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Lead in Paint in Thailand

Lead is a toxic metal, which in Thailand is still being added to wall paint. Unborn babies and young children are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning. Even low levels of lead exposure, have been shown to affect IQ, attention span, and academic achievement later in life. 


What is lead poisoning?

Lead poisoning occurs when you absorb too much lead by breathing or swallowing a substance with lead in it, such as paint, dust, water, or food. As the effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected, its very important to ensure a child is not exposed to lead in the first place.


Why is lead harmful?

Lead can damage almost every organ system. In children, too much lead in the body can cause lasting problems with growth and development. These can affect behavior, hearing, learning and can slow the child’s growth.


What causes lead poisoning?

Thailand is one of the few countries in the world that still allows lead in wall paint. The most common source of lead exposure for children is, therefore, lead-based paint and the dust and soil that are contaminated by it. Other sources include contaminated air, water, and soil. There is research that suggests that low IQ levels of children in certain Thai provinces might be contributed to the lead-based wall paint used in many homes and schools.


Who is at highest risk of lead poisoning?

Children under the age of 6 years old are at high risk. Their bodies absorb lead at a higher rate and their brains are still developing quickly. They also might chew paint that flakes off walls and woodwork and they tend to put their hands or other objects, which may be contaminated with lead dust, into their mouths


What are the symptoms?

Lead poisoning can be hard to detect and symptoms are easy to miss because other diseases can cause the similar reactions. In children symptoms can include:

− Slightly lower intelligence

− Smaller size compared to children of the same age.

− Behavior problems, such as acting angry, moody, or hyperactive.

− Lack of energy and low appetite.


How is lead poisoning diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects lead poisoning he will first do a blood test to find the amount of lead in the blood. However, most children with lead poisoning don’t show symptoms until their blood lead levels are very high.


Is all lead-free paint safe?

Unfortunately, many Thai paint brands that are marketed as “mercury and lead-free” actually contain lead, according to research done by Dr. Hammond, a professor at the University of Waterloo.


Tips to limit the exposure to lead

  • Repaint that kids play and bedroom with a natural wall paint, whose manufacturer can confirm that it is 100% . Note that pregnant women should avoid removing old paint because of the risk of lead exposure.
  • If you suspect that you might have lead-based paint on your walls, but if repainting is no option, use a wet cloth to wipe the walls (any recommendations for how often?)
  • Make sure your child does not have access to peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.
  • Keep your home clean and wash your kids’ hands and toys often. Clean dusty surfaces with a wet cloth.
  • Ensure that iron and calcium are in your diets. Good nutrition can help reduce the amount of lead that’s absorbed by the bodies.


Internal Note

At Sprouts, we use only DULEX Wall paint from Germany, which is guaranteed 100% lead-free.