Source : Times of India, 13 October 2016, New Delhi
With a large number of people painting their houses before Diwali, Toxics Link, an environmental NGO has stepped up their efforts to educate consumers about safer alternatives — lead-free paints.
Through a number of workshops and awareness drives in schools, the NGO is looking to educate consumers on the harmful effects of using such paints.
While the heavy metal is used for its anti-fungal and durable property, research shows that its exposure to children, especially below six years of age, can affect their behavioural and cognitive development.
A study by Environmental Paediatrics at New York University School of Medicine has found that exposure to lead cost India $ 236 billion annually because of the health expenses.
"The damage caused to children is irreversible. Through rigorous efforts, we are finally seeing the levels of lead go down in paints, but still a lot of people don't know how harmful it can get," said Satish Sinha, associate director, Toxics Link.
A study by an NGO - 'Lead in Enamel household paints in India 2015' claimed to have found 32 of 101 enamel paints with lead concentration above 10,000 ppm, much above the prescribed limit of 90 ppm.
Sinha said the NGO has been conducting a series of workshops with toy makers who use lead-based paint and has also held sessions with ministry officials to ensure producers adhere to the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) norms of 90 ppm.
They also started a campaign in 2007 to eradicate its use and recent studies have shown a decline in the heavy metal levels in paints sold in the market.
"It is important that people are made to realise the impact it can have on health and environment. Consumers should look at the labels - 'no added lead, mercury or chromium' or 'no added lead, mercury, arsenic and chromium' in the paints they purchase. A number of customers are still unaware of what an exposure to lead can do," said Piyush Mohapatra, senior programme coordinator Toxics Link.
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