ZAMBIA must put measures in place to ban the manufacturing, selling and using of paints which contain lead substances to safeguard the health of children in the country, Children’s Environmental Health Foundation (CEHF) national lead elimination advisor Michael Musenga has said.
The International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of action has been taking place from October 23 to October 29, 2016 with a particular focus on eliminating lead paint.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children.
In many countries in the developing world including Zambia, paint that contain high levels of lead is still being sold for decorating houses as well as schools and children’s toys.
Mr Musenge said in an interview yesterday that there was need for Zambia to enact an appropriate law that would prohibit the manufacturing as well as selling and using of paints which contain lead.
He said paint that contains lead additives posed a risk of lead poisoning especially to children aged six years and above and hence the country needed to put measures in place to remove such paint from the market.
Mr Musenga said that childhood lead poisoning could have long life health impacts including learning disabilities, anaemia and disorder in coordinating visual as well as speech and language skills.
He said a research conducted by the University of Zambia (UNZA) School of Medicine last year also revealed that paint manufactured in Zambia contain excessive lead thereby creating a risk to public health.
“Therefore working together with the Government and manufacturers in banning lead in paint will achieve toxic free future by the year 2020.
“We need to act together to protect the present and future generation,” Mr Musenga said.
He urged the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) to come up with standards on paint manufacturing to guide manufacturers and retailers.
Mr Musenga said the Tanzania Bureau of Standards was already planning to remove from the market all paints with lead substances, as it had been proved to cause health and mental problems to children and pregnant women due to cumulative toxicant.
Yesterday (Wednesday), a team of public health experts and other officials from CEHF as well as the Livingstone City Council (LCC) and ZABS conducted an awareness meeting with shop owners in Livingstone’s 217 area on the effects of producing, selling and using paint which contains lead.
Mr Musenga said most shop owners were very cooperative and that they would like to to see the results taken from the paint samples.
“We so far collected 18 out of 42 samples from Southern and Lusaka Provinces which we will send to a central and recommended laboratory in Sweden for examinations,” Mr Musenga said.