Saturday, February 13, 2010

Deadly lead in all house paints available in Sri Lanka

Hemantha Withanage

Science still does not play its role in protecting people. Among various cases a study found that new household paints sold in Sri Lanka contained large amount of deadly lead. Those decorative paints with Yellow and green color contain very high lead levels. The study conducted by the Toxics Link together with IPEN together with Centre for Environmental Justice found lead in 33 paint samples out of 33 tested (100%). Fifteen paint samples exceeded permitted lead levels for paints in the Sri Lanka. The study also found safer paints with identical colors that did not contain lead.

Among the key findings of the study, 69% samples exceeded the current Sri Lanka lead in paint standard of 600 ppm. The highest sample contained 137,325 ppm lead, 1526 times greater than the US limit and 228 times higher than SLS standards.

Lead causes irreversible nervous system damage and decreased intelligence at extremely low doses. Lead exposure in childhood has been associated with lower vocabulary and grammatical-reasoning scores, increased absenteeism, poorer eye-to-hand coordination, and lower class standing in high school.

The U.S. EPA has determined that lead is a probable human carcinogen. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Healthy Environments for Children Alliance, “There is no known safe blood lead level but it is known that, as lead exposure increases, the range and severity of symptoms and effects also increases.” One of the largest causes of lead exposure is lead-contaminated dust from decaying paint. Lead ingestion and poisoning typically occurs through hand-to-mouth activity.

Lead threatens a child’s brain development and health. Child lead poisoning should be taken seriously and parents should be aware of possible pathways of exposure including lead paint in one’s home.

The question remains why those authorities who are responsible for regulating those products were unable to play their role.