by IISD’s SDG Knowledge Hub ,

The ninth International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (ILPPW) is focusing on the need to accelerate progress towards the global phase out of lead paint through regulatory and legal measures. Action is urgently needed as over 55% of countries still permit the manufacture and sale of lead paint, presenting a continuing and future source of lead exposure for children and workers.

The week is taking place several months after the UN Environment Programme announced that the use of lead in petrol gas had ended around the world, following a multistakeholder campaign that began in 2002. Leaded petrol was the world’s largest source of lead pollution. UNEP reports there is an urgent need to stop pollution from lead in paints, batteries, and household items. 

Lead exposure affects the neurological, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and haematological systems. Young children are particularly vulnerable since lead affects the developing brain and can result in reduced intellectual ability. According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, lead exposure in 2019 accounted for an estimated 0.90 million deaths and 21.7 million years lost to disability and death due to long-term health effects, particularly in developing countries. 

ILPPW 2021 is taking place from 24-30 October. ILPPW aims to: raise awareness about the health impacts of lead exposure; highlight efforts to prevent exposure, particularly in children; and spur further action to eliminate lead paint through regulatory action at the country level. Governments, civil society organizations, health partners, industry, and others are encouraged to organize campaigns during this week of action using customizable materials, including posters, web banners, and multimedia materials. A list of registered events provides details of events taking place in more than 35 countries thus far.

ILPPW is an initiative of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint (the Lead Paint Alliance), which is jointly led by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The Lead Paint Alliance was established in 2011 to promote the global phase-out of lead paint through developing legally binding measures, such as  to stop the manufacture, import, export, distribution, sale and use of lead paints in every country. It works towards the global phase-out of paints containing lead to prevent children’s exposure and to minimize occupational exposure to lead from paint.

Eliminating lead paint will contribute to achieving SDG targets: 3.9 (reducing the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination; and 12.4 (achieving the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle and reducing their release to air, water, and soil to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment).

The Lead Paint Alliance has produced a document to provide guidance and tools to support advocacy or awareness-raising activities to build momentum for countries to develop, adopt, and implement legally binding measures, such as laws, regulations, and standards. The document builds on the experience of the Lead Paint Alliance in its ILPPW campaign, as well as communication guidance developed by WHO. [SDG Knowledge Hub Coverage of the ILPPW 2020] [SDG Knowledge Hub Coverage of the ILPPW 2019] [Report on Activities During ILPPW 2020]