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The Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) will begin a crackdown on paint manufacturers who flout regulations on lead content next week and resort to pulling certain brands off the shelves, CAA’s Information Director Chandrika Thilakaratne said.

“We are collecting samples of paint and will test them to verify if they contain the high levels of lead which is revealed in a new research,” she said.

Tilakaratne added that there was a legal ruling which prevented manufacturers from including more than the permitted limit of lead in paint.

She said that products which don’t meet the criterion will be taken off the shelves indefinitely.

She added that if manufactures do not comply with these regulations, the CAA will resort to legal action.

According to the gazette notification 1725/30, the maximum lead level in enamel paints should not exceed 600 ppm. Gazette No 1875/38 dated 15th August 2014 published by the CAA requires printing the lead concentration of products to benefit consumers.

A report published by the Center for Environmental Justice based on the ‘Asian Lead Paint Elimination project’, reveals that paints with high lead concentrations are still sold. “We also found that label standards recommended by the CAA to include content of lead in the paint were not followed,” said Executive Director of the C.E.J Hemantha Withanage.

There are over 70 paint producers locally, but six major players control 97% of the market place.

The size of the paint market is valued at Rs.15 billion and 30-35 million liters in volume per annum. Decorate and industrial paint segments contribute 85% and 15% respectively, to the total volume.

The CEJ has made several recommendations to check the lead contends in paint. Some of them are; Mandatory labeling, a mandatory framework to stop the importation of low quality raw materials, Implementing a strong monitoring system, providing analytical facilities for manufactures at low cost and implementing regulations on lead in paint through inspection of all factory conditions.

The highest lead concentration found was 44,000 ppm. Samples from 26 out of 56 paints had lead levels high than the stipulated 600 ppm and 12 paints had more than 10,000 ppm.