Tanzania: Getting the Lead Out of Paint

Lead in paint is a potent neurological toxin.  Most industrialized countries have recognized the harm caused by childhood exposure to lead and enacted strict regulations to prohibit the use of lead in consumer products, especially paints.

In Tanzania, there are regulations in place but they are not enforced, and children continue being exposed to lead.
ELAW partners at the Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team (LEAT) want to eliminate lead from paint in Tanzania.
ELAW’s legal and science teams are helping LEAT:
1.  Test paint samples.
2.  Document the harm caused by lead.
3.  Advocate for the enforcement of national regulations prohibiting lead in paint.
Adolf Runyoro, Legal Officer at LEAT, completed an ELAW Fellowship in October.  While here, Adolf worked with ELAW staff lawyers, scientists, and development professionals on this initiative and many others.  On his return to Dar es Salaam, Adolf sent test results from five paint samples to ELAW Staff Scientists for analysis.  The results were alarming: Each sample had dangerous levels of lead.
Using this information, LEAT is now working to:
1.  Eliminate lead in paint sold at stores.
2.  Prohibit the production and import of contaminated paint.
3.  Enact robust testing of manufactured and/or imported paint by government inspectors to ensure that consumer paints do not contain toxic metals.
In 2011, ELAW partners in Sri Lanka won a tremendous victory protecting children from toxic lead paint.  We hope to build on that victory and help ELAW partners in Tanzania do the same!
Maggie Keenan
Communications Director & Fellows Program Coordinator