Skip to main content

Lead content in new decorative paints in India


The paint industry in India is broadly classified into two categories: organized sector and unorganized sector. Multinational and big Indian companies form the organized sector, whereas the small- and medium-scale industries which produce paints for the local market form the unorganized sector. The present study was undertaken to determine the level of lead in decorative paints in India. A total of 148 paint samples sourced from four organized sector companies and six unorganized sector companies were analyzed for the total lead content. Results of this study reveal that 39 % of the total paints tested (n = 148) contain lead more than 300 ppm, the voluntary limit prescribed by Bureau of Indian Standards, BIS (IS 15489:2011), and 45 % of the tested paints contain lead more than 90 ppm, the US limit. Further analysis of the data indicates that only 5 % of the tested paints manufactured by organized sector companies contain lead more than 300 ppm (n = 91), whereas 93 % of the tested paints manufactured by unorganized sector companies contain lead more than 300 ppm (n = 57). Comparison with earlier reported data suggests that while organized sector companies are gradually abandoning the use of lead-based compounds in their paints, the unorganized sector companies are still adding lead-based compounds intentionally in their paints despite the potential health hazards associated with it. The maximum concentration of lead obtained was 80,350 ppm in one of the paints manufactured by an unorganized sector company. The presence of high concentration of lead in yellow and green color paints indicates that color can be a predictor of lead content in decorative paints.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1


  • Adebamowo, E. O., Clark, C. S., Roda, S., Agbede, O. A., Sridhar, M. K. C., & Adebamowo, C. A. (2007). Lead content of dried films of domestic paint currently sold in Nigeria. Science of the Total Environment, 388, 116–120.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Bureau of Indian Standards. (2004). Indian Standard IS 15489:2004. Paint, Plastic Emulsion-Specification.

  • Bureau of Indian Standards. (2011). Indian Standard IS 15489:2004 first revision. Paint, Plastic Emulsion-Specification.

  • CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention). (1991). Preventing lead poisoning in young children: A statement by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

  • CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention). (2012). Update on Blood Lead Levels in Children, a statement by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Accessed 10 Apr 2013.

  • Clark, C. S., Rampal, K., Thuppil, V., Chen, C., Clark, R., & Roda, S. (2006). The lead content of currently available new residential paint in several Asian countries. Environmental Research, 102, 9–12.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Clark, C. S., Rampal, K. G., Thuppil, V., Roda, S. M., Succop, P., Menrath, W., et al. (2009). Lead levels in new enamel household paints from Asia, Africa and South America. Environmental Research, 109, 930–936.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Clark, C. S., Thuppil, V., Clark, R., Sinha, S., Menezes, G., D’Souza, H., et al. (2005). Lead in paint and soil in Karnataka and Gujarat, India. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 2, 38–44.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • DIPP (2009-10). Annual Report 2009-10, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, p. 61. Accessed 9 Apr 2013.

  • Ewers, L., Clark, C. S., Peng, H., Roda, S. M., Menrath, B., Lind, C., et al. (2011). Lead levels in new residential enamel paints in Taipei, Taiwan and comparison with those in mainland China. Environmental Research, 111, 757–760.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Fewtrell, L., Pruss-Ustun, A., Landrigan, P., & Ayuso-Mateos, J. (2004). Estimating the global burden of disease of mild mental retardation and cardiovascular disease from environmental lead exposure. Environmental Research, 94, 120–133.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Focus on Powder Coatings. (2011). Country focus: India: Paint and coatings industry moving beyond the mandate. Focus on Powder Coatings, 11, 6. doi:10.1016/S1364-5439(11)70284-2.

  • Jacobs, D. E., Clickner, R. P., Zhou, J. Y., Viet, S. M., Marker, D. A., Rogers, J. W., et al. (2002). The prevalence of lead-based paint hazards in US housing. Environmental Health Perspectives, 110, A559–A606.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Koller, K., Brown, T., Spurgeon, A., & Levy, L. (2004). Recent developments in low-level lead exposure and intellectual impairment in children. Environmental Health Perspectives, 112, 987–994.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Kumar, A. (2009). Lead in new decorative paints. Report: Eliminating lead in paint—global study to determine lead in new decorative paints in 10 countries. Accessed 20 Mar 2013.

  • Kumar, A., & Gottesfeld, P. (2008). Lead content in household paints in India. Science of the Total Environment, 407, 333–337.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Kuruvilla, A., Pillay, V. V., Venkatesh, T., Adhikari, P., Chakrapani, M., Clark, C. S., et al. (2004). Portable lead analyzer to locate source of lead. Indian Journal of Paediatrics, 71, 495–499.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Lanphear, B. P., Matte, T., Rogers, J., Clickner, R. L., Dietz, B., Bornschein, R., et al. (1998). The contribution of lead-contaminated house dust and residential soil to children’s blood lead levels: A pooled analysis of 12 epidemiological studies. Environmental Research, 79, 51–68.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Lin, G. Z., Peng, R. F., Chen, Q., Wu, Z. G., & Du, L. (2008). Lead in housing paints: An existing source still not taken seriously for children lead poisoning in China. Environmental Research, 109, 1–5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Meyer, P. A., McGeehin, M. A., & Falk, H. (2003). A global approach to childhood lead poisoning prevention. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, 206, 363–369.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Montgomery, M., & Mathee, A. (2005). A preliminary study of residential paint lead concentrations in Johannesburg. Environmental Research, 98, 279–283.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • NAS (National Accounts Statistics). (1980). Government of India, p. 69.

  • Nichani, V., Li, W. I., Smith, M. A., Noonan, G., Kulkarni, M., Kodavor, M., et al. (2006). Blood lead levels in children after phase-out of leaded gasoline in Bombay, India. Science of the Total Environment, 363, 95–106.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Patel, A. B., Williams, S. V., Frumkin, H., Kondawar, V. K., Glick, H., & Ganju, A. K. (2001). Blood Lead in Children and Its Determinants in Nagpur, India. International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, 7, 119–126.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Singh, A. K., & Singh, M. (2006). Lead decline in the Indian environment resulting from the petrol-lead phase-out programme. Science of the Total Environment, 368, 686–694.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • The George Foundation. (1999). Project lead-free: A study of lead poisoning in major Indian cities. In A. George (Ed.), Lead poisoning prevention and treatment: Implementing a national program in developing countries. Bangalore: The George Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

  • Toxic Link. (2011). Double standard: Investigating lead content in leading enamel paint brands in South Asia. Accessed 28 Sep 2012.

  • US CPSC (US Consumer Protection Safety Commission). (2011). Ban of lead-containing paint and certain consumer products bearing lead-containing paint, 16 C.F.R. 1303. Accessed 10 Apr 2013.

  • US EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency). (2001). Standard operating procedures for lead in paints by hot plate or microwave based acid digestion and atomic absorption or inductively coupled plasma emission spectroscopy. EPA PB 92-114172.

  • Van Alphen, M. (1999). Lead in paints and in water in India. In A. M. George (Ed.), Proceedings of the international conference on lead poisoning prevention and treatment: Implementing a national program in developing countries, February 8–10 (pp. 265–272). Bangalore: The George Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

Download references


Authors thank Director, CSIR-National Metallurgical Laboratory for his support to publish this work. Authors also thank Ministry of Environment, Government of India for funding.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sanchita Chakravarty.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Mohanty, A., Budhwani, N., Ghosh, B. et al. Lead content in new decorative paints in India. Environ Dev Sustain 15, 1653–1661 (2013).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Lead in paints
  • Indian paint
  • Organized sector
  • Unorganized sector