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Most paints in Kenyan market have toxic levels of lead, report warns

A painter gives an office block in Nakuru a facelift on March 2, 2017. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH | NMG
A painter gives an office block in Nakuru a facelift on March 2, 2017. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH | NMG 

Is your house or building painted with a solvent-based paint? Then you may have cause for worry.

There is at least a 71 per cent chance that the coat on your walls contains hazardously high levels of lead.

This is according to a report released today by the Centre for Environment Justice and Development (CEJAD) , an environmental justice watchdog, which revealed that 71 per cent of paint brands sold in the Kenyan market have dangerously high lead concentrations of above 10,000 ppm.

This amounts to 15 out of the 21 tested paint brands manufactured and supplied here in the country exposing Kenyans to the poisonous metal.

Also, almost all of the analysed products - save for two of the 21 brands - are manufacturing and releasing at least one lead paint with a total lead concentration above 90 ppm into the local consumer market.

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False advertising

Ironically the highest concentration of lead (160,000 ppm) was detected in a yellow paint produced by Molar Enamel Paint for home use, despite being it advertised as ‘lead free’.

These levels constitute as much as 16 per cent of the paint, and is almost 18,000 times the allowed legal limit of 0.009 per cent of the paint (90 ppm).

This is also the maximum allowed level in two paint standards adopted - but yet to be gazetted - by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs).

Lead limits

An international Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) resolution in 2015 agreed that African countries should adopt a limit for lead in all paints at 90 parts per million (ppm).

In May last year, the East African Community (EAC) adopted a 100 ppm lead limit, which is meant to be legally binding for Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.

The new standard is expected to come into force within two years among the bloc countries.

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