Lab study finds paints in India have unacceptable levels of toxic lead

Questions use of other chemicals in our common household products, as government does not set any standards

  • CSE laboratory tests twice – in 2008 and 2009 – to check for toxic lead content in household paints. Finds Indian paints contain high and unacceptable amounts of lead – breaching the voluntary standard set by the Bureau of Indian Standards
  • 72 per cent of the samples contained lead levels much higher than the BIS limit. Shalimar Paints’ Superlac brand had the highest amount
  • Lead in paints has been indicted for being a silent epidemic – exposure can even lower IQ in children, say scientific studies
  • CSE study says weak regulatory control the real culprit. India has only a voluntary standard for lead in paint, which companies don’t meet
  • Paint is an example of the many other household products – from detergents to cleaners – we use, but which can be toxic

New Delhi, August 17, 2009: The paints used in Indian homes come with a deadly health cost. Most of the popular brands of paints contain high quantities of lead, a toxin especially dangerous for children -- says a latest study done by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

Over 2008 and 2009, CSE’s Pollution Monitoring Laboratory tested these brands for their lead content. It found 72 per cent of the samples had lead much higher than the voluntary limit specified by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). There is no mandatory standard for lead levels in paints in the country.

Says Sunita Narain, director, CSE: “Every moment, we are building a stock of unwanted, toxic chemicals in our bodies. Lead from our house paints is one of them. It’s deadly
because it can lower children’s IQ.”

CSE’s lab has a series of ground-breaking pollution studies to its credit. In 2001, it had tested endosulphan residues from environment and human samples in Kasaragod district in Kerala. In 2003 and 2006, pesticide residue tests were carried out on bottled water and soft drinks, while blood samples of farmers in Punjab were tested for pesticides residues in 2005. The lab’s most recent study was on transfat levels in cooking oils, done in February 2009.

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