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IPPIC participates in proactive meeting with United Nations Environmental Program on lead activities.

The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) recently approved a new alliance initiative under the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) aimed at promoting curtailment of the use of lead in paints. This effort, to be administered jointly by UNEP and the World Health Organization (WHO), is engaging organizations sharing an interest in lead risk reduction from paint.

The International Paint and Printing Ink Council (IPPIC)--for which ACA serves as Secretariat--is serving as the industry lead in the partnership, and actively participated as such at the initial meeting of the partnership beginning on May 25, along with some 30 participating organizations. IPPIC is seeking to advance awareness of current risk management practices, as well as legislative and regulatory requirements on lead-based paint.

At the meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, a number of organizational and administrative steps were taken to advance the goals of the alliance. Specific work plans aimed at pursuing alliance goals are under development in four key areas: Industry Outreach, Legislation and Regulation, Health Effects, and Environmental Issues. Follow-up meetings with the UNEP and WHO Secretariat are anticipated to organize and advance the work plan objectives.

It is anticipated that IPPIC will play a critical role in developing industry messaging on product stewardship with respect to limiting use of lead in coatings, provide insight on residual (i.e., "not intentionally added") lead content, and assist in crafting a framework for developing legislative and certification programs. ACA, through its Product Stewardship Committee, will seek to advise IPPIC on the U.S. experience to foster a consistent approach to that found in the United States. ACA's Board and Executive Committee will be consulted on critical industry positions.


The new alliance is one of a number of recent UNEP efforts to establish a chemicals management framework for a chemical of concern, with programs now underway on mercury in products, and lead additives in gasoline. As the focus this time is on "lead in paint," it is important for the coatings industry that any initiative be established in a fair and equitable manner. That being said, IPPIC members support limitations on lead use in paints where there is the potential for exposure and health risks to children and will work to promote this understanding among partnership participants.

Citing the inherent dangers of lead in paint, environmental NGOs have long advocated UN action to limit lead use, fostering a climate of substitution and use reduction as originally envisioned during the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. Some years ago, when the effort was first proposed, the U.S. Council for International Business worked closely with the International Chamber of Commerce to amend language that would have supported bans, restrictions, and other actions against chemicals based solely on the hazards they manifest. As it stands now, any lead restrictions contemplated under the alliance would need to align with a risk-based approach.

IPPIC has formally committed to assist the alliance in several critical areas:

* Information exchange on lead levels in paints in various countries;

* Information exchange on national, provincial, state, and local regulations and legislations on lead concentrations in paints allowed in various countries;

* Information exchange on labeling and certification systems on the presence and concentrations of lead in paint;

* Discussing and providing technical assistance on steps that can be taken to phase out lead from paints and surface coatings;

* Developing guidelines for establishing national standards;

* Providing international support to developing countries by further elaboration of methods to enact comprehensive laws to phase out lead paint uses which contribute to childhood exposure;

* Sharing knowledge on the availability of substitutes to replace lead compounds in paints;

* Assessing the feasibility of the voluntarily phase-out of the production of lead paints; and

* Discussion on steps to reach renovators, painters, and other professionals on how to minimize children's exposure to lead from lead paint.

It should be noted that individual association members of IPPIC have considerable experience that may be offered in many of the above identified areas.

IPPIC acknowledges that the alliance must establish a working definition of lead paint that will help focus activities on uses that contribute to the health risks of concern. In IPPIC's initial commitment letter, respectfully suggested the UN consider a revised definition that is consistent with industry trade practice:
 "The term 'lead paint' includes paints, varnishes, lacquers, stains,
 enamels, glazes, primers, or coatings used for any purposes where
 lead is intentionally added to achieve a defined lead concentration
 expressed as a percentage of the total non-volatile portion of the
 product or in the weight of the dried paint film."

For more information: contact ACA's Steve Sides (
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Title Annotation:ACA Update
Publication:JCT CoatingsTech
Date:Aug 1, 2010
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