SRADev seeks phase-out of lead-containing paints in Nigeria
AMID the study that Nigeria paints showed highest percentage of samples containing more than 90 parts per million (ppm) of lead than other countries in Africa, an environmental group, Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development (SRADev Nigeria) has called of urgent adoption of a national mandatory policy that will phase out the manufacture and sale of paints containing lead, a major source of childhood lead poisoning along with lead-contaminated dust.
The group in a statement issued to mark this year’s International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action (ILLPPWA) sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), pressed for local measures to complement the global goal of phasing out of lead paint by 2020.
WHO estimates that childhood lead exposure to contribute to about 600 000 new cases of children with intellectual disabilities every year. Children are most likely to be exposed to lead from ingestion of flakes and dust from decaying lead-based paint, which, affecting children’s brain development and their measurable level of intelligence (IQ).
Many other health effects such as: gastrointestinal effects, anaemia, hypertension and hearing loss, effects on the nervous system such as on behaviour and cognition), on development, and on the reproductive system, as well as genotoxicity, carcinogenicity and social effects have been associated with lead exposure.
According to the study of new household paints sold in Lagos carried out by SRADev Nigeria in collaboration with International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN), Out of the 10 developing countries from where paint samples were collected and analysed for total lead contents, Nigeria paints showed highest percentage of samples containing more than 90 ppm of lead followed by Tanzania, Mexico, South Africa, Belarus, Senegal and values more than 600ppm were even found (100per cent of the samples).
“All samples had lead concentrations higher than the permitted lead levels for paints (that is far beyond the recommended limit of 90 ppm). Despite this alarming situation, till date, Nigeria has no standard or legal limit for lead in paints. The general public is at the mercy of paint manufacturers. In May 2009, at the Second International Conference on Chemicals Management, Nigeria was among more than 100 countries that endorsed a Global Partnership to Eliminate Lead from Paint,” said Leslie Adogame, Executive Director, SRADev Nigeria.
He said: “It’s essential for our society to respond to this global challenge and make the phase out of lead paint a top public health priority. We must act with urgency as the health of our children can be permanently and irreversibly damaged even at very low exposures to lead.
“Europe banned lead in paint in the 1920s. What are we waiting for when safer alternatives are available? We need to protect our children and eliminate lead from paint and we can only hope that the paint manufacturers embrace in interim a voluntary approach,” he said.
The Paint Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (PMAN) is a member of the International Paint and Printing Ink Council (IPPIC), which is in turn a contributor to the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, established by the United Nations and World Health Organisation. WHO, which considers lead as one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern,” has stated “there is no safe level of exposure to lead.”
“Safe, cost-effective alternatives to lead in paint have been in use for more than 40 years in the United States, the European Union and other high income countries,” said Dr. Sara Brosche, International Lead Paint Elimination Project Manager at IPEN, a global civil society network pursuing safe chemicals policies and practices.