Paint manufacturers will be required to lower lead levels in their products after the government gazetted standards for paints being sold locally as it seeks to stop the sale of products with high lead levels.
The standards limit the total lead content in paints, varnishes and related products to 90 parts per million liters.
A study by Centre for Environment Justice and Development mid last year found that 69 percent of 51 analyzed solvent-based paints for home use contained lead levels way above the United Nations Environment Program recommended threshold of 90 parts per million liters.
It is against this backdrop that the government has gazetted the compulsory standards on lead paints which has seen Kenya join the US, Cameroon and the Philippines in putting strict restrictions on lead paints in line with the global goal of eliminating lead paints by the year 2020.
The Centre for Environment Justice and Development Executive Director Griffins Ochieng says: “The new standards will not only control lead paints in Kenya, but will directly protect intelligence of Kenyan children. Lead exposure affects children even at low levels, and its health impacts are generally irreversible and lifelong.”
Lead exposure is estimated to account for 143,000 deaths every year most of who are in developing countries.
Ochieng says: “We applaud the government for this action; however the effective implementation of this standard remains the most critical action to help protect the intellectual development of our children and thus secure our country’s future intellectual capacity.”
Environmentalists say children inhale or digest the lead from the paints once they wear off which according to the World Health Organization is a major source of lead-caused mental retardation that is among the top ten diseases whose health burden was due to modifiable environmental factors.