Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Centre orders curbs on usage of lead in paints --- Studies find majority of samples have high toxic levels

By Udumula Sudhakar Reddy

With research showing excessive use of lead in paints used in households, Ministry of Environment and Forest has issued orders regulating it to 90 parts per million.

It was found that most of small and medium scale manufactures having 30 per cent of paint market use high quantity of lead in paintings particularly enamel paintings. Studies in Telangana, AP and Maharasthra found a majority of samples have high toxic levels of lead.

According to MoEF joint secretary Mr Bishwanath Sinha, draft rules have been issued to regulate the manufacture, trade, use, import and export of lead contents in household and decorative paints. The rules are called Regulation on Lead Contents in Household and Decorative Paints Rules, 2016.

Rules that prohibit the use of metallic lead state that any manufacture, trade, import and export of household and decorative paints hereinafter referred to as product containing metallic lead exceeding 90 parts per million is hereby prohibited.

The Bureau of Indian Standards will be the nodal agency for the purposes of these rules and will implement the provisions of these rules. The manufacturer or importer of the product is required to label its product stating that the lead content does not exceed 90 ppm and such labelling shall be durable and legible. Manufacturers are also required to submit samples to the nodal agency at regular intervals for testing.

A study conducted by researchers Abhay Kumar and Perry Gottesfeld, titled “Lead content in household paints in India”and published in Pubmed revealed that lead and its compounds are used in paints not only to impart colour but also to make it durable, corrosion resistant and to improve drying.

Adverse health impacts of lead especially on children have prompted countries to restrict or ban its use in paints. While U.S. and other developed countries have instituted measures to limit the use of lead in paints, some developing countries including India have failed to regulate their lead content. A total of 69 paint samples (38 latex and 31 enamel samples) from six of the most popular brands were analysed for lead concentrations, the study said.

While all latex paint samples contained low levels of lead, enamel paint samples of all but one brand contained significant concentrations of lead, ranging up to 140,000 ppm. In fact 84 per cent of enamel paints tested exceeded 600 ppm whereas only 38 percent of all samples (including latex and enamel types) exceeded this regulatory level.

Another study “National Report: Lead in Enamel Household Paints in India in 2015” says a total of 101 cans of new enamel decorative paints were purchased in Delhi-NCR, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Telangana, AP and Gujarat in India and analysed for their lead content.

Very high lead concentrations above 10,000 ppm were found in 14 of the 31 paints analysed (45 percent of the paints); 26 of the paints contained lead levels above 600 ppm (84 percent of the paints) and 29 of the paints contained concentrations above 90 ppm (94percent of the paints). Only two of the 31 paints would qualify for sale on the international market, this study said.

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