PRESS RELEASE: Protect Our Children from Lead in Paint and Asbestos Exposures


Contact: Sonia Buftheim

HP: +62 877-8237-8890



Paint with Dangerous Lead Levels Widely Sold in All Developing Regions of the World

Jakarta, 24 October 2016 - BaliFokus is conducting a synergy campaign and action to protect children from lead in paint and asbestos exposures in Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Bekasi and Denpasar.

The activities in Indonesia were a part of worldwide activities during International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action (ILPPWA), October 23-29, 2016, co-led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

A report, Global Lead Paint Report[1], released this week by IPEN, also as a part of ILPPWA, found that that many decorative paints sold in over 40 low- and middle income countries where studies have been conducted contained dangerous levels of lead, sometimes in direct violation of national regulation.

“The health impacts of lead exposure on young children’s brains are life long, irreversible and untreatable,” said Yuyun Ismawati, BaliFokus. “By letting the paints with high lead concentration still sold in the market, we are limiting our children and our nation’s future intellectual development. Safe and effective alternatives are already in use and widely available in Indonesia. We must reduce this critical source of lead exposure to young children.”

“Continued use of lead paint is a primary source of childhood lead exposure,” said Dr. Sara Brosché, IPEN’s Global Lead Paint Elimination Campaign Manager. “Children – especially those under 6 years of age – ingest or inhale lead through exposure to dust or soil contaminated with lead-based paint and normal hand-to-mouth behaviour or when they chew on toys, household furniture or other articles painted with lead paint. Governments should set mandatory limits on lead in paint, but paint companies do not need to wait for regulation; they can and should act now.”

In a statement prepared for this year’s ILPPWA, Dr. Maria Neira Director of the Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health for the World Health Organisation (WHO) said: “Exposure to lead poses a significant hazard to human health, especially for children. There is no need to add lead to paint - safer alternative chemicals can be used. The best way to ensure the availability of lead-safe paint is for countries to put in place laws, regulations or mandatory standards that prohibit the manufacture, import, export, sale or use of lead paint.”

BaliFokus has conducted 2 studies in 2013 and 2015. The first study[2] involving 76 samples of 43 brands of decorative enamel paint in Indonesia market, showed approximately 77% of the paint tested contained lead of more than 90 ppm and the highest record was 116,000 ppm. The second study[3], involving 121 samples of 63 brands, showed approximately 83% of the samples tested contained lead above 90 ppm and the highest was 102,000 ppm.

Retired Professor of chemistry Dr. Paul Connett, who studied lead poisoning in the 1970s, and is speaking on Zero Waste on a tour of Indonesia says, “It is hard to believe that leaded paint is still used in Indonesia as it was banned in the US in 1978! Even very low levels of lead exposure have been shown to affect a child's mental development. It is criminal in my view to allow the continued use of lead in paint when other countries have found safer alternatives. Indonesia does not have to poison its children in this way.”

Various governmental agencies have welcomed the NGO advocacy for lead paint elimination. Since BaliFokus began investigating lead in decorative paint, a new standard of solvent-based paint SNI 8011: 2014 has been released by the Badan Standarisasi Nasional, stipulated a voluntary 600 ppm standard for lead concentration in paint sold in the Indonesian market.

Tuti Mintarsih, Director General of Waste and Hazardous Substances from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Indonesia stated that, “Indonesia is among the countries that have made efforts to protect its population and the environment from lead pollution. Therefore, various efforts have been done and on-going programs are currently implemented to eliminate lead in paint by 2020.”

Most highly industrial countries adopted laws or regulations to control the lead content of decorative paints—the paints used on the interiors and exteriors of homes, schools, and other child-occupied facilities—beginning in the 1970s and 1980s. The strictest standard, 90 ppm total lead content in decorative paint, is common in many countries, including the Philippines, Nepal and the United States of America. Several other countries, including Singapore and Sri Lanka, have a 600 ppm total lead standard.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) calls lead paint “a major flashpoint” for children’s potential lead poisoning and says that “since the phase-out of leaded petrol, lead paint is one of the largest sources of exposure to lead in children.” Children are exposed to lead, when painted surfaces deteriorate over time and contaminate household dust and soils. Children, 0-6 year of age, 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.

Additionally, asbestos dusts exposures are also prominent in children’s education facilities. Although various relevant ministries in Indonesia has issued regulations and standards and classify asbestos as a Hazardous Materials Toxic (B3), until today asbestos is still permitted to be produced and used for various purposes. Some early childhood education centres even used asbestos to roof the children.

Asbestos dust exposures can be minimised by applying lead-free water-based or enamel-based coating/paints. Therefor, this campaign aimed to demonstrate the synergy action to protect children’s health from lead-paint and asbestos dusts exposures. In this campaign, BaliFokus collaborates with several paint manufacturers to paint a selected schools in 5 cities.



Yuyun Ismawati

Senior advisor

WA +44 7583 768707, HP +62812 8829201


Skype: yuyun.ismawati

Sonia Buftheim

Toxics Program Officer

HP/WA: +62 877-8237-8890


Skype: sonia_buftheim

BaliFokus is a non-governmental organisation working and advocating a better quality of life and the quality of the environment together with the stakeholders towards a toxics-free future. BaliFokus is an active participating organisation of IPEN (International POPs Elimination Network). URL:, Twitter: @BaliFokus


Sara Brosche

Global Lead Paint Elimination Project Manager

Ph. +46 704 035816


Skype: sara.ipen

Manny Calonzo

Global Lead Paint Elimination Project Advisor

Ph. +632-4411846


Skype: mannycalonzo

IPEN is an international NGO network comprises of 700 organisations in 116 countries that work to reduce and eliminate hazardous, toxic substances internationally and within their own countries. URL:, Twitter: @ToxicsFree


The Press Release document can be downloaded here.

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