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Monday, July 15, 2024

SRADev, SON sensitise stakeholders on essence of lead-free paint production

Following the outcomes of the Technical Committee meeting on issues relating to lead tolerance in paints, quality, and labelling requirements in line with the global standards, the Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development (SRADev Nigeria) in collaboration with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), has taken the initiative to disseminate information related to the requirements.

Participants at the one-day Awareness Programme on Lead-free Paints, in Lagos

In his submission at the one-day Awareness Programme on Friday, June 14, 2024, in Lagos, Dr. Leslie Adogame, the Executive Director of SRADev Nigeria, noted that lead, ingredients or derivatives are not basically produced in Nigeria, but are imported. However, paint manufacturers have found them useful for aggregation and making paints.

He said: “Lead is dangerous to humans, especially children and we have continued to use it despite its adverse effect on our health. There has been a national campaign since 2009 globally for elimination of lead in paint.”

According to Dr. Adogame, “this event is a climax of a series of national activities, which we have been facilitating as civil society. What we have basically been doing is to help midwife a national process that will lead to a total elimination of lead in paint from Nigeria.

“What this event basically has done is a climax because we have supported the government to a point that National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) has crafted regulations to regulate lead in the environment in paint. That regulation has been gazetted just precisely in January. We had to move to the next stage of getting support from our sponsors to say standards have been a bit obsolete, you know, since 2017 and it needs to be upgraded because the standard don’t even talk about how paints manufactured in Nigeria should be labelled. We mean mandatory kind of labelling so that any user of paint will know that okay, this paint I shouldn’t buy that.

“I can tell you authoritatively that the Technical Committee meeting that’s going on has adopted and agreed that all the marking instructions on all paints made in Nigeria now will carry no added lead, so it’s a big win in the sense that we can now say anybody going to the paint market from once this standard is finally approved by Council should go out to look for a paint that is marked no added lead, that means no intentionally added lead. It means that that paint is within 90 parts per million.

“So, we are using a tripartite approach, working with the Ministry of Environment, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and this event is just an awareness to harmonise all these different regulations and standards that are coming up so that Nigerian stakeholders understand the importance on how to be able to imbibe them.

“The focus entirely is the SMEs who are the major culprits, they are the ones who adulterate paints, they are the ones who use sub-standard additives and all that, so we brought them together to raise an awareness to say there is a regulation now, there is a standard now that says 90 parts per million; so very soon buyers of paint should look out for no added lead in paint before you buy.”

Yujin Han, Programme Manager, Lead Exposure Elimination Project (LEEP), noted that the awareness raising workshop followed the Technical Committee’s review of the standard on lead paint, according to standard regulation the International accepted limit is 90 parts per million for lead paint production.

She said: “LEEP works with both the government to ensure that there’s regulation and that the regulation is being enforced and then we also work with manufacturers and our work with manufacturers helps connect them with lead free raw materials to ensure that they’re able to reformulate and what we do know is that it’s entirely possible to make lead free paint along same lines of the quality that customers expect.

“Just like we have done in countries such as Pakistan and Malawi, among others, our work in Nigeria has been going on since last year and we’ve been partnering the SRADev Nigeria who has been an incredible local NGO, and so the work that we’re doing currently has included gazetting, helps supporting Nigeria in gazetting the regulation and then also supporting the Technical Committee members to review the standard and so we see that lead paint regulation and standards are an effective way of getting lead paint off the market.”

Mrs. Theresa Ojomo, Head of Regional Operations, SON, emphasised that the basic requirement for paint production must not be more than 90 parts per million. According to her “labelling is also very important for all products”.

She said a six-month timeframe has already been given to paint manufacturers to exhaust the already imported materials into the country and, by January 2025, the Federal Government will not allow any lead paint in the country and by then the SON will have the constitutional rights to arrest, apprehend and prosecute any erring manufacturer that’s found wanting.

Mr. Adebolu Babatunde, Chairman, Paints Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (PMA), opined: “Of course, lead get into paints via two materials, these are the lead and the very bright pigment called crumbs and for lead I think there is a clear substitute for lead driers and that has been in use in the industry for more than 15 years. But for the pigments that produces bright colour we have to change from those containing crumbs that bring lead to the organic type but there are challenges which have been highlighted, it is left for paint manufacturers to move to the alternative and that is the awareness that have been passed on to the public via this programme today.”

As regards the January 2025 deadline given by SON on the enforcement, Mr. Babatunde, who also doubled as the Chairman, Technical Committee Chairman for Manufacturers, said: “When we get to the bridge we will cross it, we are in Nigeria, and we know there are a lot of considerations that have to be in place. First, we have to exhaust the materials already imported into the country after which we consider moving into the alternative options, though the alternative is here already but not in the volume the paint market is used to.”

Dignitaries at the event include Professor (Mrs.) Kehinde Olayinka, Chairman Technical Committee; Mr. Jude Maduka, Executive Director, Paint Manufacturers Association (PMA); and Dr. Gilbert Adie from University of Ibadan (joined remotely); along with representatives from Federal Ministry of Industry Trade, and Investment (FMITI), Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), and Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), among other stakeholders.

By Ajibola Adedoye

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