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A Toxics-Free Future


Study Shows Jamaican Decorative Paints Virtually Lead-Free

Imported Automotive Paint Manufactured by PPG Contained 150,000 ppm Lead

Kingston, Jamaica. Nearly all paints in a new study analyzing lead in solvent-based paints in Jamaica contained total lead content below 90 parts per million (ppm)—the maximum allowable limit on lead in paint in the USA and Canada, and the same threshold recommended by the UN Environment Programme. However, one yellow automotive industrial paint from the brand, OMNI Mae, manufactured by PPG Paints in the USA, contained the highest amount of lead at 150,000 ppm. These and other findings are part of the report released today by the Caribbean Poison Information Network (CARPIN) and IPEN.

“Young children ages six years and under, whose brain development is at its critical phase, are generally vulnerable to the permanent and lifelong health consequences of exposure to lead,” says Sherika Whitelocke-Ballingsingh, Poison Information Coordinator, CARPIN. “Our study demonstrates that safe and effective alternatives to lead are already in use and widely available in Jamaica, except for industrial paints, therefore, we advocate for the total elimination of this dangerous source of childhood lead exposure. For instance, while a sticker on the OMNI Mae paint can indicates that the paint is “leaded” and the label shows a warning stating, “not intended for household use,” the automotive paint was sold over the counter without guidance or instructions from the retailer about its usage.

“Lead paint is a major source of childhood lead poisoning and there are no known safe levels of exposure,” said Dr. Sara Brosché, Global Lead Paint Elimination Campaign Manager, IPEN. “While the Jamaican study shows that decorative paints for home use are generally not manufactured with added lead, there are strong indications that industrial paints that often contain dangerously high levels of lead are easily available for sale in retail stores. Together with CARPIN, we call on the Government of Jamaica to adopt and enforce strong regulatory and import controls on lead in all types of paints, including decorative, architectural and industrial paints.”

From July 2018 to September 2018, CARPIN purchased a total of 36 cans of solvent-based paint intended for home use representing 15 brands produced by seven manufacturers from various stores in Kingston and St. Catherine, Jamaica. Most brands were locally manufactured in Jamaica, while a couple of brands were imported from Trinidad & Tobago and the USA. Samples from these paints were analyzed by an accredited laboratory in the USA for total lead content.

Key findings from the report, Lead in Solvent-Based Paints for Home Use in Jamaica, include:

  • Of the 36 analyzed solvent-based paints, 31 were decorative household paints, four were anti-corrosive paints, and one was an automotive industrial paint.
  • All 35 analyzed solvent-based paints intended for home use contained lead concentrations below 90 ppm.
  • The yellow automotive industrial paint from the brand, OMNI Mae, contained 150,000 ppm of lead. Manufactured by PPG Paints USA and imported into Jamaica, the paint had a warning on the label stating, “leaded” and “for professional use only—not intended for household use.”
  • Few paints (14 percent) provided information about lead on their labels, but no precautionary warnings on the effects of lead dust to children and pregnant women were provided.

There is currently no regulation that limits the use of lead in paint in Jamaica. Most highly industrial countries adopted laws or regulations to control the lead content of decorative paints—the paints used on the interiors and exteriors of homes, schools, and other child-occupied facilities—beginning in the 1970s and 1980s. In Asia and Africa, many countries have adopted new strong regulatory controls over the past ten years. In addition, more countries like the Philippines, Nepal, Cameroon and Ethiopia, are banning lead use in all types of paint, including industrial and automotive paints.

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. WHO further states that “there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe.”[1]

Key recommendations made in the report include:

  • Government: For the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation to immediately establish a regulation that will ban the manufacture, import, export, distribution, sale and use of all paints (including industrial and automotive paints) that contain total lead concentrations exceeding 90 ppm. Policies to ensure that industrial paint is only available for purchase and use by relevant industry representatives should be adopted. Sanctions should be imposed on non-compliant companies in adherence to standardized labeling as stipulated by the government.
  • Industry: Paint companies that have shifted to non-lead paint production should get their products certified through independent, third party verification procedures to increase the customer´s ability to choose paints with no added lead. Paint vendors should have the required technical knowledge to guide consumers on the intended usage of paints and consequent risk of exposure to toxic chemicals. Paints for industrial use must be lead-safe and must carry distinct labels easily visible to consumers indicating its usage.
  • Consumers: Purchase and use paints with no added lead, especially in places frequently used by children such as homes, schools, day care centers, parks and playgrounds, and demand full disclosure of a paint product’s content.


About IPEN

IPEN is a global non-government organization (NGO) with participating organizations in more than 100 countries working for a toxics-free future. It has conducted studies of lead in paint in more than 50 countries and is a member of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint Advisory Group. For information, visit


The Caribbean Poison Information Network (CARPIN) is located at the University of Technology, Jamaica. It is a thirteen-year-old multi-sectorial initiative amongst several stakeholders in the health and education sectors. Officially launched during the inaugural Poison Prevention Week in May 2005, CARPIN envisions itself to be the repository of poison information and a catalyst for poison prevention within the Caribbean Region. Its mission includes preventing poisonings through public education, providing poison information to all clients in a timely manner, advocating for policies that will protect the health and welfare of the most vulnerable and at-risk populations to poisonings, and working with stakeholders to build regional cooperation in poison prevention and management. For more information, visit  


For More Information:

Sherika Whitelocke-Ballingsingh, CARPIN, 8769271680,

Sara Brosché, IPEN, +46 31 7995900,

Jeiel Guarino, IPEN, +46 31 7995930,

[1] World Health Organization. Lead poisoning and health (2015). Available from: