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Stakeholders clamour safer lead paint alternatives ahead of 2020 ban

The Federal Government of Nigeria, through the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), has been called upon to  immediately review and finalise the draft regulation to completely ban the manufacture, import, export, distribution, sale and use of paints that contain total lead concentrations exceeding 90 ppm (parts per million), considered to be the most restrictive standard in the world.

Participants at the SRADeV media session in Lagos

Executive Director, SRADeV Nigeria, Dr Leslie Adogame, who made the call in Lagos on Tuesday, November 5, 2019 during a joint media session with the Standards aorganisation of Nigeria (SON) and the Paints Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMA) to mark the year’s International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action (ILPPWA), also charged state governments to put in place policy frameworks and regulatory mechanisms in that regard.

The regulation, added Dr Adogame, should mandate paint companies to display enough information indicating harmful content on paint in labels and provide a warning on possible lead dust hazards when disturbing painted surfaces. He also wants the importation of alternatives of lead compound to be tariffs and taxes free.

He called on paint companies, especially the SMEs, that still produce lead paints to expeditiously stop the use of leaded paint ingredients in paint formulations.

Those that have shifted to non-lead paint production, Adogame added, “should get their products certified through SON or independent, third party verification procedures to increase the customer’s ability to choose paints with no added lead”.

“They should also provide information about the lead content of their products on paint can labels,” he stated.

The SRADeV boss urged individual, household and institutional consumers to demand paints with no added lead from paint manufacturers and retailers, as well as full disclosure of a paint product’s lead content.

“Consumers should ask for, consciously buy, and apply only paints with no added lead in places frequently used by children such as homes, schools, day care centers, parks and playgrounds,” he demanded.

He called on civil society organisations and professional groups to collaborate with government agencies to carry out awareness-raising campaigns to sensitise the public on the dangers associated with elevated lead levels in the blood, possible sources of lead exposure, and availability of possible technically superior and safer alternatives.

“There is a need to raise awareness and take precautions when preparing a previously painted surface for repainting; train people, e.g., painters working on previously painted surfaces about lead-safe work practices; and raise the needed resources to conduct such trainings. Campaigns that will empower consumers’ right to know the lead content of paints they purchase should be encouraged,” he stressed.

Adogame spoke against the backdrop of the National Campaign to Eliminate Lead use in Paint, which was launched in 2010. He disclosed that the theme of the ILPPWA 2019 is “Ban lead Paint”.

He described the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint (GAELP), also called Lead Paint Alliance (LPA), as a collaborative initiative run jointly by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and World Health Organisation (WHO), who declared October 20-26, 2019 as the Week of Action.

“In Nigeria, SRADev Nigeria (a member of GAELP) with its partners (SON, NESREA, PMA) joined the global community to raise awareness about lead exposure, publicise efforts to prevent childhood lead poisoning, and promote action to eliminate lead paint. Hence, the theme of this national press conference is ‘Ban lead paint 2020 – Industry to reformulate to safer lead paint alternatives in Nigeria’,” said Adogame.

His words: “Lead poisoning is preventable, yet the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has estimated that in 2017 lead exposure accounted for 1.06 million deaths and 24.4 million years lost to disability and death due to long-term effects on health, with the highest burden in developing regions. Of concern is the role of lead exposure in the development of intellectual disability in children.

“Even though there is wide recognition of this problem and many countries have acted, exposure to lead, particularly in childhood, remains of key concern to health care providers and public health officials worldwide.”

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