June 2019: A Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) regional workshop aimed to build support for phasing out lead in paint, address the need for effective laws and raise awareness on 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).’

The workshop, which convened in Panama City, Panama, from 12-13 June 2019, provided an overview of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paint’s recommended actions and advice to support the establishment of lead paint laws in the region. It sought to, inter alia, enable participants to exchange views regarding the most effective ways to eliminate lead paint in LAC, and identify next steps toward lead paint elimination in specific countries. Some countries have already taken steps towards eliminating lead in paint, including by establishing technical standards or laws, undertaking lead in paint market studies and forming technical committees.

Among other issues highlighted by the workshop are: an increasing desire to eliminate lead in paint; existing high-level commitments, such as the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Chemicals Road Map; the potential for addressing the issue at the regional and sub-regional levels, for example through the Andean Community (CAN) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM); existing lead in paint data in LAC countries; existing laws or laws under development where regulations of lead in paint can be added; industry and non-governmental organizations’ (NGOs) support in many countries; alternatives to lead additives; and a recommended a legal limit of 90 ppm total lead.

The workshop also highlighted a number of barriers, including limited collaboration between ministries, industry and civil society, competing priorities, and lack of: capacity; continuity of institutional programmes and officers; information and data to make the case for lead in paint laws; tools to determine and enforce lead in paint limits such as resources for testing; and issues related to implementation of lead in paint laws.

Participants identified next steps for countries, including: analyzing situations in countries, including through testing; involving key ministries and focal points; advocacy with decision makers at the national and regional levels; raising awareness regarding the need for lead in paint laws; convening stakeholder consultations on lead in paint; helping paint manufacturers identify alternatives to lead additives; and following up with countries regarding their needs.

Some of the specific presentations made at the workshop also addressed: the health, economic and environmental impacts of lead; lead in paint testing in Mexico and Jamaica; a model law and guidance for regulating lead in paint; the role of civil society in managing lead in paint in Paraguay; relevant legislation in Brazil; alternatives to lead in paint for homes in Colombia; and a case study of collaboration and cooperation with industry in Mexico.

The workshop was organized by the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paint, WHO, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and SAICM.

Regional workshops also convened for: the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and Central Asia region in Almaty, Kazakhstan, from 19-20 March 2019; the African region in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, from 28-29 May; and the Asia-Pacific region in Bangkok, Thailand, from 21-22 August.

National Cleaner Production Centre (NCPC) launching workshops to provide assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on phasing out lead in paint convened in Amman, Jordan, from 31 March to 1 April, and in Lima, Peru, from 18-19 June, while another NCPC launch will take place in Beijing, China, from 16-17 October.

Eliminating lead in paint contributes to the achievement of, among others, SDG target 3.9 (reducing the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals, pollution and contamination) and SDG target 12.4 (achieving the environmentally sound management of chemicals and wastes and reducing their release to minimize adverse health and environmental impacts). [Lead in Paint Information on SAICM Website] [Information about the Lead in Paint Component of SAICM/GEF Project] [Lead in Paint Component Briefing Note] [2018 Update on the Global Status of Legal Limits on Lead in Paint] [Lead Infographics]


To combat lead poisoning and use, the Lead in Paint Component of the SAICM/GEF Project promotes regulatory and voluntary action by government and industry to phase out lead in paint. It seeks to achieve this by working with: governments to support the development of lead paint regulations; and SMEs to promote phasing out use of lead additives. The project seeks to achieve lead paint regulation in at least 40 countries and phase out lead from production processes of approximately 50 SME paint manufacturers. The project was launched in January 2019 during an inception workshop in Geneva, Switzerland, and will run through 2021.

In addition, UNEP and WHO established the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint to prevent children’s exposure and minimize occupational exposure to lead paints. The Alliance aims to phase out the manufacture and sale of lead paints and eliminate their risks. Each year, it organizes the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.

Lead-containing paint is one of the major sources of lead exposure for children globally, and was identified as an Emerging Policy Issue by the SAICM. Lead poisoning causes intellectual disabilities in approximately 600,000 children every year and can have lifelong health impacts. No known level of lead exposure is considered safe for adults or children.