Top paint brands in India, Nepal and Bangladesh continue to flout lead norms: Study

A study of 27 paints from India, Bangladesh and Nepal has shown dangerously high levels of lead, according to a report by Toxics Link, the NGO specializing in pollution abatement.

The tests were conducted on all the major paint brands in India (and the other two countries).

“Overall 63% of the paint samples studied were exceeding the US’s 90ppm limit by 422 times, 44% of samples exceeded the much relaxed Indian Standard limit of 1000ppm by over 54 times,” the NGO, headed by Ravi Agarwal, said.

The study found relatively lower concentration of lead in paint sold in India, compared to Nepal and Bangladesh, according to the study carried out with the help of the Center for Public Health and Environment Development (CEPHED), Nepal and the Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO), Bangladesh.

“..those manufacturers who add high amount of lead in decorative paints in Bangladesh and Nepal are the ones who are also operating in India where their products have lower lead levels comparatively,” Toxics Link pointed out.

Lead, which also found in fuels, is toxic to many organs and tissues including the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys, and reproductive and nervous systems. It is particularly toxic to children, causing potentially permanent learning and behavior disorders. Symptoms include abdominal pain, confusion, headache, anemia, irritability, and in severe cases seizures, coma, and death.

Owing to serious health ramifications, especially in the children and unborn fetuses, Lead (Pb) has been phased out or restricted for use in many consumer products and processes in several western countries. After gasoline or petrol, the next big threat of lead poisoning is considered to be the lead-based household decorative paints.

In Europe, Canada, Australia and USA what consumers now get is decorative paints that have a maximum lead level of 90ppm, the mandatory standard that manufacturers cannot exceed by law.

“This is a clear case of ‘Double Standards’ followed by the acclaimed multinational paint majors in the region.. it is not less than criminal act by the paint majors to intently poison the public with the deadliest toxic heavy metal across the region,” Toxics Link said.

Some of the top brands in India have manufacturing operations in Nepal and Bangladesh, while other exports from India.

“It is a shame to see paints with lead loaded in them in this day and age….Further as the campaign in India for removing lead from paints grows stronger, it appears that things are not changing in our neighboring countries,” Agarwal pointed out.

Full report on Toxics Link Website