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New standards set to eliminate lead paints in Kenya

Wahinya Henry @PeopleDailyKe

The future of Kenyan children looks brighter after the government gazetted compulsory standards to stop the production, import, export, use and sale of lead-containing paints.

The standards limit the total lead content in paints, varnishes and related products to 90 parts per million (ppm), a limit recommended by the United Nations Environment Programme. Kenya joins the US, Cameroon and the Philippines, which have the most restrictive lead limits in force today.

The gazettement of the standards comes on the backdrop of a study released by Centre for Environment Justice and Development (Cejad) and Ipen in June 2017, which said over 69 per cent of 51 analysed solvent-based paints for home use contained lead levels greater than 90 ppm.

Ipen is a global network of civil society organisations pursuing safe chemicals policies and practices while Cejan is Kenyan non-governmental organisation lobbying for pro-sustainability policy and legal frameworks; educating and advising the public on available technologies and practices that improve human and environmental health.

“The new standards will not only control lead paints in Kenya, but will directly protect intelligence of Kenyan children. Lead exposure affects children even at low levels, and its health impacts are generally irreversible and lifelong,” said Griffins Ochieng, Executive Director, Cejad.

“However the effective implementation of this standard remains the most critical action to help protect the intellectual development of our children and thus secure our country’s future intellectual capacity,” he added.

The good news arrived as Kenyan paint manufacturers, policy makers and civil society organisations met recently in Nairobi for a dialogue on eliminating lead in paints in Kenya.

Convened by Cejad in partnership with Ipen, the meeting aimed at promoting dialogue among stakeholders aimed at fast-tracking Kenya’s efforts to achieve the global goal of eliminating lead paint by 2020. The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) gazetted the two standards in January this year.

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