More than 73% of household decorative paints, sold in different parts of the capital, have been found with lead content much higher than permissible levels in a recent study conducted by Toxic Links — a Delhi-based NGO in association with International POPS Elimination Network (IPEN).
The findings are quite scary as lead — exposure to which is known to impair a child’s brain development and cause behavioral changes — at high levels of exposure can do irreversible damage to the brain and central nervous system. The study also found that most of the violations were being done by paints produced by small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs).
Overall, 11 out of 15 paints from 13 different brands that were analysed, contained exceedingly high lead levels. What’s more, the can labels of these 11 paints also did not bear any consumer information about lead content.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has set the mandatory lead limits of 90ppm in household paints which will come into effect next month. But there is a huge gap between the standards and the actual lead content of paints selling in the market. Paints with unusually high lead concentrations, i.e. above 10,000ppm was found in six paint samples. The highest lead concentration detected was a staggering 74,200ppm in a yellow paint sold in Delhi.
The main victims of these violations are tha hapless children who ingest or inhale lead through exposure to dust or soil contaminated with lead-based paint. “The health impacts of lead exposure on young children’s intelligence are lifelong, irreversible and untreatable,” said Satish Sinha, associate director, Toxics Link.
The study by Toxic Links also found low lead content in one sample which indicates SMEs have the potential to make lead safe paints. The report was released as a part of worldwide activities to mark the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action.