The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has revised and notified the voluntary lead standards in paints to 90 ppm (IS 133: 2013). The apex standard making body of India formulated standard for lead in paints in 1950 and till 2004, these remained as 1000 pm.
Toxics Link, an environmental non-profit organisation, in its successive studies on lead content in Indian household paints, found that the lead content was much higher than 1000 ppm. With these figures, the organization stepped up the campaign for bringing the lead standard to 90 ppm, the limit accepted by other developed countries.
Lead is a heavy metal used extensively in the manufacture of paints. Its color vibrancy, ability to hold pigments, resistance to corrosion, and quick drying time makes it a very useful product during production of paints. But the fact remains that lead is harmful to human health and environment. Scientific evidences have established that children and pregnant women are most vulnerable, as very low levels of lead in blood can also be harmful. In developing countries like India, paints are the major sources of lead exposure.
Most importantly, the BIS committee has taken cognizance of the fact that lead exposure to human being, particularly children in residential premises is injurious to health and has adverse impact on human health. However the new standard notified by BIS is voluntary in nature, which may not serve the purpose. Thus, Toxics Link continues to fight for the lead in paints standards to be made mandatory.
The use of lead has been severely restricted in many developed countries across the world. In South Asian region, Sri Lanka came up with stringent mandatory standards for lead content in paints on 1 January 2013.