Saturday, September 15, 2007

Indian paints : hazardous

After plastic and PVC toys it’s household paint samples picked up from Delhi and Mumbai markets that have now tested positive for presence of high levels of heavy metal.

The study “A Brush with Toxics: An Investigation on Lead in Household Paints in India” was released here on Wednesday by non-government organisation Toxics Link. It claims to have detected dangerously high levels of lead in household paint samples. The research is said to be one of the most comprehensive on the issue both in terms of sample size and the range of paint type. Besides being tested in an Indian laboratory, the samples were also tested at a laboratory in New York.

The tests show alarming levels of lead in enamel paints (with a gloss finish) and this holds true for most of the paints available in the market. Of the 31 enamel paint sample analysed for lead concentration, 83.87 per cent had more than 600 parts per million (PPM) of lead and only 19.1 per cent had less than 600 PPM presence of the heavy metal. The result also indicated that most enamel paint samples had lead concentration ranging from 2 per cent to 14 per cent,” said the author of the study Abhay Kumar.

“The idea behind this research was to determine the total concentration of lead in decorative paints of all types including plastic, enamel and exterior intend for residential use. Although lead as a source of health hazard has been studied in soil, atmosphere and toys, very few studies have been done on paints in India,” said director of Toxics Link Ravi Agarwal.

The Bureau of Indian Standards has slated 1,000 PPM as the benchmark for acceptable levels of lead in paints, which is not only voluntary but also optional as a part of Ecomark labelling. Therefore, a manufacturer is not bound by law to provide safe household paints, even if they pose serious health risks.

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