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High Levels of Lead Found in Playground Paint

January 25, 2016
Public Health

A study by scientists from Plymouth University has found lead levels up to forty times the recommended limit in a survey of children’s playground equipment. The study, which has been published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, concluded that levels could pose a significant risk to young children.

Researchers tested the levels of lead in paint on playground equipment at 50 sites across Cornwall, Devon, Hampshire and Somerset, taking 242 samples. Guidelines drawn up by the World Health Organisation in 1977 recommend that playground equipment paint should contain no more than 0.25% lead, the study however found levels of 10% at one site in Plymouth which was constructed in 2009.

The highest concentrations of lead were generally found in yellow and red paints. As main author Dr Andrew Turner, Reader in Environmental Science Plymouth University pointed out, problems begin to occur as painted surfaces age. “Once the film begins to deteriorate through abrasion or via exposure to UV light and moisture, the paint begins to crack, flake and chalk and metal-bearing particulates are mobilised into the environment,” he said. “Given that the total tolerable daily intake of lead for a child under six years of age is 6 microgrammes, the results of this study suggest that very little ingestion is required to present a potential health hazard.”

The study calls on local authorities to carry out regular monitoring of playgrounds to ensure flaking paint is replaced.

You can download a copy of the full report HERE.