Jamaica News: The Caribbean Poison Information Network (CarPIN) is calling for regulations or legislation that will place a limit on lead paint in Jamaica.
This call precedes International Lead Poisoning Week, to be observed from October 22 to 26, under the theme ‘Regulating Lead Exposure: Protecting Our Children’.
Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ today (October 16), Poison Information Coordinator at CarPIN, Sherika Whitelocke-Ballingsingh, explained that the organisation has been gathering information in tandem with the International Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS) Elimination Network (IPEN).
“For the past three months (July to September) IPEN, which is an international non-governmental organisation (NGO), and CarPIN have carried out a study in Jamaica to analyse how much lead we have in our paint,” she said.
The report from the study will be released to the Government and to the public for viewing during International Lead Poisoning Week.
Mrs. Whitelocke-Ballingsingh pointed out that reducing and eliminating lead as one of the most hazardous chemicals is a global campaign, which also involves the United Nations Environment and the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Our appeal to the Government during International Lead Poisoning Week is to ban the use of lead in paints that are manufactured locally and to restrict the importation of paints that have lead into Jamaica,” she explained.
She warned that the effects of lead poisoning when it accumulates in the body are irreversible and that children are the most vulnerable.
Mrs. Whitelocke-Ballingsingh said that paint is most harmful when it is stripping from the wall or when it is scraped in preparation for repainting.
“Ingesting paint chips that are peeling from the wall can be particularly harmful since the lead content can be higher than what is typically found in ordinary dust and soil,” she said, adding that children may pick up the paint chips and put it in their mouths or chew on toys that are painted with lead paint and directly ingest the poisonous substance.
“We believe that if we can restrict lead in paint, we can protect children through different avenues, so we would no longer have lead in toys or in decorative paints being used in homes or at school or in playground areas where children are,” she said.
The Poison Information Coordinator informed that based on some of the effects exposure to lead has had on children, the WHO in 2010 classified lead poisoning under mental retardation disease for children. She further explained that it has a debilitating effect on brain development in children.
According to the WHO, at high levels of acute exposure, lead attacks the brain and central nervous system to cause coma, convulsions and even death, and children who survive acute lead poisoning are typically left with grossly obvious mental retardation and behavioural disruption.
Mrs. Whitelocke-Ballingsingh said that the most effective way of combatting the lead-poisoning issue is to have a regulatory framework in place.
In observance of International Lead Poisoning Week, a public forum will be held at the University of Technology on Thursday, October 25, from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Members of the public are invited to attend.
Source: JIS News