United Nations experts and government officials discussed the health and economic impacts of lead exposure and the need to advance on lead paint legislation in the Caribbean during a webinar on April 7.
Lead exposure is toxic to humans, and lead paint poses a significant risk of poisoning, especially to young children. As lead paint deteriorates, children can inhale or ingest the metal through household dust, paint chips, and contaminated soil.
The webinar was convened jointly by UN Environment, the Pan-American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation and the US Environmental Protection Agency.
According to UN Environment reports, while many countries have long-established bans on lead paint, it is still legal to sell lead paint in 70% of countries around the world for homes, schools, and toys. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has already established a voluntary lead paint standard, though only two countries in the sub-region have mandatory lead paint laws.
Experts stressed during the webinar that there is simply no safe level of lead exposure. Affected children could suffer reduced IQs, learning disabilities, anemia, and poor coordination, visual, spatial and language skills. The economy also suffers as the negative health impacts in children correlate with a decrease in their ability to earn a living during their lifetime.
UN Environment and WHO/PAHO jointly lead the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, an initiative that assists governments to achieve the goal of enacting lead paint laws by 2020.
The lead exposure will be one of the key issues at the third United Nations Environment Assembly to be held in Kenya in December.
For more on this story go to: http://web.unep.org/americalatinacaribe/en/webinar-elimination-lead-paint-caribbean-countries