The National Association of Professional Environmentalists have Wednesday launched the Lead Study Report which states that Lead is one of the leading causes of brain degeneration among children.
This being the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action (ILPPWA), NAPE held a press conference at Hotel Triangle calling upon Government through NEMA and UNBS to put up regulations against paint companies that use high percentages of Lead in their paint.
The Executive Director NAPE, Frank Muramuzi said that the biggest challenge is to differentiate the paint with or without lead and many companies are hiding behind this.
“Paint companies do not indicate on their tins the ingredients they use to make the paint because they know that one of the ingredients, lead, is extremely dangerous to children,” Muramuzi stated.
NAPE with the support of IPEN carried out a study to assess the levels of lead in paint that is produced in Uganda. The cut-off concentration for lead paint used in the report was 90 parts per million.
When 30 cans of solvent – based paint(representing 14 different brands) intended for home use were taken from Kampala stores to be tested in the USA, 20 out of the 30 were discovered to be lead paints; they contained lead concentration above 90 parts per million.
“This was a very terrifying finding showing that our children are already exposed to danger, so we ask UNBS to help us certify these products and demand the companies to indicate the ingredients so that we atleast know the amount of poison our children are consuming,” Muramuzi said.
On the other hand, 10 out of the 30 solvent-based paints contained lead concentration below 90ppm, suggesting that the technology to produce paint without lead ingredients exists in Uganda.
Muramuzi explained that, “we visited a number of these companies, some of them warmly welcomed us, whereas some of them told us lies since we already knew which one had high lead components from the study, we beseech this industry to take it upon itself to be self-regulating so as to save the children.”
It was also discovered that yellow paints contain dangerously high lead concentrations above 10,000ppm compared to red paints.
It is scientifically proven that lead goes straight to the brain and damages it especially those of children because they are not yet developed.
“You just keep blaming your child of being dense yet you used to be clever not knowing it is the effect of lead,” Muramuzi said.
NAPE has proposed to NEMA to therefore move faster in drafting and developing legislation and regulations to ban the manufacturing, importing, exporting and distribution of lead paints above 90ppm.
“They should also require paint companies to display sufficient information indicating toxic content on paint can labels and provide a warning on lead hazards,” Muramuzi pointed out.
Robert Tumwesigye, director Pro-biodiversity Conservationist in Uganda said that companies put lead in the paint because it helps to dry the paint faster and make it shine.
“They are more focused on profits so we and the public must take it upon ourselves to demand what ingredients they put in the paint so as to protect ourselves,” Tumwesigye said.