason Henderin of the Environmental Management Bureau XI, Atty. Junitte Rose Baroquillo of the Commission on Human Rights, Rene Agbayani of the Department of Education XI, and Jeiel Guarino of IPEN. IDIS also prepared five infographics, which were posted online to promote the event, as well as to raise public awareness on lead poisoning prevention.

PHILIPPINES: The EcoWaste Coalition and the International Pollutants Elimination Network - Southeast and East Asia (IPEN-SEA) co-organized a global webinar called "D-Tox" on the theme “Environmental Neurotoxins: Impacts of Fetal and Early Childhood Exposure.” The event highlighted the need to protect children’s brain development from lead and other toxic chemicals that can irreparably harm their health and dim their hope for a brighter future. Resource persons Dr. Bruce Lanphear and Dr. Sara Brosche both stressed the importance of concerted, decisive and urgent action to prevent exposures to such chemicals blamed for learning and developmental disabilities among children. The webinar attracted close to 100 Zoom attendees and 400 Facebook live streaming viewers from 15 countries.

VIETNAM: The Research Centre for Gender, Family and Environment in Development (CGFED) produced a series of mass media and social media products to promote awareness about the newly drafted Vietnam regulation on lead paint among the people and paint producers.

South Asia

Youth environmental warriors march for total lead paint ban in Bangladesh.

BANGLADESH: The Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO) organized three major activities to celebrate the ILPPW: a creative art and essay writing competition, a human chain and rally, and a high-level policy meeting, which emphasized the need to ban all kinds of leaded paints in Bangladesh. Representatives of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change; Department of Environment; Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institutions; and the Bangladesh Paint Manufacturers' Association; as well as the ESDO technical advisors and staff and the media, participated in the meeting. The human chain and rally led by young environmental activists attracted wide media coverage.

INDIA: The Arulagam raised public awareness about lead in paints through a social media campaign that got 26,426 Facebook hits and reached 210 WhatsApp groups. The group also campaigned against lead in paints through a mobile van fitted with a digital display. The campaign vehicle traveled for about 350 kilometers in Erode, Coimbatore and Nilgiris districts, reaching approximately 65,000 people. The group also published leaflets about the ill effects of lead exposure in Tamil language.

Toxics Link raises concern over poor compliance to India's lead paint regulation.

INDIA: The Toxics Link (TL) conducted a webinar about lead in paint and lead poisoning prevention with participants from the government, industry, civil society, and the media. Aside from the social media campaign and poster competition for school children, TL also published a report on lead in paint compliance issues in India, which raises concern about the availability of lead-containing paints across India even after the country’s rules on the use of lead in paints came into effect from November 2017.

NEPAL: The Center for Public Health and Environmental Development (CEPHED) organized a series of national and provincial level awareness raising, capacity building and advocacy activities under the theme “Prevention of Lead Exposure and Effective implementation of Lead Paint Standards in Nepal.” The activities were undertaken with the support of the WHO Country Office and the Government of Nepal, including the Ministry of Health and Population, Ministry of Forest and Environment, and other federal agencies, and various provincial governments.

SRI LANKA: The Centre for Environment Justice (CEJ) organized a social media campaign to gather people’s attention on lead poisoning and prevention, as well as a round-table discussion involving government, industry, and civil society representatives to discuss the implementation of regulations controlling lead in paints.

Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA)

ARMENIA: The Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment (AWHHE) extended its awareness raising campaign on the health hazards of lead in paint in the provinces of Aragatsotn, Gegharkunik and Shirak. Through Facebook, Viber and the websites of participating schools, AWHHE was able to share information to the administrators, teachers, students and parents of 10 target schools in the said provinces.

AZERBAIJAN: The Ecological Society “Ruzgar” raised awareness among stakeholders about the harmful effects of lead in paints on the health of the population, and organized a consultation meeting to develop a proposal for the adoption of a legislative act on lead in paints.

A Georgian girl makes a stance for a lead-free, healthy future.

GEORGIA: The NGO “Gamarjoba” launched a public information campaign entitled “Take Over Lead in Georgia” that attracted over 300,000 people via social media. A public discussion was held on the issue of lead and the importance of a lead paint law. A survey conducted via Google shows that the majority of Georgians consider the lead problem deserving special attention and support the adoption of a law. The survey results were presented to the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health of Georgia, as well as to the Georgian Parliament.

KAZAKHSTAN: The Association “Greenwomen” organized an awareness raising campaign for women and youth through social media, which also highlighted the citizens’ right to influence government action toward the elimination of lead in paint. More than 700 people received the information shared by Greenwomen, including many Facebook and Instagram subscribers. The group also used the occasion to provide information to governmental bodies, including the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Industry and Infrastructure Development, and relevant committees.

MOLDOVA: With “Protect your family from lead exposure at home” as the campaign theme, the NGO “EcoContact” disseminated information on preventing lead exposure during the refurbishment of residences, especially of old apartments and houses decorated with lead-based paints during the Soviet era, that benefited some 136,335 citizens from 35 villages. Brochures delving on lead toxicity, routes of exposure and lead poisoning prevention at home were prepared and distributed through 36 public institutions and three national NGOs. The group likewise reviewed existing norms and standards governing lead in paint in Moldova.

RUSSIA: The Eco-Accord organized a webinar on “Lead in Paint Elimination: For People’s Health and Sustainable Development” to discuss the status of the development and approval of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) Technical Regulations on the Safety of Paints, to analyze the challenges and opportunities for its adoption and enforcement and to agree of ways forward. The webinar drew 38 participants representing the Russian governmental agencies, Russian paint manufacturers, the Eurasian Economic Commission and NGOs from Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA).

Tajik students and teachers join global action to phase out lead paints.

TAJIKISTAN: The Foundation for Support of Civil Initiatives (FSCI, Dastgiri Center) organized a seminar in Dushanbe City that was attended by teachers and students from the faculty of chemistry, Tajik National University. Among the topics covered were the health effects of lead exposure, especially on children, the results of FSCI’s monitoring of the sale of lead-containing paints in the country’s retail network, and the task of developing the technical regulations for paint and varnish products, which is targeted for submission to the Government of Tajikistan by December 2020. At the end of the seminar, a video film about the FSCI’s research on lead in paints was shown.

Young Ukrainians welcome efforts to ban lead-containing paints.

UKRAINE: The Chemical Safety Agency (CSA) organized educational events benefitting more than 1,700 participants, including students, parents, and teachers, in Kyiv and Kharkiv who gained new knowledge about the negative effects of lead in paints on human health and the environment. Aside from school outreach and media activities, the CSA worked with the authorities in the drafting of the Technical Regulation Establishing Lead Content Limits in Paint. As a result of its close collaboration with the authorities, a Memorandum of Cooperation between the CSA and the State Institution “O.M. Marzieiev Institute for Public Health” NAMSU was signed on the issue of banning the use of lead in paints.

Central and Eastern Europe

ALBANIA: The Eden Center organized a digital awareness campaign around the theme “I choose a life without lead” to attract public interest on lead and lead poisoning prevention, and to encourage the government to align the national regulation on lead with that of the European legislation.