Lead concentration in 90 per cent of house paints cross acceptable standards: Study

Lead concentration as high as 1,60,000 parts per million (ppm) was detected in a sample of 250 cans of oil-based (enamel) house paints, a study has found.

Lead, which is added to paints in order to increase its their durability, speed up their drying and maintain their appearance, is known to be a health hazard, especially for small children. The acceptable international standard is 90 ppm, based on the dry weight of the digested sample.

According to the study conducted by Toxics Link, an environmental research and advocacy organisation, 250 cans of paint from 147 major, medium and small brands were analysed in a laboratory in Italy, where other samples from similar studies conducted in different countries are also sent for examination.

The cans were picked up from Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and West Bengal. The study reported that 90 per cent had lead levels over 90 ppm, 83 per cent over 600 ppm and 44 per cent 10,000 ppm. The average concentration was found out to be 22,800 ppm.

Out of the 250 cans, the study found that 109 paints were yellow in colour, 121 were white, 10 were dark (black, brown and grey) and 10 were bright (green, blue and red). According to the findings reported, yellow colored paints were found to contain higher amount of lead than other colors. In this case, 94 per cent (102 out of 109) had lead levels over 90 ppm.

The study also reported that the paints from the five major manufacturers — Asian paints, Kansai Nerolac, Berger Paints, ICI/Akzo Nobel and Shalimar — used in the study had lead levels below 90 ppm. According to the study, this was an indicating that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) were responsible for the alarmingly high concentration of lead in the paints.

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