The Children’s Environmental Health Foundation (CEHF) has thanked the Zambian government through the Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection for the taking the lead to draft the lead paint regulations in line with the Global Alliance to Eliminate lead paint.

In an interview with CEHF Chairperson and Country Coordinator, Michael Musenga said that Zambia had joined the rest of Africa and the world in promoting the production and use of unleaded paint that is safe and conducive for public health safety.

Mr Musenga said that the organization has conducted several campaigns, works and strategies around the use of lead-in-paint and that it was cardinal for stakeholders like the government to spearhead the process of establishing statutory instruments with regards to the use of lead in paint.

“Lead is a cumulative toxicant that poses serious risks to human health and development, with children being especially vulnerable. Lead-containing paint remains one of the major sources of lead exposure for children globally,” he expressed.

Mr Musenga said that the international community, governments, industry, and non-governmental organizations are working together to promote the establishment of lead paint laws in all countries to prevent future lead exposure from paints in countries without such laws.

He stated that it was delightful to that the Zambian government was making effort and strides in making the statutory instrument that will guide the production of paint using lead.

The CEHF boss identified that lead could cause permanent damage to the brain and nervous system, resulting in decreased IQ and increased behavioural problems.

He mentioned that lead in paint, if not moderated to 90 parts per million, could cause anaemia thereby increasing the risk of kidney damage, hypertension and impair reproductive function.

“Young children and pregnant women whose developing fetus can be exposed are especially vulnerable neurological damage,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Mr Musenga applauded the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) for taking the lead as the Lead Agency in the drafting of the lead paint in regulations.

The Lead-in-Paint campaign country advisor said that ZEMA had a rich history of protecting the environment, controlling pollution, and providing adequate welfare for people and the environment and therefore, CEHF trusted that the agency would do a commendable job when it came to the formulation of the law.

He said the organization will continue working with other institutions and government lined ministries such as the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection in ensuring that the formulation of the statutory instrument comes to fruition.

Mr Musenga concluded that it was high time for paint industries to use cost-effective, alternative, less toxic lead compounds that were below 90 parts per million.

The Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint (Lead Paint Alliance) Helps Countries established lead paint laws. It is a voluntary partnership formed in 2011 by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) called for by the International Conference on Chemicals Management at its second session in 2009.

The Alliance consists of partners from governments industry, civil society, and academia, all supporting its aim to present children’s exposure on lead-containing paint and to minimize occupational exposure to lead paint through the phase-out of the manufacture, import and sale of lead paint.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has estimated that, in 2017, lead exposure accounted for 1.05 million deaths and 21.9 million years lost to disability and death due to long-term health effects.

The largest economic burden of lead exposure is borne by low- and middle-income countries. Estimated annual costs (in international dollars) of lead exposure by global region, based on loss of IQ, include the following:

  • Africa-$134.7 billion
  • Latin America
  • Caribbean-$142.3 billion
  • Asia-$699.9 billion2
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