21 October 2019: International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2019 is focusing on eliminating lead in paint to prevent exposure, particularly in children, leading to intellectual disability and death. Regulations to eliminate lead in paint contribute directly to the achievement of SDGs 3 (good health and well-being) and 12 (responsible consumption and production).

Organized by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) through the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paint, International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2019 aims to raise awareness and promote actions to address the human health effects of lead exposure, especially in children. The worldwide event is running from 20-26 October.

The Week highlights countries’ and partners’ efforts to prevent lead poisoning, and urges further action to eliminate lead in paint through regulatory action at country level. By eliminating lead in paint, countries contribute to the achievement of SDG target 3.9 by 2030, by substantially reducing the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals, and SDG target 12.4 by 2020, by achieving the environmentally sound management of chemicals and wastes throughout their life cycle to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.

The UNEP Global Chemicals Outlook II (GCO II) identifies lead in paint as an emerging policy issue. According to the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paint, although lead in paint is a significant and preventable source of lead exposure, in many countries, it is still not prohibited to manufacture and sell paint with lead that can be used in homes and schools. The Alliance notes that it is “significantly more cost-effective” to ban new sources of lead in paint and promote safe alternatives than to remediate contaminated homes, schools and playgrounds. It calls for laws, regulations or enforceable standards in every country to stop the manufacture, import and sale of lead-containing paints.

As the SDG Knowledge Hub reported in September 2019, Israel and Bangladesh recently brought the number of countries with laws that limit lead in paint to 73, yet binding limitations are still lacking in 120 states. International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week calls on governments without legal limits on lead in paint to establish and implement such limits, building on the Model Law and Guidance for Regulating Lead Paint, developed by the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paint. In the meantime, it urges industry in countries where legal limits are not yet in place to voluntarily stop the manufacture, import and sale of paint with lead, and calls on civil society to engage with governments and industry to support development and implementation of legal limits on lead in paint.

Recent workshops under the Lead in Paint Component of a Global Environment Facility (GEF)-supported project on ‘Global Best Practices on Emerging Chemical Policy Issues of Concern Under the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM)’ in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), AfricaCentral and Eastern Europe (CEE) and Central Asia and Asia-Pacific introduced government officials to the Model Law, and enabled multi-stakeholder discussions of barriers to implementation and next steps in specific countries. Launch workshops for National Cleaner Production Centres (NCPC) to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to phase out lead in paint convened in Amman, Jordan, and in Lima, Peru, and another NCPC launch is taking place in Beijing, China, in October 2019. The SAICM/GEF project was launched in January 2019 during an inception workshop in Geneva, Switzerland, and will run through 2021.

You can follow the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2019 campaign on Twitter under the hashtag #ILPPW2019. SDG Knowledge Hub coverage of chemicals of concern related to the SAICM/GEF project, including efforts to eliminate lead in paint, can be found here. [International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2019 Campaign Resource Package] [WHO Webpage Outlining Campaign Objectives] [WHO Event Webpage] [UNEP Event Webpage] [SAICM Event Webpage]