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europe-not  UNEP ON THE GROUND
Europe not exempt from lead risks – Dr Speranskaya

The pan-European region is not exempt to the health risks posed by lead in paint – yet products containing the heavy metal can easily be replaced at low cost, renowned Russian scientist Dr Olga Speranksaya has underlined in an exclusive interview.


A UN Environment Champion of the Earth in 2011, Dr Speranskaya is known worldwide for her work to reduce the harmful impact of toxic chemicals in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.


While lead compounds are banned from products used by consumers in the European Union, other countries - especially from the above-mentioned regions - still face significant problems associated with lead paint, Dr Speranskaya warns.


As co-chair of the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN), the scientist has helped NGOs implement more than 70 projects on toxic chemicals in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.


“This year we (IPEN) analyzed paint samples from nine Eastern European, Caucasian and Central Asian countries. Unfortunately, lead contents in many samples substantially exceed the most progressive regulation of 90 ppm adopted in the US, Canada, the Philippines and Nepal,” Dr Speranskaya explained.


“I believe that the situation with lead paint in Eastern European, Caucasian and Central Asian states is the result of poor legislation and enforcement,” she stressed, with seven countries in the region currently lacking regulations against lead in paint.


However, more lead-free paints are now available on the market, the award-winning scientist notes. The cost of replacing lead in paint is furthermore low: “paint manufacturers in many countries have told us that the cost of replacing lead in paint is very low, and can easily be done without raising product prices,” she reveals.


Adoption of a 90 parts per million standard for lead in paint – the threshold set in many of the most progressive countries - would simplify international trade and prevent the deliberate addition of lead compounds to indoor decorative paints, says Dr Speranskaya.


To read the full interview – including more advice on governments seeking to stamp the heavy metal out of paint - please click here.

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