In a bid to ensure that children are not exposed to lead in the environment, Mysore Paints and Varnish Ltd., has proposed to supply paint and varnish containing less than 600 parts per million (ppm) of lead to schools and other child-centric institutions in the State. The company has already supplied this “child-friendly” paint to Jawahar Bal Bhavan in Bangalore for use on toys and play equipment.

Already well known as the sole supplier of indelible ink used during elections, the public sector undertaking has taken several measures to minimise lead content in products.

Company managing director K.J. Suresh told The Hindu: “We are preparing the ground to launch full-scale commercial production of paint and varnish containing less than 600 ppm of lead.” Following directions issued by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, the company had begun manufacturing products with minimal lead content to check lead poisoning, he said. At present, the company manufactures such paints against orders.

“As the production of industrial coatings is our mainstay, we are currently looking at bringing down the lead content in these products; later, we will focus on decorative coatings. We shall fully comply with the order on limiting lead use by 2012,” Mr. Suresh said.

He also expressed the company's willingness to tie up with other organisations looking to provide minimal lead environments. The company would approach schools, seeking to supply them with paint for buildings and vans, he said.

“Lead enters the biological system of children in the form of minute dust particles (paint flakes) from lead-based paints. Even school vans painted with enamel containing high amounts of lead can expose the children to lead poisoning,” he said.

Experts from the National Referral Centre for Lead Poisoning in India, a non-profit joint undertaking of the St. John's National Academy of Health Sciences and The George Foundation, visited the company here and interacted with company officials.“The company sought the guidance of Thuppil Venkatesh and Shashidhara N., who are actively involved in spreading awareness on lead poisoning, when they visited our company,” Mr Suresh said.

Compared to several other countries, awareness on lead poisoning is lacking in the country and efforts are being made to educate the people on the issue, he said.

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