The report appears in the early online edition of the journal Environmental Research, to be published in September 2006.
The researchers say that this lead-based paint production poses a global health threat, and a worldwide ban is urgently needed to avoid future public health problems.
Lead is a malleable metal previously used to improve the durability and color luster of paint used in homes and other buildings and on steel structures, such as bridges. Now scientifically linked to impaired intellectual and physical growth in children, lead is also found in some commonly imported consumer products, including candy, folk and traditional medications, ceramic dinnerware and metallic toys and trinkets.
In a two-year study headed by Scott Clark, PhD, the UC-led research team found that more than 75 percent of the consumer paint tested from countries without controls—including India, Malaysia and China—had levels exceeding U.S. regulations. Collectively, the countries represent more than 2.5 billion people. In Singapore, which enforces the same lead restriction on new paint as the United States, lead levels were significantly lower.
“Paint manufacturers are aggressively marketing lead-based paints in countries without lead content restrictions,” says Clark, professor of environmental health at UC. “In some cases, companies are offering the same or similar products, minus the lead, in a regulated country.”
“There is a clear discrepancy in product safety outside the United States,” he adds, “and in today’s global economy, it would be irresponsible for us to ignore the public health threat for the citizens in the offending countries—as well as the countries they do business with.”
This study, Dr. Clark says, is believed to be the first to show that new paint in many unregulated Asian countries greatly exceeds U.S. safety levels.
The UC-led team analyzed 80 consumer paint samples of various colors and brands from four countries—India, Malaysia, China and Singapore—to determine the amount of lead and compare them with U.S. standards.
Each paint sample was applied in a single layer to a wood block, left to dry and then removed and analyzed in UC laboratories for lead content.
About 50 percent of the paint sold in China, India and Malaysia—none of which appear to have regulations on lead—had lead levels 30 times higher than U.S. regulations. In contrast in Singapore, which has well-enforced regulations, only 10 percent of paint samples were above U.S. regulations, the highest being six times the U.S. limit.
Clark says he is concerned about children who are currently exposed to lead in their houses and neighborhoods—and for those who will live in such places in the future.
“Lead-based paints have already poisoned millions of children in the United States and will likely cause similar damage in the future as paint use increases in Asian countries and elsewhere,” he says. “Our findings provide stark evidence of the urgent need for an effective worldwide ban on the use of lead-based paint.”
Children are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning for a number of reasons, including their natural hand-to-mouth behaviors. Workers responsible for removing lead-based paint are also at high risk for lead poisoning.
In 1978, the United States restricted lead content in paint after determining that people—especially young children—were being poisoned by environmental exposures to the element. Many Third World countries, says Clark, did not follow suit, and continue to manufacture and sell lead-based paints that would be prohibited in the United States and in some other countries.
“We’ve known for years that there are good substitutes for lead in paint,” he continues, “so it’s absolutely incomprehensible that paint manufacturers—particularly large companies with plentiful resources—would knowingly distribute a product that can be dangerous to people.”
“Some lead-contaminated items intended for use by children, painted playground equipment, for example, are manufactured in countries with limited to zero government regulation on lead in consumer products,” says Clark.
Although American brand paints were not available for purchase in this study, several U.S. multinational paint companies are among the top in Asia and some Asian paint companies have arrangements with U.S. companies.
“American companies need to take a stand and encourage their international collaborators to demand lower lead contents in consumer products—including paint,” he adds. “It’s not only the ethical thing to do, it’s the fiscally responsible choice to prevent billions of dollars in future health costs and property clean-up costs.”
This research was funded by the UC’s environmental health department and division of occupational health and hygiene, with partial support from NITON Corporation for travel in China.
Collaborators in this study include Rebecca Clark and Sandy Roda of UC, Krishna Rampal, MD, of the University Kebangsaan Malaysia, Venkatesh Thuppil, PhD, of the National Referral Center for Lead Poisoning Prevention in India, and Chin Chen of the Occupational Safety and Health Center at Singapore Polytechnic.
Amanda Harper | EurekAlert!
Researchers show p300 protein may suppress leukemia in MDS patients
28.03.2017 | University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
When writing interferes with hearing
28.03.2017 | Université de Genève
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
28.03.2017 | Health and Medicine
28.03.2017 | Life Sciences