23 to 29 October 2016: International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

October 23 to 29 is celebrated as the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (ILPPW).

Now in its fourth year, the theme of this year’s ILPPW is Lead Free Kids for a Healthy Future, with a special focus to ban lead from paint.

Background Information:

The International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (ILPPW) is an initiative of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint (Lead Paint Alliance).

ILPPW raises awareness and promotes actions to address the human health effects of lead exposure, especially for children.

During the week, governments, academia, industry and civil society organize activities worldwide.

The campaign promotes efforts to prevent childhood lead poisoning, and specifically actions to eliminate lead in paint.

Key Messages:

The International Lead Poisoning Prevention Campaign aims to:

  1. Raise awareness about the hazards of lead and, in particular, of lead paint.
  2. Draw attention to the importance of preventing lead poisoning, particularly in children.
  3. Urge further action by governments to ban lead paint by 2020.

Lead is toxic to multiple body systems, including the central nervous system and brain, the reproductive system, the kidneys, the cardiovascular system, and the blood and the immune system.


It is more cost‐effective to ban new lead paint and promote lead‐ safe alternatives, than to remediate contaminated homes, schools and playgrounds.

Paint that contains lead additives poses a risk of lead poisoning, especially for young children. As lead paint deteriorates over time, children may inhale or ingest lead through household dust, paint chips or contaminated soil.


Lead poisoning is entirely preventable, yet the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has estimated that in 2013 lead exposure accounted for 853 000 deaths and 16.8 million disability adjusted life years (DALYs) due to long-term effects on health, with the highest burden in developing regions.

There is no known level of lead exposure that is considered to be safe.

Childhood lead poisoning can have lifelong health impacts, including: learning disabilities, anemia, and disorders in coordination, visual, spatial and language skills.

Of particular concern is the role of lead exposure in the development of intellectual disability in children.

Lead exposure accounts for approximately 9% of the global burden of intellectual disability without known cause. 

Based on a recent study, estimated reduced cognitive potentials (loss of IQ points) due to preventable childhood lead exposure equal to 98.2 million points in Africa, 283.6 million in Asia, and 24.4 million in Latin America and the Caribbean, which translate into economic losses equal to $134.7, $699.9, and $142.3 billions of international dollars, respectively Unfortunately it is still legal to sell lead paint in many countries around the world for decorating homes, schools and children’s toys.

High exposure to lead can result in behavioral and mental disorders. For pregnant women, harmful effects include premature births, smaller babies, and miscarriage.

Substitutes for lead paint are cost effective and relatively easy to obtain. Paints without lead additives have been used in many countries for decades and have proven to be viable, cost-effective alternatives to lead paint.

Establishing legal limits on lead in new paint has been shown to be an effective tool to decrease the sale and use of lead paint. Yet there are still many areas of the world where it is legal to sell paint containing lead additives.


Children living in developing regions, where there are few governmental controls on lead, are disproportionately affected. In fact, 98% of children affected by lead exposure live in low‐ and middle‐income countries.

Useful Links:

Link to the WHO Campaign page:


Link to the IPCS ILPPW objectives page:


Link to the UNEP Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint page:


Link to WHO infographic on lead (English) [PDF]:


Link to ILPPW 2016 flyer (English) [PDF]:


Link to ILPPW campaign materials (several languages) [PDF, JPG]:


Link to ILPPW 2016 campaign resource package (English) [PDF]:


Link to Questions and Answers on lead (English) [PDF]:


Link to WHO fact sheet on lead poisoning and health (updated September 2016):


Link to WHO document ‘Childhood Lead Poisoning’ (2010) (English) [PDF]:


Link to WHO document ‘Exposure to Lead: A Major Public Health Concern’ (English) [PDF]:


Link to WHO slide set on Lead and children (English) [PDF]:


Link to WHO’s video message on ILPPW 2016 (English):






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