High Levels of Lead in Decorative Paints

To some degree, paints on the Malaysian market intended for use as decorative paints for interior use contain above-average levels of lead. As part of a study, representatives of the Malaysian Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) and the NGO network Ipen 39 bought various cans of decorative paints and had the materials analyzed in the United States. The results were surprising:

  • Every third sample contained concentrations of more than 10 grams of lead for each kilogram of paint.
  • Yellow paints had the highest levels of lead. Some 12 of the 19 samples analyzed had lead levels of more than 10 grams of lead for each kilogram of paint.
  • In general, the amount of lead indicated by the label was incorrect (the label stated a low level of lead) or not indicated at all.

Unlike the situation in other Asian countries, Malaysia does not yet have a limit for the amount of lead in paints. The strictest allowable values, 90 mg per kilogram of paint, exist in the United States and in the Philippines. Even countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal, Singapore, and China have limits.

The EU has strictly limited the use of lead in consumer products and paints since 1989. The use of lead carbonate and lead sulfate is prohibited. Exceptions, however, do exist. For example, white lead may be used in the restoration of older paintings. Use of such products is subject to notification. Annex XVII of the REACH Regulation states the permissible uses of lead for particular purposes.

You should ensure the legal compliance of your products. We are pleased to help you in this endeavor. Please contact us at reach@kft.de.

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