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Issue 23
, 2010
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51 pc school kids in metros at high risk of lead poisoning-----**Study traces it to lead-based paints, asks government to frame law*

Source: The Tribune, New Delhi, Date: , 2010

Sudden decline in IQ levels of children and unexplained retardation or hyperactivity among them can now be traced to unacceptably high levels of lead in their blood-sugar levels. In a significant study that could form basis of India’s first legislation on lead-free paints, experts from the Quality Council of India (QCI) have found that over 51.3 per cent children below 12 years in Indian metros have their blood-lead levels above the permissible limit of 10 microgram per decilitre (ug/dl)- a concentration dangerous enough to reduce IQs by four to six units and cause serious developmental disorders. The health hazard has been traced to high lead levels in domestic paints, used on walls in schools and residences, school buses, swings in playgrounds and toys. “Over 93 per cent paints manufactured in India contain added lead, which is severely damaging our children’s health. If we could ban this, we would ensure that every child has about six units of higher IQ. Tragically, symptoms of lead hazard do not reveal themselves easily. A parent, whose child suddenly loses IQ will hardly know that the paint on the child’s school bus is causing the damage,” secretary general of the QCI, an autonomous body under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Giridhar Gyani said. But till the law comes, QCI has asked the National Bal Bhavan to help it create awareness against lead-based paints among school authorities and parents. “They must choose lead-free paints.

Gyani said. The warning is important considering the booming housing sector, expected to offer 30 million new homes and leading to increased use of lead-based paints. Already, four firms in India, including Asian Paints, ICI India and government’s Mysore Lead are producing lead-free paints, in part; these are 25 per cent costlier than others. The “Project Lead Free” study of the QCI was conducted over five years on a sample of 23, 500 children in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai. It found average lead concentrations for new enamel paints in India to be the highest- 85,000 ppm in yellow paints (most dangerous to health). White paints with a much lower concentration of 1330 ppm were found better.