New standards to eradicated toxic paints in Kenya approved

The maximum permissible content of heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, volatile organic compound occurring as contaminants from raw materials used in the manufacture of paints have been specified.

  • Kenya is racing against time to phase out paints with high content of lead additives.

As a compelling need to support and enforce the country’s paint industry to transit from unsafe leaded paints to minimize their devastating health and environmental impacts. The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has approved new standards that will eradicate toxicity in paints.

Lead additives in paints have traditionally been used to enhance drying properties of oil-based, decorative paints; they also give them the much-needed visually appealing gloss, and helps reduce corrosion on painted metal surfaces.

However, their benefits come at a steep cost to human health, especially in children and women  exposure to the heavy metal through the air, soil and food causes brain and nervous system damage, resulting in decreased mental abilities and heightened risks of behavioural problems.

Through the new standards, KEBS has established general and specific requirements for paints that address the issues of toxicity levels to human health, safety and the environment.

The maximum permissible content of heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, volatile organic compound occurring as contaminants from raw materials used in the manufacture of paints have been specified.

Exposure to heavy metals has been proved to lead to negative health impacts such as ill conditions of the respiratory system, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal tissue damage, they interfere with various physiological and biochemical processes.

In the long term, some lead to behavioural problems as they negatively impact neurodevelopment in children.

Therefore, the publication of these standards aims to address this effect on human health, safety and the environment.

“These Standards for paints have been developed in collaboration with the industry, relevant stakeholders in line with international best practice. Subsequently, this will ensure that paints are safe and provide required protection of the environment” says, Lt Col (Rtd.) Bernard Njiraini, Managing Director, KEBS.

The new standards approved for paints are;

  • KS EAS 849:2021 Silk (sheen) emulsion paint for interior use — Specification
  • KS EAS 936:2021 Gloss solvent-borne paint for interior and exterior use — Specification
  • KS EAS 937:2021 Semi-gloss (egg-shell) solvent-borne paint for interior and exterior use — Specification
  • KS EAS 998:2021 Textured paint — Specification
  • KS EAS 999:2021 Drop on materials for road marking paint — Specification