Phasing out the use of lead in paint

The use of lead paint for most purposes in North America has been banned for decades however, many countries around the world continue to allow the unrestricted use of paint containing high levels of lead in homes and public buildings, such as schools and hospitals, as well as in toys, jewelry, and furniture and playground equipment.  

Paint that contains lead additives poses a risk of lead poisoning, especially for young children. As lead paint deteriorates over time, children may inhale or ingest lead through household dust, paint chips or contaminated soil.

Research demonstrates that childhood lead exposure can adversely affect neurological development, with potential consequences such as a reduction in intelligence quotients (IQ), attention deficit disorder, and aggression. There is no known level of lead exposure that is considered to be safe.

The Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paint , a joint initiative of UN Environment and the World Health Organization (WHO), is an international voluntary collaboration to prevent children’s exposure from paints containing lead and to minimize occupational exposures to lead paint. The Alliance has set a goal to phase‐out of the manufacture and sale of paints containing lead by 2020.

The Alliance has launched an online Toolkit for establishing laws to control the use of lead in paint. They have also released a global status report regarding the existence of laws and regulations that establish legal limits on lead in paint for over 125 countries.