Producers tasked on lead-based paints, other products
The manufacturers of paint-based products in Nigeria have been told to embark on the reformulation of their production through processes that are devoid of lead-based ingredients, safer to humans and ecologically friendly.
According to experts who gathered in Lagos, the global community expects Nigeria to comply with the lead paint phase-out by the year 2020 for the nation to become competitive in the world’s paint market estimated at $850 billion with a yearly growth of 9 per cent. They said phasing out lead contents in paints would bring about environmental sustainability, increase manufacturers’ corporate social responsibility and image with consumers.
Lead is added to paint to accelerate drying, increase durability, maintain a fresh appearance, and resist moisture that causes corrosion. However, research has shown that the substance is one of the main causes of health and environmental hazards globally and in Nigeria. Lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children because they absorb from four to five times as much ingested lead as adults from a given source.
There has been the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint through the Lead Paint Alliance, a voluntary partnership formed by the United Nations and the World Health Organization to prevent exposure to lead by promoting the phase-out of paints containing lead.
As of September 2018, about 71 countries have put in place legally binding controls to limit the production, import, and sale of lead paints, which is 36.8 percent of all countries. However, as many as one hundred low and middle-income countries are yet to set legal limits on lead paint, and some countries have very high lead paint limits that are not as protective of public health or have gaps in the enforcement of lead paint laws.
Delivering a paper at the Paint Manufacturer Association of Nigeria, (PMAN) coating show, the guest lecturer, a professor of chemistry at the University of Lagos, Babajide Alo warned that leads in paints, “ Lead reduces Intelligent Quotient (IQ), induces antisocial behaviour, causes nervous system damage, stunted growth, damage to human kidney and delayed development. Lead paint is dangerous to adults and can cause reproductive problems in men or women. Decreases in sperm production in men have been noted. Lead is considered a possible and likely carcinogen. High levels may result in death.”
Prof. Alo said as an alternative, paint manufacturers have to replace lead contents with a less toxic substitute, titanium dioxide which is considered safe enough to use.
He said most brands tend to use strontium and zirconium in place of lead as a drying agent due to the fact that both materials are non-toxic than lead in addition to being a more efficient chemical that improves efficiency in profit maximization for producers.
He stated that the prevention of the manufacture, sale and import of paint that contains lead above the established legal limit of 90 mg/kg, based on the weight of the total non-volatile content of the paint was proposed as it provides the best available health protection, and is technically feasible, stressing that manufacturers, distributors, and importers must certify that lead paint is below the established limit while SMEs should not use any additives containing lead and should seek to ensure low levels of lead in raw material ingredients.
Alo harped on the need for producers to embrace the single formulation from multiple functionalities, the smart coating that is anti-corrosive, process change from environmental invasive materials like Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s solvent) to water-based and powder paint as well as green-friendly paints which he disclosed are some of the trends in the market.
Reacting, the Chairman of PMAN, Mr. A. Babatunde said it was regrettable that the majority of the material components for paint production in Nigeria are imported noting that it becomes difficult to control the lead contents in such materials. He urged the government and its regulatory agencies to up their games in performing their roles in that regard while its members are trying hard to comply with the authorised limit of 90kg of lead advanced by the government.
He identified challenges facing the association to include, adulteration and faking of members’ premium brands, low patronage of made in Nigeria goods despite campaigns by the government, poor electricity and bad roads, among others.
“Government should continue to enforce local content drive till we get to 100 per cent level. The local content should be truly indigenous and wholly produced in Nigeria. This would enable the incorporation of raw materials developed by the effort of the raw material research and development council”, Babatunde said.
On his part, the Director-General of Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Mr. Osita Aboloma reiterated the stand of the organisation to ensure that the quality of paints in Nigeria is enhanced through regulation and prompt monitoring of products in the market.
Represented by Mrs. Theresa Ojomo, he called for consistent collaboration between the organisation and Paint manufacturers to eliminate lead-based paints in the country.