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A Toxics-Free Future


Lead in Paint

As Miremba enters her classroom in the morning, little does she know that the walls of the one place that should help her secure a better future are, in fact, poisoning it. As she playfully chips the hallway paint before going into class, she exposes herself, and her fellow schoolmates, to the irreversible toxic effects of lead.

Experts yesterday called for urgent formation of regulations to ban lead content in household paints. The call came at a workshop organised by the Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO) at its Mohammadpur headquarters.

The Caribbean Poison Information Network (CarPIN) is calling for regulations or legislation that will place a limit on lead paint in Jamaica.

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.

Paint Labeled “Lead Free” Contained 130,000 ppm Lead

en español

Guadalajara, México. A new study on lead in architectural decorative paints sold for home use in México released today by Casa Cem and IPEN finds that more than one-fourth of the paints analyzed contained dangerously high total lead content greater than 10,000 parts per million (ppm). The maximum permissible limit on lead in paint in e.g. USA and Canada is 90 ppm—the same threshold recommended by the UN Environment Programme. One yellow paint from the brand, General Paint, contained the highest amount of lead at 200,000 ppm. Moreover, a yellow paint from the brand, Pinturas y Matices, labeled as “lead-free” contained 130,000 ppm lead.

“Exposure to lead even at low levels has irreversible and lifelong impacts to children, especially those aged six years and below—the critical age for brain development,” said Sofia Chávez, General Director of Casa Cem. “We must eliminate this perilous source of lead exposure to young children to protect their intellectual growth and maximize our nation’s future intellectual capacity. This can be done now since safe and effective alternatives to lead are already in use and generally available in México.”

Baghdad, Iraq. The first study on lead content in Iraqi paints for home use was released today by Together to Protect Human & the Environment Association (Together) and IPEN, with facilitation of the Ministry of Health & Environment. It reveals that more than 70 percent of the analyzed paint brands sold one or more paint that contained total lead concentrations exceeding 90 parts per million (ppm)—the maximum allowed limit in e.g., the United States, India and Kenya, and also the limit recommended by the UN Environment Programme for all paint. Furthermore, a yellow Al-Marjan Gloss Enamel Paint contained the highest amount of lead at 110,000 ppm.

“The exposure to lead, even at low levels, affects a child’s brain development leading to lasting effects throughout life such as lower IQ, poorer performance in school, and impulsive and violent behavior,” said Saadia Hassoon, Chairman, Together. “Such effects impacts work performance in the long term, so there is no better time to act but now. Otherwise, we will imperil our children’s intellectual growth and consequently reduce Iraq’s future intellectual capacity and economic success even though safe and effective alternatives are already in use and widely available. It is therefore important to eliminate this dangerous source of lead exposure to young children.”