While the use of lead paint in North America has been restricted for decades, many countries around the world continue to allow paint containing high levels of lead in homes and public buildings. Lead paint is also used in toys, jewelry, furniture and playground equipment. Through the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) aims to phase-out the manufacture and sale of lead paint globally by 2020.
Paint containing lead additives poses a risk of lead poisoning, especially for young children. As paint deteriorates over time, children may inhale or ingest lead through household dust, paint chips or contaminated soil.
Research demonstrates childhood lead exposure can adversely affect neurological development, potentially reducing IQ levels and increasing the risk of attention deficit disorder and aggression. There is no known safe level of lead exposure.
The Lead Paint Alliance is a joint initiative between UNEP and the World Health Organization which aims to prevent exposure to lead, while promoting the phase-out of paints containing lead globally by 2020. The Lead Paint Alliance is chaired by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
All partners participate every October in the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action to raise awareness and mobilize political and social commitment to address the issue.