Maximum lead content in paint gazetted
October 14, 2011, 9:08 pm
By Ifham Nizam
Under a Gazette notification, the Consumer Authority of Sri Lanka has set guidelines to the manufacturers and importers of paints regarding the lead content of their products. Sri Lanka is one of the countries which has high lead levels.
The Consumer Affairs Authority published the standards for lead in paints in response to the Fundamental Rights application filed by the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) in the Supreme Court on February 14, 2011. The Island broke the story regarding the high Lead level found in paints used in Sri Lanka.
The Gazette states that no manufacturer, importer, packer, distributor or trader shall manufacture, import and use or distribute, pack, store or sell or display for sale, expose for sale or offer for sale, wholesale or retail any paints unless such paints shall conform to the corresponding Total Lead Content given hereunder as specified by the Sri Lanka Standard Institution for such paints.
Permissible maximum lead content Paints for toys and accessories for children (soluble in HCI acid) 90 mg/kg, Enamel Paints 600 mg/kg, Emulsion Paints for Exterior use 90 mg/kg, Emulsion Paints for Interior use 90 mg/kg and Floor Paints 600 mg/kg.
In the application, CEJ Executive Director, Hemantha Withanage and Legal Officer Ms. Nilmal Wickramasinghe sought the Consumer Affairs Authority and others to formulate suitable regulations to compel the manufacturers and distributors to comply with the international standards relating to the presence of lead in paints considering the serious health impacts caused by adding lead to decorative paints.
The Secretary-Ministry of Co-operatives and Internal Trade, Director General-Consumer Affairs Authority, Consumer Affairs Authority, Secretary-Ministry of Health, Secretary-Ministry of Science and Technology, Sri Lanka Standards Institution, Central Environmental Authority, and the Attorney General were cited as the Respondents.
As pleaded, Consumer Affairs Authority has published a Government Gazette Extra Ordinary No 1725/30 on September 30, 2011 regulating permissible maximum lead content on the following paints and accessories to come into effect from January 1, 2013.
Lead in paints is highly toxics to the human, especially to the children below eight years. It has impacts on over 40 million children worldwide, more than 97 per cent of those who live in developing countries.
In 2002, the United Nations sponsored World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) committed to take actions to protect human health from exposure to lead.
Paragraph 57 of the Plan of Implementation of the WSSD states: “Phase out lead in lead-based paints and in other sources of human exposure, work to prevent,in particular, children’s exposure to lead and strengthen monitoring and surveillance efforts and the treatment of lead poisoning.”
The global scientific study “Lead in New Decorative Paints” carried out by CEJ and Toxics Link in collaboration with International POPs Elimination Network(IPEN) found that one Sri Lankan Enamel Paint sample contained 137,325 ppm –Parts Per Million- lead which is 228 times greater than 600 ppm, the level indicated in the recent gazette. Other tested enamel samples contained high levels such as 133463, 55237, 21116, 20904 ppm etc.
Withanage said “the standards just established is a great achievement for the consumers who get contaminated every minute due to unknown toxics in the consumer products such as decorative paints at home, in the school or in the work place”.