Israel, Bangladesh Adopt Legislation to Limit Lead in Paint

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By International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), October 8, 2019

30 September 2019: Israel and Bangladesh have adopted laws to address lead in paint, bringing the total number of countries with legally binding controls to limit the production, import and sale of lead paints to 73.

Israel has set a 90 ppm lead limit for all paints, while Bangladesh has established a 90 ppm lead limit for decorative paints. Lead can be found in decorative paint for interiors and exteriors of homes, schools, public and commercial buildings, as well as on toys, furniture and playgrounds.

An increasing number of countries are taking steps to eliminate lead paint, in part as a result of recent regional workshops aimed at building support for phasing out lead in paint, underscoring the need for effective laws, promoting regulatory action by governments and raising awareness on the Lead in Paint Component of a Global Environment Facility (GEF)-supported project on ‘Global Best Practices on Emerging Chemical Policy Issues of Concern Under the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).’

The most effective means of preventing lead exposure from paints is to establish national laws, including legislation, regulations and/or legally binding standards that ban the use of lead additives in paints. At a minimum, countries are called on to stop the manufacture, import and sale of household decorative lead paints, and to consider limiting lead in all types of paints.

To combat lead poisoning and use, the Lead in Paint Component of the SAICM/GEF Project promotes regulatory and voluntary action by government and industry to phase out lead in paint. The project was launched in January 2019 during an inception workshop in Geneva, Switzerland, and will run through 2021.

In addition, the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint aims to prevent exposure to lead, promote the phase out of paints containing lead, and seeks to ensure that all countries have lead paint laws in place by 2020. The Alliance is a voluntary partnership established by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Lead-containing paint is one of the major sources of lead exposure for children globally, and was identified as an Emerging Policy Issue by SAICM. Lead poisoning causes intellectual disabilities in approximately 600,000 children every year and can have lifelong health impacts. No known level of lead exposure is considered safe for adults or children. [Update on the Global Status of Legal Limits of Lead in Paint: September 2019] [UNEP Fact Sheet on Suggested Steps for Establishing a Lead Paint Law] [Update on the SAICM GEF Project] [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources]