Study finds Indonesian paints with High Lead Levels Commonly Sold in Market Improvement Among Market

18 June 2015, Jakarta, Indonesia. A new study on lead in decorative paints in Indonesia released today by BaliFokus finds that more than three-quarters of paints analysed would not comply with a new proposed standard of 600 parts per million (ppm).

“The health impacts of lead exposure on young children’s brains are lifelong, irreversible and untreatable”, said Yuyun Ismawati, Senior Advisor and Project Supervisor of BaliFokus. “Fortunately, some paint manufacturers in Indonesia are beginning to remove lead from their paint, which demonstrates that the technology exists in Indonesia to produce lead safe paints. Nevertheless too many companies are risking our children’s future by selling paints with high lead levels.”

“Since BaliFokus began investigating lead in decorative paint, a new voluntary 600 ppm standard for organic solvent-based paint (SNI 8011:2014) has been proposed and is awaiting government official announcement. These actions demonstrate that government officials have become aware of the danger lead paint poses to young children and the nation’s economy. We need to put this regulation into effect immediately,” Ismawati continued.

In 2014-2015, BaliFokus purchased a total of 121 cans of enamel decorative paints from 63 brands in 5 Indonesian cities, which were then analysed for their lead content in an accredited laboratory in Europe. The paint study was conducted as a part the IPEN Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project, funded with EUR 1.4 million (IDR 21 billion) by the European Union in 7 countries.

Key findings of the study include:

  • 94 paints (78% of paints) had led content greater than 600 ppm and would not be permitted for sale in Indonesia under a new, proposed lead paint standard;

  • When BaliFokus analysed paint samples in 2013, only one of the market leaders, Dulux & Catylac (ICI/Akzo Nobel) was producing low lead level paints. Now four out of eight market leaders, representing 40% of the market would comply with the new Indonesian standard (ICI/Akzo Nobel, Pacific Paint, Jotun, Ace Hardware);

  • Nearly a quarter (15 out of 63) paint brands analysed sold at least one paint with a lead concentration below 90 ppm, suggesting that it is feasible to produce paint without lead in Indonesia;

  • The most dangerous levels of lead tended to be in yellow, orange, red and green coloured paints.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), lead has no essential role in the human body, and lead poisoning accounts for about 0.6% of the global burden of disease. Evidence of reduced intelligence caused by childhood exposure to lead has led WHO to list “lead-caused mental retardation” as a recognised disease. Children, ages 0-6, engaging in normal hand-to-mouth behaviours are most at risk of damage to their intelligence and mental development from exposure to lead dust and soil.

The IPEN Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project has been working with government, the paint industry and the public over the last 3 years to raise awareness of the dangers associated with high lead levels in paint. The Asian Lead Paint Elimination project is being implemented in seven countries (Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand) over a period of 2012-2015. BaliFokus is an implementing partner for the project in Indonesia.

BaliFokus recommends the following actions to continue the efforts to protect Indonesia children from lead exposure.

  • The government should announce the new SNI standard of 600 ppm for decorative paints and set the time frame for this to be compulsory. If possible, the standard should be reviewed in two years and should be revised to 90 ppm;

  • The paint industry should switch immediately to safer paint ingredients such as lead-free pigment and driers that are available in Indonesia;

  • Consumers should ask about the lead content of paints they are purchasing, and, whenever possible, select paints with low lead levels.


Press release document can be downloaded here (English).

The National Report Lead in Indonesia's New Enamel Household Paints can be downloaded here (English/Bahasa)

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