Most paint companies operating in Indonesia continue to sell household paints that contain unsafe levels of lead, a study by a national NGO has revealed.
The study examined 78 samples of enamel household paints, which included 28 paint brands manufactured or sold in Indonesia. Approximately 77 percent of the samples were found to contain lead levels higher than 90 parts per million (ppm), the recommended limit for lead content.
The highest lead concentration was at 116,000 ppm and the average was 17,300 ppm.
“Exposure to even small amounts of lead can reduce a child’s intelligence and school performance and can also cause behavioral problems,” Yuyun Ismawati, an adviser with Bali Fokus, the NGO that conducted the study, said Friday. "High levels of lead in paint are a cause for serious concern, not only for families, but the country as a whole.”
Bali Fokus works to tackle environmental and urban development issues in Indonesia.
Lead paint has been banned in most of the developed world for more than 40 years, and its negative health effects last a lifetime and are irreversible, said Ismawati.
Exposure to lead paint damages a child’s intelligence and mental development even when there are no obvious or clinical signs of lead poisoning, according to the World Health Organization. There is no threshold level for harm; even the smallest amount can be damaging.
BaliFokus conducted the study jointly with the Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project and the International Persistent Organic Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN). The groups are calling on the government to limit the total lead content in paints to 90 parts per million.
“Ninety ppm meets the world’s strictest standards and would allow the paint to be sold anywhere in the world,” Ismawati said.
“This switch would be a good example of sustainable production and consumption cross-cutting all sectors targeted in the 10Y SCP Indonesia,” he added, referring to the national 10-year program on sustainable consumption and production that was launched on June 5.
IPEN is a global network of more than 700 public interest non-governmental organizations working together for the elimination of toxic pollutants.
Lead paint analysis is currently being implemented in seven countries — Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand — with European Union funding over a five year period.