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Study supports 'urgent' need for worldwide ban on lead-based paint

Environmental and occupational health experts at the University of Cincinnati (UC) have found that major countries--including India, China and Malaysia -- still produce and sell consumer paints with dangerously high lead levels.

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."

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Source:University of Cincinnati


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