Follow-up on High Lead Concentrations in New Decorative Enamel Paints Available in Egypt

  •  Scott Clark    
  •  William Menrath    
  •  Yehia Zakaria    
  •  Amal El-Safty    
  •  Sandy Roda    
  •  Caroline Lind    
  •  Essam Elsayed    
  •  Hongying Peng    


The average total lead concentration of new enamel household paints in Egypt was previously reported to be the second highest among the seven countries from Africa, Asia and South America that were included in a 2009 publication. The follow up study reported in this paper includes more than twice as many brands (11 versus 4) and samples (45 versus 20) as the initial study. Paints from three of the four brands included in the initial study were sampled again to examine possible changes. Paint from the eight brands not examined in the initial study had lower lead concentrations (4,150 ppm average) compared to brands in the initial study, 26,200 ppm resulting in an average concentration of 11,900 ppm in the follow up study. These two averages are 291- and 132-times higher, respectively, than the current U.S. limit of 90 ppm in new paints for consumer use.

Paint lead concentrations in brands/colors manufactured at different times did not exhibit any overall pattern of increase or decrease. The data from the follow up and initial studies were combined using the sample collected more recently for those brand/colors collected twice, resulting in a total of fifty-two (52) samples with an average lead concentration of 14,300 ppm. The presence of lead in new paints continues to represent a threat to children and efforts are needed to cease the use of lead compounds in making paints by using readily available substitutes.

In a 1997 report of the analyses of fifteen (15) new paints intended for use on the interior of houses, the median concentration, 370 ppm, and the maximum, 19,200 ppm, were much lower than those presented in this report. This is consistent with a statement in the 1997 report that anecdotal evidence that some paint companies may be starting or increasing the production of lead-based paint.

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