Danger Lurking Around You In The Form of Paint?


The use of lead paint in developed countries has decreased tremendously, but not in most Asian countries. The level of awareness about the dangers of lead is still low and it is essential to be aware and informed about how it can affect the well-being of your family.  

Why is lead paint dangerous to your family?

Despite the fact that lead is a substance that helps in creating a good and durable paint, researchers discovered that lead in paint gives negative health implications to people (especially kids, pregnant ladies, and unborn children). Lead has been recognised as a hazardous substance in paint since the 1960s.

So what are the side effects of lead paint?

Inhaling lead-contaminated air or accidentally consuming traces of lead can affect a person’s health, regardless of their age.

In case of younger children (toddlers), too much exposure and consumption of lead content could cause lead poisoning.

What are the symptoms of lead poisoning?

Symptoms of lead poisoning in young children include: developmental delays, learning difficulties, irritability, loss of appetite, weight loss, sluggishness and fatigue, abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, hearing loss and seizures.

Better Health Channel discussed that children of age below than 5 years old are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure because:

  • They frequently put their hands and toys into their mouths

  • They absorb and retain more lead from the gut and airways than adults do

  • Their developing brains are more sensitive to the effects of lead

Although adults are not as vulnerable as the toddlers, exposure to small amount of lead for a long period of time could cause high blood pressure, joint and muscle pain, difficulties with memory or concentration and headaches.

At a more serious level, lead poisoning in adults can cause damage to their internal organs such as the liver, kidneys, and brain. If a pregnant lady is exposed to high lead content, it could be dangerous to the unborn child as well. According to World Health Organization,

“Exposure of pregnant women to high levels of lead can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight, as well as minor malformations.”

The danger of lead is a serious matter. Back in 2007, Mattel, the biggest toy company made two product recalls involving more than 1.4 million toys when they discovered that some of the toy range manufactured in China factory are covered with lead paint.

 Why lead is added into paint?

According to Chemistry World, lead is added into paint for various purposes. These include:

  • Making the paint water resistant with a durable, washable finish

  • Pigmentation (colouring) purpose

  • Neutralising the acidic decomposition products of some of the oils that make up the paint, so the coating stays tough, yet flexible and crack-resistant, for longer

Now the big question - Is lead paint available and used in Malaysia?

Unfortunately, the answer is YES. According to a research titled Lead In The New Enamel Household Paints In Malaysia by The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP),

lead paint

“Sixteen out of 39 enamel decorative paints (41 percent of paints) contained a total lead concentration above 600 ppm. Moreover, twelve paints (31 percent of paints) contained dangerously high concentrations of lead above 10,000 ppm. The highest lead concentration detected was 150,000 ppm, whilst the lowest was less than 60 ppm.”

The paint samples for this research were bought from shops in Kedah and Penang. This shows that lead paints are still available in the Malaysian market.

Also highlighted in the research,

"...paint can labels did not carry meaningful information about lead content or the hazards of paint with high lead content and some paints with high lead concentrations were falsely advertised as being “low lead”."

It is very important for consumers to read and understand the label before making any purchase.

What should you do to keep your family safe from lead?

If you suspect that the current paint around your house has lead content, it would be best to repaint your house.

However, you must not do it yourself if you are not an expert. A lot of equipment is needed to get rid of lead paint. Safety precautions must be taken to ensure the air and surrounding area are not contaminated with lead during and after the repaint work is done.

Professional painters would know the safest way to handle lead paint such as using techniques of wet scraping, wet hand sanding or heat stripping. The flakes and dust from the paint would be very dangerous if inhaled or consumed by children and adults.

Need a professional to help you remove old paint and give you advice? Visit Recomn.com and hire a trusted service professional to get the job done.

This article was contributed by Najibah of Recomn.com

Hridya Anand

by Hridya Anand

A biochemist by education who could never put what she studied to good use, finally found GetDoc as a medium to do what she loved - bring information to people using a forum that is dedicated to all things medical. View all articles by Hridya Anand.


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