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21 March 2022, Jakarta – Bright colour paints with high lead content are found in public children’s facilities and open spaces across Indonesia. A recent study from Nexus3 Foundation found over 70% of paint samples had lead concentrations above 90 parts per million (ppm), a globally agreed threshold. The highest lead concentration is 150,000 ppm. The US National Institute of Health estimated the economic cost of childhood lead exposure at approximately USD 37.9 billion annually.

Countries participating in the SAICM forum agreed to phase out lead paint by 2020. Experiences in developed nations show the enormous cost of removing applied lead paint. In contrast, removing lead compounds in the production process is much cheaper. Alternatives to lead additives are available.

“It is very disappointing that multinational companies in Indonesia, produce leaded paint for the Indonesian market, while in their home country they don’t,” said Yuyun Ismawati, Nexus3 Foundation. She added, “Even the market leader in Indonesia, which recently sold its shares to the public, still relies on lead paint. This should not happen.”

Indonesia has a voluntary standard (2014) setting lead content at 600 ppm maximum in decorative paints. More than 13,000 people signed a petition in 2020 demanding President Joko Widodo to issue stricter lead paint regulations, indicating a sizable market demand.

Currently, several Indonesian-based paint companies have produced lead-free decorative paints. The majority of the rest did not even respond to attend the “Market Leaders Commitments to Produce Lead-Free Paint by 2023” event on 17 March 2022 in Jakarta. Only three companies signed the commitments to produce lead-free paint by 2023: Rajawali Hiyoto, Sigma Utama, and Mowilex Indonesia.

“Mowilex Indonesia took drastic action by halting lead-based paint production in May 2019. We are aware of the lost revenue for reformulation, but acting responsibly was more important, bearing no cost to our customers” explained Niko Safavi, CEO of Mowilex Indonesia.

Aries Sumiadi, Sigma Utama stated, “Paint and coatings intended to protect surface and materials. It is time to protect its users, especially children”

Abdus Syukur, Rajawali Hiyoto, emphasized, “We are only a small company. In the last three years we have tried to reformulate our products. Now we are confident and ready to produce lead-safe decorative paint by 2023”.