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Source: Environmental Protection Authority

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is calling for submissions on changes to rules for lead levels in paints and art materials, such as chalk, crayons, and felt-tip pens.
The main aim of the proposed updates to group standards that cover these products is to further protect people’s health by reducing the levels of lead allowed in paint.
Group standards are approvals and rules for using a group of hazardous substances of a similar nature, type or use.
The EPA is also looking to adjust the rules for lead levels in art materials that children use, including chalk and watercolour paints, to further protect them from exposure to this substance.
At high levels, lead can cause serious health effects, such as permanent damage to the brain and nervous system, anaemia and kidney damage. It is also toxic to plants, animals, and microorganisms.
“Fortunately, the risk of lead poisoning from paints or graphic materials currently on the market is very low. We’re proposing to update the group standards as a precaution – to ensure our rules are as robust as possible, and to align with similar international regulators,” says Dr Chris Hill, General Manager of Hazardous Substances and New Organisms.
“We are continually working to ensure people and the environment are protected, by assessing the rules for hazardous substances and adjusting them when needed.”
The current lead level limit for paint is 0.1% (1000 parts per million/ppm).
The proposed changes would reduce this to 0.009% (90ppm), in line with countries including Australia, Canada and the United States.
This consultation enables the wider public and people in relevant industries to provide additional information and feedback on the proposed changes.
Submitters can provide information, make comments, and raise issues to contribute to the EPA decision-making process.
Submissions close at 11:59pm on 26 January 2024.
Editor’s notes:
The EPA’s proposed changes include:  
  • Reducing the lead level limit in paints covered by the Surface Coatings and Colourants Group Standards and Aerosols Group Standards to 90 ppm.
  • Adding lead limits to the Corrosion Inhibitors Group Standards.
  • Requiring evidence of compliance with lead levels, where relevant.
  • Updating leaching limits in graphic materials.
  • Updating the standard that covers lead leaching from toys.
  • Amending group standards so all graphic materials marketed to children are covered solely by the Graphic Materials Group Standard, which doesn’t allow any level of lead or other hazardous substance.
– Research shows there is very little risk to children from lead in art and writing materials, but the EPA advises people to always buy them from reputable suppliers.
– Lead exposure can cause chronic and debilitating health impacts in all age groups, but it is particularly harmful to young children; exposure to high levels (greater than 100 micrograms per deciLitre of blood) can be fatal.