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Dangerous levels of lead in paint revealed, calls for more research

Dangerous levels of lead in paint revealed, calls for more research

The Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA), a government body that monitors the quality of food and daily goods in Pakistan, has rejected a recent study that found that the amount of lead in paints used on buildings in Pakistan is below the prescribed limit. It is more than 40 percent and the institute has suggested re-investigation.

The PSQCA has rejected a non-governmental organization’s research showing that 40 percent of the paints available in Pakistan had excessive lead levels, saying the research was not done according to PSQCA’s standards. Yes, so let’s do it again.

Since then, the Lead Exposure Elimination Project (LEAP), the agency that issued the research report, has announced that it will conduct a new study following the PSQCA criteria.

Speaking to Independent Urdu, PSQCA Deputy Director (Chemical) Khawaja Ghulam Mohiuddin said: ‘This is an old research which has been presented in a new way. The PSQCA standards were not taken into account in this study and PSQCA was not included in this study, so the study should be redone. ‘

According to Khawaja Ghulam Mohiuddin: ‘This research was done in 2021, now it is 2023. A lot has changed during these two years. We have held an online meeting with the agency that issued the study and conveyed our concerns, which were acknowledged and agreed to conduct the study again soon.’

What was reported in Leap’s research?

An ongoing study by an international non-governmental organization called Lead Exposure Elimination Project (LEAP) revealed that dangerous levels of lead in oil paints used to paint buildings in Pakistan pose a serious risk to the health of children.

The project is a member of the World Health Organization’s Group on Combating Hazardous Lead in Paint Worldwide and a member of the United Nations Environment Programme, which aims to eliminate lead poisoning from children and improve child health worldwide. Works to make.

The report revealed that ‘lead poisoning from paint and other sources is affecting 47 million children in Pakistan, while the country is losing 38 billion dollars every year.’

In 2017, the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority issued a policy on the amount of lead in paint, according to which paint companies can contain only 100 parts of lead in 1 million parts of paint. During the research, some paints were found to have levels 1000 times higher than the prescribed amount and some paints were found to be ‘lead free’ on the packet despite having extremely high levels of lead.

According to Khawaja Ghulam Mohiuddin: ‘In 2017, we had also issued a directive to paint companies introducing a policy on lead content in paint, many of which had implemented it. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct this research according to the standards of Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority, so that the results can be better.

Reacting to this, Leap project manager Charlie Loudon said: ‘Leap is happy to share this independent research with the government. Such research is useful for the existence of the problem.’

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According to him: ‘Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority has excellent standards and by testing itself, these standards can be enforced. We look forward to working with the authority.’

When asked if this research was done in 2021? In response to this question, Charlie Loudon said: ‘Yes, as the research began, the initial samples were taken in November 2021.’

Why is lead mixed in paint?

According to Charlie Loudon, it is not necessary to add lead to the paint, but companies use lead in the paint to improve the lead color, to cure the paint quickly after painting and to keep the paint fresh for a long time. Companies are already using those alternatives.

Dr. Zafar Fatemi, Professor of Environmental Health and Climate Change at the Department of Community Health Sciences at Aga Khan University, told Independent Urdu that paint companies use lead in a bid to make cheaper, better-colored paints.

‘There is an alternative to lead, but it is expensive and why would companies mixing cheap lead to make money add an expensive alternative?’

According to Dr. Zafar Fatemi: ‘Especially red and yellow paints and even food items like turmeric etc. are mixed with lead to intensify the color. House dust generated inside the house due to lead in paint stunts the mental development of young children.

“Lead has negative effects not only on young children, but also on unborn babies, so in developed countries decades ago lead was completely banned in paint.”

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