Most paint companies in India sell household paints containing unsafe levels of lead that affect the health of millions, says a new study released Tuesday.
The study "Lead in India's Enamel Household Paints" by Toxics Link found dangerous levels of lead in samples of household decorative paints collected from Indian markets, manufactured by small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The status of lead used in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) is so far unknown, but this study indicates the small and medium paint manufacturers are adding excessive amounts of lead in their decorative paints.
"Exposure to even small amounts of lead can reduce a child's intelligence and school performance and can also cause increased violent behaviour, so high levels of lead in paint are a cause for serious concern not only for families, but the country as a whole," said Ravi Agarwal, director, Toxics Link.
Painted surfaces deteriorate with time or when disturbed, and lead from the paint then contaminates household dust and soils surrounding the home.
Children ingest lead from dusts and soils during normal hand to mouth behaviour.
"Damage to children's intelligence and mental development occurs even when there are no obvious or clinical signs of lead poisoning," he said.
A total 250 samples of new enamel decorative paint from 147 brands (major and small paint manufacturers sold in India), were purchased and analysed for lead content.