Lead-free paints difficult proposition

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INTERVIEW

Mr Bishwa Saakha
President, Nepal Paints Manufacturers´ Association

Do you admit that paints available in Nepali market contain lead?

Yes, and I think many people are aware of it. And many studies were also conducted that showed there is lead contamination in paints. But, I don´t think this issue is very pressing. Lead is also found even in vermilion powder. Do people stop using vermillion powder even after knowing that it contains lead? No, and the same goes for our paints, too.

Do you mean lead contaminated paints are usable? Aren´t they harmful?
No, I don´t mean to say that. Lead contaminated paints are certainly harmful for humans. But we don´t have other options right now and our unstable government cannot afford to go for other alternatives. And another major problem is that the market is flooded with imported paints and lead content is high in most of these paints compared to Nepalese-manufactured paints. Our country is like dumping site for other countries as they dump all the lead contaminated paints in Nepal.

So, what could be its proper solution?
First, the government should inquire about all the imported paints and formulate policy accordingly. Only then can we think about lead-free paint in Nepal. But I don´t think the government is currently in position to resolve the problem.

Is there any plan of our association to solve lead poisoning in paints? 
The problem cannot be resolved until and unless the people themselves become aware about the health hazards associated with lead and are ready to pay for lead-free technology, which is relatively costlier.

Also the factories that manufacture paints do not have technology and funds for manufacturing lead-free paints. Merely putting pressure on the paints manufacturers to go for lead-free technology does not work because both the manufacturers and the customers in Nepal should first be able to afford such technology.

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