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A Toxics-Free Future

Lead paint lowers children’s IQ and it carries lifelong health risks – experts

By Gilbert Koech

Many Kenyan childen could becomementally stunted and unable to respond to basic instructions because of exposure to lead paints.

Lead poisoning among children can have lifelong health risks, including learning disabilities, anaemia and disorders in coordination, visual and language skills.

This revelation was made on Saturday during the third United Nations Environment Assembly in Gigiri, Nairobi.

Experts said lead lowers the intelligence quotient. IQ is a total score derived from several standardised tests to assess human intelligence.

Director of the office of global affairs and policy Walker Smith expressed concern at the lack of awareness of the paints laced with lead.

“The next generation of children needs to be protected, as lead paints will have an effect on their IQ,” she warned, adding laws must be put in place to control leaded paints.

Thousands of children in Kenya are exposed to decorative paints containing illegal amounts of lead.

This is based on a study in Kenya by IPEN, an international lobby that promotes use of safe chemicals, and the Kenya-based Centre for Environment Justice and Development .

UNEA-3 aims to deliver commitments to end pollution of air, land, waterways and oceans. It seeks to safely manage chemicals and waste through a negotiated long-term programme linked to the Sustainable Development Goals.

More than half of all decorative paints analysed in Kenya and 14 other African countries contain lead levels, which are illegal in most developed countries.

IPEN is a local lobby advocating for the phase-out of lead paints.

Few paints carry consumer information about the lead content or the dangers associated with exposure.

Manufacturers add lead to paint to speed up drying, increase durability, maintain a fresh appearance and resist moisture that causes corrosion.