Lead in Paints Campaign
Lead (Pb) compounds have been historically used by paint manufacturers. Several properties of lead make it commercially attractive for its use in paints. It has a color vibrancy and the ability to hold pigments well. It helps paints stand up well to outside weather elements, impart high degree of corrosion resistance and also reduces drying time. Lead-based decorative paints (and other products such as gasoline for that matter) have posed several health problems all over the world. Lead-based paints have long been proven to be associated with elevated blood lead levels in children causing subsequent lead poisoning. Scientific shreds of evidence have established that children are the most vulnerable population and can be seriously impacted even at very low levels of lead in blood. Most lead poisoning in children results from eating chips of deteriorating lead-based paint.

Several Western countries have enacted a ban or imposed restriction on the use of lead in interior paints. Countries like the US and China have restricted its use to 90 ppm in decorative paints. The sixth session of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS), held at Dakar, Senegal, adopted a unanimous resolution to eliminate lead from paints worldwide. The International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM3) of Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) held at Nairobi adopted ‘Lead in Paint’ to be one of the emerging policy issues. Its resolution welcomed the formation of Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paints (GAELP) and stressed that activities related to information creation, awareness building, phasing out lead-based paints and lead-poisoning issues be taken up across the globe. 


In parallel, the international community has taken action to build on this NGO initiative. Toxics Link has been working on lead in paints issue in India since 2006 and has undertaken a series of research studies on the paints sold in the Indian market. Toxics Link as a member of IPEN proposed a Global Partnership to eliminate lead from paint to Forum VI of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS) in September 2008. IFCS, through a resolution, passed at Forum VI, and the SAICM Emerging Issues Policy process has endorsed this NGO initiative. Moreover, this issue is one of the four SAICM Emerging Issues set for discussion and cooperative action at ICCM2. To investigate the problem globally, Toxics Link and IPEN partnered together in 2008 to test paints for lead in local markets in countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. The results confirmed that lead in paints was still being produced and sold, exposing children and communities to this toxic substance.


The Lead in New Decorative Paints – A Global Study was first released at the ICCM2 in Geneva in May 2009, and helped in informing the delegates to adopt a resolution to form a Global Partnership under the auspices of UNEP and WHO to eliminate lead from paints by 2020.  It is an ambitious but achievable goal and 65% Enamel Decorative Paint shifted for Lead Safe Paint production.

Toxics Link has been awarded the prestigious EU-SWITCH Asia Project (7 Asian Countries) of three- year duration in 2012. The project in India is primarily directed towards the small-scale manufacturing of paints having 40% market share. The overall objective of the project is to reduce childhood lead poisoning in the country, and activities to be carried out under this objective are:


a) push for national standards for lead in paints
b) initiate ‘third party certification’ programme;
c) phase-out lead paints and help shift towards safer alternatives; and

d) create awareness among bulk consumers and others to go for lead-free paints. In order to strengthen the campaign specially focused on small manufactures, about 200 samples of local brands from across India would be tested.


Subsequently, the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MOEF &CC) has notified “The Regulation on Lead contents in Household and Decorative Paints Rules, 2016” to restrict the lead content to 90 ppm in the household and decorative paints which came into force from November 2017.


Some of the important provisions of the rules are:
– The Household and Decorative Paints containing lead or lead compounds (calculated as lead metal) in excess of 90 parts per million (0.009 percent) of the weight of the total non-volatile content of the weight of the film of the dried paint is prohibited.
– The product shall be labeled stating that the lead contents do not exceed 90 parts per million. 

– The label shall contain the name and address of the manufacturer or importer, as the case may be.


Further, a compliance and testing procedure was prepared and published by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to implement the rules. The rules have authorized the Central Power Research Institute (CPRI), Bengaluru and its regional centers at Bhopal, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Nagpur, Nashik and Noida and any other accredited laboratory with National Accreditation Board of Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) for testing of paints.


The Regulation on Lead contents in Household and Decorative Paints Ruless, 2016

CPCB guidelines on Lead in Paints.


Our latest studies indicated the gradual decline of lead from paints in the big manufacturers however, it is still a concern for the small and medium scale manufacturers. Nevertheless, the studies also indicated that the small and medium scale enterprises in India have the ability to produce paints with less than 90 ppm of lead.


Latest From Toxics Link


Domestic Hazardous Waste: An Emerging Concern In India


Recommerce Expo 2023 Pioneers Sustainability at Centre Stage


Towards Zero Waste: Circular Economy (CE) in Waste Management


Strengthening capacities for managing Biomedical waste

Explore Further

Our Publications

Explore our collection of publications, including reports, case studies, brochures, pamphlets, etc.

In the News

Go through the archive of press and media coverage about Toxics Link and our work through the decades.