The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has published guidance on lead paint law compliance and enforcement, which are critical for the effective implementation of laws limiting lead in paint. The report outlines actions governments could take to ensure compliance with and enforcement of lead paint laws. The guidance also provides examples of actions that paint manufacturers and importers can take to demonstrate compliance.

Paint containing lead poses significant risks to both human health and the environment, which lead paint laws can help protect. The Lead Paint Law Compliance and Enforcement Guidance helps governments develop and implement compliance and enforcement strategies for lead paint laws. It describes elements of such strategies and examples from countries that have enacted lead paint laws. Since governments vary in their approaches to foster compliance with their lead paint laws, the Guidance is intended to be adaptable to different legal systems and regulatory structures.

The guidance document lays out several actions to foster compliance with lead paint laws. These include drafting clear, enforceable lead paint laws that clarify who is regulated, what types of paint are regulated, the lead limit, when requirements become mandatory, and how to document compliance. It draws attention to UNEP’s 2018 Model Law and Guidance for Regulating Lead Paint, which includes sample legal text for provisions aimed at advancing effective implementation and enforcement of lead paint laws, that many countries have used in developing their own laws. It mentions opportunities for input from paint manufacturers and consumers as well as other stakeholders, since they can play an important role in developing effective legislation.

In addition, the Guidance discusses compliance promotion, that is when governments share information to foster compliance with a lead paint law. Compliance promotion actions include communicating the requirements of a lead paint law and providing information on reformulating paint and paint testing to the regulated community. This, the document notes, should begin before requirements become mandatory, to allow time to adjust to the new requirements.

With respect to compliance monitoring, the Guidance highlights verification of compliance and detection of violations as essential for effective implementation. Laws, it notes, can require companies to demonstrate their compliance with the lead limit for paints they produce or import. This approach relies on paint manufacturers and importers having samples of each paint, which are subject to testing at a third party-accredited laboratory. Enforcement that relies on self-monitoring often includes documentation requirements, according to the report. For example, a lead paint law may require that paint manufacturers and importers document that their paints meet or are below the legal limit on lead before the import or sale of their paints. Certification is then presented to the government on request or made widely available, which informs consumers and enables retailers to ensure the paints they sell comply with the law. Governments can also undertake inspections at facilities to verify and motivate compliance by detecting violations and gathering evidence to support potential compliance actions, the Guidance suggests.

Finally, the Guidance notes, enforcement fosters compliance and a level playing field by threatening sanctions for violations. Potential government detection of violations and the imposition of sanctions can provide a strong incentive for compliance. Factors that might influence an appropriate enforcement response and sanctions include the extent of deviation from requirements and the degree of harm or risk, among others. Penalty determinations aim to ensure violators do not financially benefit from non-compliance, and can include seizure or recall of paints exceeding the lead limit.

This Guidance was developed under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) project on global best practices on emerging chemical policy issues of concern under the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), funded by the GEF, implemented by UNEP, and executed by the SAICM Secretariat. It was published in March 2023. [Publication: Lead Paint Law Compliance and Enforcement Guidance] [Publication Landing Page