While the United States effectively banned lead-based paint in 1978, in many developing countries—even after decades of research showing how lead is linked to learning disabilities, lower IQ, and other health effects in children—the element is still abundantly applied in paint products, with lead concentrations sometimes up to 100 times higher than what’s permitted in the US.
The Philippines had long been a prime example of this. Just ten years ago, local activist Manny Calonzo decided to test the paint in his home country—the first person to publicly do so. Calonzo had long been involved in consumer safety, working for Consumers International in Penang, Malaysia, in the late 90s. After he returned to his home country, in 2008, he became president of pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition, a network of more than 150 environmental groups based in Quezon City.
Today in Nairobi, during the 3rd United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA3), IPEN and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) held a press conference to announce a new partnership to contribute to the work on Gender and Chemicals, through a focus on women. IPEN Co-Chair Dr. Olga Speranskaya opened the press conference with a statement on the partnership, reminding attendees: "There are nearly 4 billion women and girls on the planet. Despite the fact that women make up roughly half of the population and chemical exposure is widespread, knowledge of exposure routes and the true impacts of chemical exposures on women are difficult to determine because there is a lack of gender-disaggregated data."
For years, IPEN has worked on several issues of pollution that will be relevant to the Assembly. For informational materials to supplement issues covered at the meeting, visit IPEN's UNEA3 Information Materials page.