Policy Statement Database

New Search »

Calling for a Global Ban on Lead Use in Residential Indoor and Outdoor Paints, Children’s Products, and All Nonessential Uses in Consumer Products

Policy Date: 11/5/2007
Policy Number: LB-07-01

Lead is a malleable metal previously used to improve the durability, color luster, and drying of paint used in homes and other buildings.1 Lead is also found in some commonly imported consumer products, including toys, children’s furniture, candy, folk and traditional medicines, ceramic dinnerware and trinkets.2 Exposure to lead in toy jewelry has resulted in childhood fatality.3 Lead in paint has been scientifically linked to harm and impaired intellectual and physical growth in children.4–8

Recent reports have found that major countries, including India, China, Malaysia, and Nigeria, still produce and sell consumer paints with dangerously high lead levels (well over 100,000 parts per million compared with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission Standard of 600 parts per million).9,10 Some paint manufacturers are aggressively marketing lead-based paints in countries without enforcement of lead-content restrictions.11

Currently, 38 million US housing units have lead-based paint, of which 24 million have significant lead-based paint hazards.12,13 In 1978, the United States restricted lead content in paint after determining that people were being exposed to environmental hazards through lead in residential and toy paint.14 It is well known that there are lower toxicity substitutes for lead in paint, such as titanium dioxide.

The American Public Health Association (APHA) has previously issued policy statements regarding childhood lead poisoning.15–21 Therefore, APHA believes that continued lead-based paint production poses a global public health threat that is entirely preventable and urges—

A worldwide ban on the continued use of residential lead-based paint is urgently needed to avoid future public health problems.

The removal of lead content in all paint and in all children’s products.

The elimination of all nonessential uses of lead in all consumer products in all countries and urges US companies that may have ties with companies in other countries that produce leaded paints, children’s products, and consumer products containing nonessential lead to require them to cease such use immediately.

Agencies of the US federal government, including, but not limited to, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Commerce, be directed to enforce a ban on the manufacture, import, distribution, and sale of all children’s and consumer products containing nonessential lead and that such agencies be provided with the adequate human, financial, and other resources necessary to carry out this mandate.

A robust and effective monitoring and quality control and quality assurance program initiated by both government and the private sector to ensure that such products are not manufactured, imported, distributed, or sold by companies doing business in the United States or affiliated or otherwise doing business with any corporate entity in or outside the United States.

The expeditious completion by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and ASTM International of a lead-in-vinyl standard.

Urges that all trade agreements between US corporations and overseas corporations and all global trade agreements completed by the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and other entities include provisions that formally and effectively ban the use of lead in residential paint and children’s products and that all such agreements should ban the nonessential use of lead in all consumer products.


1. HUD Guidelines for the Evaluation and Control of Lead Based Paint Hazards in Housing. Chapter 1. Washington, DC: US Department of Housing and Urban Development; 1995. Available at: http://www.hud.gov/offices/lead/lbp/hudguidelines/index.cfm. Accessed December 8, 2007.
2. Heneman K, Zidenberg-Cherr S. Is lead toxicity still a risk to U.S. children? California Agriculture. 2006;60:4180–4184.
3. Berg KK, Hull HF, Zabel EW, Staley PK, Brown MJ, Homa DM. Death of a child after ingestion of a Metallic charm—Minnesota, 2006. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2006;55(12):340–341. Available at: www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm55d323a1.htm. Accessed December 8, 2007.
4. National Academy of Sciences. 1993. Measuring lead exposure in infants, children, and other sensitive populations. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1993.
5. Lanphear B, Matte T, Rogers J, et al. The contribution of lead-contaminated house dust and residential soil to children’s blood lead levels: a pooled analysis of 12 epidemiological studies. Environ Res. 1998;79:51–68.
6. Jacobs DE. 1995. Lead paint as a major source of childhood lead poisoning: A review of the evidence. In: Beard M, Iske AS, eds. Lead in Paint, Soil and Dust: Health Risks, Exposure Studies, Control Measures and Quality Assurance. ASTM Special Technical Publication 1226. Philadelphia: American Society for Testing and Materials; 1995:175–187.
7. Needleman HL, Gunnoe C, Leviton A, Reed R, Peresie H, Mager C, Barrett P. Deficits in psychologic and classroom performance of children with elevated dentine lead levels. N Engl J Med. 1979;300:689–695.
8. Lanphear BP, Hornung R, Khoury J. Low-level environmental lead exposure and children’s intellectual function: an international pooled analysis. Environ Health Perspect. 2005;113:894–899.
9. Clark CS, Rampal KG, Thuppil V, Chen CK, Clark R, Roda S. The lead content of currently available residential paint in several Asian countries. Environ Res. 2006;102:9–12
10. Adebamowo EB, Clark CS, Roda S, Agbede OA, Sridhar MKC, Adebamowo CA. Lead content of dried films of domestic paint currently sold in Nigeria. Sci Total Environ. 2007; 388(1–3):116–120.
11. Kumar A. Brush with toxics: An investigation on lead in household paints in India. Toxics Link. 2007. Available at: http://www.toxicslink.org/mediapr-view.php?pressrelnum=82. Accessed December 11, 2007.
12. Jacobs DE, Clickner RL, Zhou JY, et al. The prevalence of lead-based paint hazards in U.S. housing. Environ Health Perspect. 2002;110:A599–A606.
13. US Department of Housing and Urban Development. National survey of lead and allergens in housing. Analysis of Lead Hazards. US Department of Housing and Urban Devlopment: Washington, DC; 2002, vol. 1.
14. Consumer Product Safety Commission. 1977. Ban of lead containing paint and certain consumer products bearing lead-based paint. 42 Federal Register 44199 (1977)(codified at 16 CFR 1303).
15. American Public Health Association. APHA Policy Statement 69-02. Childhood lead poisoning. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association; 1969. Available at: www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/default.htm?id=615. Accessed December 8, 2007. Amendment: APHA Policy Statement 70-01. Amendment of 1969 approved resolution on childhood lead poisoning (action section only). Washington, DC: American Public Health Association; 1970. Available at: www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/default.htm?id=637. Accessed December 8, 2007.
16. American Public Health Association. APHA Policy Statement 72-11. Lead in the environment. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association; 1972. Available at: www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/default.htm?id=700. Accessed December 8, 2007.
17. American Public Health Association. APHA Policy Statement 85-08. Health risks related to lead exposure. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association; 1985. Available at: www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/default.htm?id=1090. Accessed December 8, 2007.
18. American Public Health Association. APHA Policy Statement 89-09: Environmental lead exposure. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association; 1989. Available at: www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/default.htm?id=1188. Accessed December 8, 2007.
19. American Public Health Association. APHA Policy Statement 97-04: Lead poisoning in paint. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association; 1997. Available at: www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/default.htm?id=138. Accessed December 8, 2007.
20. American Public Health Association. APHA Policy Statement 99-07: Ensuring the safety of the food supply in the United States. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association; 1999. Available at: www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/default.htm?id=178. Accessed December 8, 2007.
21. American Public Health Association. APHA Policy Statement 72-27(PP): Child health and public policy background. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association; 1972. Available at: www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/default.htm?id=716. Accessed December 8, 2007.