The new JS 358: 2022 Standard, which stipulates the limit for lead content in paints and other surface coating material distributed and retailed locally, is to be promulgated by month-end and will take effect in January 2023.
Its development was spearheaded by the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) Paints and Surface Coatings Technical Committee and comes against the background of research indicating the presence of significant concentrations of lead locally, to which persons are being exposed.
This has resulted from, among other things, the use of paints containing high levels of this element.
Lead is deemed toxic and harmful to public health and the environment, and exposure to this element can negatively impact the human body’s functions.
Against this background, the Standard stipulates that it should not exceed a maximum of 90 migrogrammes per gramme or 0.009 per cent of content.
The document also addresses other matters such as storage, product sampling and treatment, and enforcement, the latter of which will be led by the National Compliance and Regulatory Authority (NCRA).
Sanctions for non-compliance by stakeholders include a fine of $3 million and or 12 months’ imprisonment.
Details of the Standard and other related matters were discussed during a Lead in Paint Virtual Conference, hosted on Wednesday (June 22) by the BSJ, in partnership with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), under the theme ‘A Safer Jamaica in Every Stroke’.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Dr. the Hon. Norman Dunn, who addressed the conference, welcomed the Standard’s development, noting that the adverse effects of excessive exposure to lead are “well documented”.
“As an agent of the Government, mandated to ensure consumer protection, we are proud of the advocacy and effort of our portfolio agency, the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, which has culminated in the JS 358: 2022 Jamaica Standard. As a country with strong linkages in and aspirations of global commerce, Jamaica is careful to honour our international applications and obligations,” he said.
Dr. Dunn noted that the Standard’s application also “opens new opportunities” for compliant local businesses to compete in the global markets, such as the United States, “where there are stringent enforcement regulations regarding the percentage of lead in paints”.
“With this in mind, I encourage all stakeholders to fully comply with the requirements regarding lead content in paints and surface coatings, in accordance with the National Standard when it becomes mandatory on January 1, 2023,” he added.
Dr. Dunn pointed out that the Standard has been informed by scientific research to ascertain acceptable levels of lead, “thus ensuring that we safeguard the health and safety of the people of Jamaica, and those with whom we trade internationally”.
He assured that the Ministry, through the BSJ, will make every effort to engage its stakeholders to ensure they are fully cognisant of and understand the requirements in advance of the January 2023 deadline for compliance.
“In line with our duty of care to the public, the Ministry will also activate its testing programme [at] the appropriate time, to ensure that the standards are, in fact, met and maintained,” Dr. Dunn added.
Executive Director of the BSJ, Dr. Velton Gooden, in his remarks, noted that consequent on the negative health effects of lead, “the time has come for us to reduce and ultimately, to eliminate lead in products, such as paints and also other surface coatings”.