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Painting a future with fewer crimes

Central, East European and Central Asian countries have made a stand about the risks of lead in paint during the international lead poisoning prevention week of action on 23-29 October.


Following the successful phase-out of lead in petrol - preventing more than 1.2 million premature deaths a year and reducing lead in blood levels by at least 90 per cent –a strong drive has taken place to eliminate lead in paint.


Not only did the elimination of lead in petrol improve health, it lowered crime. Since lead is attributed to antisocial behaviour, it was estimated that 58 million crimes were avoided by the removal of lead in petrol – saving $2.4 trillion each year.


The international week of action aimed to portray the remaining issues with lead worldwide. In the pan-European region, a flash mob, series of lectures and art competition was held to raise awareness throughout Albania - thanks to the Environmental Center for Development, Education and Networking. Posters, seminars and presentations meanwhile attracted the attention of medical students, kindergartens and hospitals across Tbilisi, Georgia.


Meetings with paint store owners took place across Moscow, Russia; in an attempt to move businesses away from selling lead paint. Additionally, Azerbaijan held a press conference about household paints and health.


Lead is known for corroding societies and economies worldwide. According to the World Health Organisation, 0.6 per cent of the global burden of disease is instigated by lead. Lead exposure can cause learning disabilities, antisocial behaviour, reduced fertility and a heightened risk of renal and cardiovascular disease.


Children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning. Every year there are 600,000 new diagnoses of children with intellectual disability caused by lead poisoning, as reported by the World Health Organisation.


Earlier this year, UN Environment and the Government of the Republic of Moldova hosted a regional workshop that gave 17 countries tools to combat lead poisoning. At the time of the event, only five of those countries had legally-binding controls on lead in paint in place but some have since signalled their intention to develop them.


To read an interview with renowned Russian scientist Dr Olga Speranskaya on lead in paint in the pan-European region, click here.

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