Children and Pregnant Mothers face widespread exposure to toxic lead in paint

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Children and Pregnant Mothers face widespread exposure to toxic lead in paint (UNEP@PHOTO)

Young children and pregnant mothers in the developing world are still exposed to high levels of lead through unsafe paints. And it comes more than 90 years after the League of Nations called for a ban on lead in paint, and despite the existence of many safe alternatives.

A study by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) finds that the majority of the paints tested would not meet regulatory standards established in most highly industrialized countries— for example, 90 parts per million (ppm) in the United States and Canada—and that some contain astonishingly high and dangerous levels of lead. The study analyzed enamel decorative paints from nine countries: Argentina, Azerbaijan, Chile, Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kyrgyzstan, Tunisia and Uruguay.

UNEP's Spokesperson Nick Nuttall says "This report seeks to catalyze action by raising awareness among Governments, manufacturers and consumers not just that the problem exists, but that there are cheap and safe alternatives to lead already in use that can lift this health burden in a very short time."

World Health Organization (WHO) research shows that 99 per cent of children affected by high exposure to lead live in low- and middle-income countries. An estimated 143,000 deaths per year result from lead poisoning and lead paint is a major contributor to this.

WHO's Director of Public Health and Environment Dr. Maria Neira says "Lead poisoning remains the number one environmental health concern for children globally and led paint is a major flashpoint for children's potential lead poisoning."

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’29″

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