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Three quarters of Thailand’s paints exceed safe lead levels

The Ecology Alert and Recovery Thailand Foundation (Earth) have warned that over three quarters of the paints sold in Thailand contain levels of lead that exceed safety standard limits. According to the deputy director of Earth, Walaiporn Mooksawan, the foundation tested 128 paint samples from building paint brands.  She said that Thai Industrial Standards Institute (Tisi) regulations state that paints must not contain more than 100 parts per million (ppm) of lead.

According to Earth’s research, 79% of test samples exceeded the safety cap, with 40% of samples surpassing the safety limit by more than 10,000 ppm, or 100 times the set standard. The sample with the highest lead concentration contained a tremendous 95,000 ppm of lead.

paintMs Walaiporn said eight of 29 paint samples labelled “does not contain lead” were found to contain over 10,000 ppm of lead and based on the study, only 15 out of 42 paint manufacturers adhere to Tisi standards.

Currently, the Tisi operates on a system of voluntary compliance. Paints exceeding the institute’s safety limits are not considered illegal, as long as they are not marked with the institute’s seal of approval.

Earth director Penchom Sae-tung said safety standards should no longer be voluntary. “If adhering to the safety standard remains voluntary then consumers have no way of knowing for sure which house paints are safe,” he said.

He added that government has accepted National Economic and Social Advisory Council proposals to include paint lead concentration limits in state regulations and have the Office of the Consumer Protection Board place lead warning labels on all paint products.

Lead is toxic to many human organs and tissues. It is particularly harmful to young children, causing potentially permanent learning and behavioral disorders.

Symptoms of excessive lead exposure include abdominal pain, confusion, headaches, anemia, irritability, and, in severe cases, seizures, coma, and death.

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