MUTTENZ, Switzerland – Clariant is playing a leading role in supporting the coatings industry to phase out lead in paints.

During the last week of October, the eighth International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, an initiative of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, jointly led by the UN Environment Programme and the World Health Organization, highlighted the need for action on lead paints and other sources of lead exposure.

As one of the first companies to completely end the production and supply of lead-based pigments in the mid-1980s, Clariant — then Hoechst AG — supported the United Nations’ campaign to eliminate lead paint and, through regulatory and legal measures, accelerate progress towards its global phase out. To work towards this goal, Clariant is a supporter of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), hosted by the UN Environment Programme, a global policy framework that aims to protect human health and the environment from the unsound management of chemicals and waste, including through early planning support for chemicals management in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“Only 77 countries currently have legally binding controls on the manufacture, import and sale of lead paint, meaning that it is still permitted in a substantial number of countries, presenting a continuing and future source of lead exposure for children and workers. That’s why we believe the SAICM/Global Environment Facility project, ‘Global best practices on emerging chemical policy issues of concern under the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management,’ is an important initiative that sustainable and forward-looking companies should support,” said John Dunne, Clariant’s Head of Business Unit Pigments.

Supporting small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to transition to a lead-free paint market is one focus for Clariant, along with an emphasis on providing safer solutions in developing countries where paint manufacturing with lead-based materials is still considered a cost advantage.

In such markets, legislation without providing alternatives can inhibit public and industry acceptance of safer solutions and could prevent eliminating lead paints altogether; the fear of manufacturers is they will not be able to effectively compete without lower cost alternatives.

Clariant’s Hostaperm®, Novoperm®, Permanent and Hansa™ pigment ranges are entirely free of lead-based pigments. Many of the products were developed in the 1970s and 1980s to allow for efficient formulation of shades previously made with lead chrome pigments. Recommendations can be found in the company’s brochures.

“Clariant’s alternatives are both easy-to-disperse powder pigments and pre-dispersed, liquid color concentrates, which can be simply stirred into a clear varnish. The existing equipment in local paint companies is therefore enough to allow lead replacement, meaning that clever reformulation efforts can save on having to invest in any new production hardware. This enables local paint companies to expand the color gamut of their paint significantly without increasing costs. Enhanced sustainability can also lead to cost savings and performance improvements,” continued Dunne.

Clariant will continue its active engagement in public policy dialogue on the issue as well as supporting SAICM in its push for globally harmonized legislation to set the course of the market and support SMEs in the transition ahead.

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