The Delhi-based non-profit environmental group Toxics Link released a study last week that showed dangerously high levels of lead in household paint samples from Delhi and Mumbai, following another study they conducted in collaboration with a television channel that also found that a shocking 65 percent of toys (made not only in China but other branded toys in India as well) that claimed to be non-toxic, but in fact had high amounts of lead as well.
The comprehensive study on paints, titled "A Brush With Toxics", is one of the few of its kind in India in terms of scope and sample size and examined the levels of lead in decorative paints of all types, from plastic, enamel and exterior intended for residential use.High levels of lead were found in readily-available enamel paints with a gloss finish. "Of 31 enamel paint samples analysed for lead concentration, 83.87 percent had more than 600 parts per million (ppm) of lead, 19.1 percent had less than 600 ppm," said Dr. Abhay Kumar of Toxics Link.
"Except for one brand, all others had multiple samples that contained high concentration of lead, exceeding the voluntary Indian standard of 1,000 ppm and the US standard of 600 ppm."
The Indian standard is set by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), but is voluntary and optional as part of Ecomark labelling in India. There is no body that actively enforces the standard.
"Therefore, a manufacturer is not bound by law to provide safe household paints, even if they pose serious health hazards," says Toxics Link director Ravi Agarwal.
The effects of prolonged lead exposure includes high blood pressure and anaemia in adults — with the worst effects resulting in brain and kidney damage. Children are especially susceptible to exposure as they absorb lead more easily, causing impairment to normal development.
::EarthTimes.org & ::Toxics Link