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There's poison on your walls

india Updated: Jul 18, 2006 04:22 IST

US environmental health experts have called for a global ban on lead-based paint production to stop major countries -- including India, China and Malaysia -- from producing and selling consumer paints with dangerously high lead levels. In many cases, it was 30 times higher than US regulation.

A study done by the University of Cincinnati (UC) and published in the online edition of the journal Environmental Research found that more than 75 per cent of the consumer paint tested from countries without controls -- including India, Malaysia and China -- had levels exceeding US regulations. Collectively, the countries represent more than 2.5 billion people.

Lead is a malleable metal previously used to improve the durability and lustre of paint used in homes and other buildings and on steel structures, such as bridges. Now scientifically linked to impaired intellectual and physical growth in children, lead is also found in some commonly imported consumer products, including toffees, folk and traditional medications, ceramic dinnerware and metallic toys and trinkets. "Paint manufacturers are aggressively marketing lead-based paints in countries without lead content restrictions," said study leader Scott Clark, professor of environmental health at UC.

"In some cases, companies are offering the same or similar products, minus the lead, in a regulated country." The UC-led team analyzed 80 consumer paint samples of various colors and brands from four countries-India, Malaysia, China and Singapore-to determine the amount of lead and compare them with US standards.

About 50 per cent of the paint sold in China, India and Malaysia had lead levels 30 times higher than US regulations.