Scientific Letter

Lead levels of new solvent-based household paints in Zimbabwe and Botswana: A preliminary study

Rose A. Kambarami, Lucia L. Coulter, Louisa Chikara Mudawarima, Gwen Kandawasvika, Jack Rafferty, Clare Donaldson, Benjamin Stewart
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 14, No 1 | a3486 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v14i1.3486 | © 2022 Rose A. Kambarami, Lucia L. Coulter, Louisa Chikara Mudawarima, Gwen Kandawasvika, Jack Rafferty, Clare Donaldson, Benjamin Stewart | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 February 2022 | Published: 30 August 2022

About the author(s)

Rose A. Kambarami, Child and Adolescent Health Unit, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe
Lucia L. Coulter, Lead Exposure Elimination Project, London, United Kingdom
Louisa Chikara Mudawarima, Child and Adolescent Health Unit, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe
Gwen Kandawasvika, Child and Adolescent Health Unit, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe
Jack Rafferty, Lead Exposure Elimination Project, London, United Kingdom
Clare Donaldson, Lead Exposure Elimination Project, London, United Kingdom
Benjamin Stewart, Lead Exposure Elimination Project, London, United Kingdom


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Abstract

Background: Lead paint remains a major potential source of lead poisoning globally, but there has been no documentation on lead content in solvent paints available on the markets in Zimbabwe and Botswana.

Aim: To determine the lead content of solvent-based paints available on the market in Zimbabwe and Botswana and identify a need for a larger study to inform policy.

Methods: This pilot study was conducted in Harare, Zimbabwe, and Gaborone, Botswana. Popular brands of solvent-based household paints were bought from hardware shops in Harare (10 samples) and Gaborone (19 samples). Samples were analysed for lead content using inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrometry.

Results: Seventy percent of samples from Zimbabwe were found to contain lead above 90 parts per million (ppm), the recommended regulatory limit, with ranges from less than 60 ppm to 12 000 ppm. Twenty percent of Zimbabwean samples had lead levels above 10 000 ppm. No samples from Botswana had lead concentration above the detection limit, with all levels below 100 ppm.

Lesson Learnt: Data strongly suggest very high lead content in popular brands of solvent paints in Zimbabwe, indicating a need for a larger, well-designed study for policy direction.


Keywords

lead exposure; lead paint; lead poisoning; lead paint elimination; environmental health; toxic metals.

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