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EPA seeks views on reducing lead levels allowed in paints

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is calling for submissions on changes to rules for lead levels in paints and art materials, such as chalk, crayons, and felt-tip pens.

The main aim of the proposed updates to group standards that cover these products is to further protect people’s health by reducing the levels of lead allowed in paint.

Group standards are approvals and rules for using a group of hazardous substances of a similar nature, type or use.

The EPA is also looking to adjust the rules for lead levels in art materials that children use, including chalk and watercolour paints, to further protect them from exposure to this substance.

At high levels, lead can cause serious health effects, such as permanent damage to the brain and nervous system, anaemia and kidney damage. It is also toxic to plants, animals, and microorganisms.

“Fortunately, the risk of lead poisoning from paints or graphic materials currently on the market is very low. We’re proposing to update the group standards as a precaution – to ensure our rules are as robust as possible, and to align with similar international regulators,” says Dr Chris Hill, General Manager of Hazardous Substances and New Organisms.

“We are continually working to ensure people and the environment are protected, by assessing the rules for hazardous substances and adjusting them when needed.”

The current lead level limit for paint is 0.1% (1000 parts per million/ppm).

The proposed changes would reduce this to 0.009% (90ppm), in line with countries including Australia, Canada and the United States.

This consultation enables the wider public and people in relevant industries to provide additional information and feedback on the proposed changes.

Submitters can provide information, make comments, and raise issues to contribute to the EPA decision-making process.

Submissions close at 11:59pm on 26 January 2024.

Read more about the public consultation on changing lead levels in paints


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