Excessive lead paints, a health hazard for children
The re-opening of schools and painting classrooms and school
furniture to create a conducive environment for new students has exposed
them to health risks with a lasting effect.
"Lead is a toxin. Exposing young children to paints with lead can
damage their health for life", said Head of Toxicology Unit, Dr. Waruna
"Over 50 percent of samples tested had exceeded the limits set by the
Consumer Affairs Authority, as the minimum level should be 600 parts per
million (ppn)" said Shalani Rubesinghe, an Environmental Officer of the
Centre for Environment Justice which carried out an independent study
recently on "Lead in Asian paints."
Children from grades 1-5 are more vulnerable. At this stage a child's
brain undergoes rapid growth development and differentiation. Lead, a
developmental toxin inhibits development. Chronic and low level exposure
to lead from early childhood could retard the child's brain maturation,"
Dr Gunathilaka said.
The most common routes for this exposure were hand to mouth and
through the lungs (respiratory system). When a child puts his or her
finger into the mouth after touching a lead surface or inhales dust
particles from walls painted with lead, he is vulnerable to lead
poisoning, he said.
Rubesinghe cautioned parents about the deadly effects of brightly
coloured enamel paints. "As in the case of red, green, orange and yellow
indoor paints, enamel paints in these colours used in toys and cots are
also likely to have a high lead content. White is the best choice", she
She said lead was introduced in higher levels because it helped the
painted surface to dry quickly and evenly and also avoided rust. "Look
for the labels that say 'Child safe' or 'Un-leaded. "Buy the most recent
paints (after 2013) as they are likely to be free of lead. There are
plenty out there, just look for them", she said.