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A Toxics-Free Future


New Report on Lead Levels in Paints in Seven Asian Countries

EU-Funded Study Finds High Lead Levels in Paints

Children Ages 0-6 Risk Permanent and Lifelong Damage

[Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia] The majority of household paints analyzed in seven Asian countries contain unsafe levels of lead; would not meet regulatory standards established in most highly industrialized countries; and, in a number of cases, have astonishingly high lead content, according to a new report. The Asia Regional Paint Report will be released on March 23, 2014 by IPEN and partner organizations in the seven countries at the 4th Asia-Pacific Regional meeting of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) convened by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

“It is well established that there is no safe blood level of lead, especially for children and developing fetuses, so it is very shocking to find such high levels of lead in paints being sold throughout Asia,” said Hemantha Withanage, Project Manager for the IPEN Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project.

“Safe, cost effective alternatives to lead have been in use for many years, so there is absolutely no reason for continuing to add lead to paint products in Asia,” added Manny Calonzo, Southeast Asian Specialist for the IPEN Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project.

The Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project is being implemented by IPEN in seven countries (Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand) with European Union (EU) funding of EUR 1.4 million.

The Asia Regional Paint Report provides findings from an analysis of 803 oil-based enamel decorative paints: Bangladesh (90 paints), India (250 paints), Indonesia (78 paints), Nepal (49 paints), Philippines (122 paints), Sri Lanka (94 paints), and Thailand (120 paints).

Key findings include:

  • More than three-quarters of the paints analyzed contained lead levels above 90 parts per million (ppm) and would not be permitted for sale in most industrialized countries.

  • At least a quarter of all paints from all countries contained extremely dangerous levels of lead above 10,000 ppm.

  • Overall, brightly colored paints (red, yellow) contained the highest lead levels.

  • Major paint brands that contained high levels of lead in previously conducted studies in these same countries now have levels below 90 ppm.

  • Paints with low levels of lead were available in all markets at prices comparable to the leaded products, suggesting that the technology exists to produce cost effective, lead-safe products.

  • None of the paint cans containing lead stated this on the label or explained the hazards associated with lead.

IPEN Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project Contacts

Manny Calonzo, Southeast Asia Specialist

+632-4411846 / / Skype: mannycalonzo

Sara Brosché, Project Manager

+46 31 7995900 / / Skype: sara.ipen

Hemantha Withanage, Project Supervisor

00 94 (31) 225 7862 / / Skype: hemanthawithanage

Valerie Denney, Communications Specialist

+1 312-320-2162 / / Skype: Valerie.denney