The substitution of lead in industrial anticorrosive paints in Tunisia: lessons learned and recommendations for the future
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Together with SCP/RAC, a small scale trade fair event for the substitution of lead in paint was carried out on the 19th and 20th of June in ARENA – Les Berges du Lac in Tunis, coupled with a conference and Q&A sessions between experts in the field. The event gathered economic operators in the industrial paint sector, decision-makers from the relevant Ministries including the attendance of the Minister of Industry, Mr Slim Feriani, as well as research centres and universities representatives.
The event started by a project introduction carried out by Kimberley De Miguel Wardle, project manager in SCP/RAC presented the project who gave, later, the floor to other participants. In turn, attendants in the conferences presented practices in SCP and discussed alternatives to lead in industrial paint, as well as strategies to introduce alternatives safely and efficiently. IPEN’s scientific consultant Sara Brosché presented IPEN’s technical guidelines for replacing lead-containing anti-corrosives in paint. The report provides:
- General information on paint manufacture such as paint ingredients and their properties, and the manufacturing process
- The use and properties of lead in anti-corrosive paint
- Alternatives to lead in anti-corrosive paint and any implications for the paint production process
- Specific information relevant to the Tunisian situation
“Lead in Paint constitutes the biggest source of lead toxicity, for which there is no acceptable threshold. The government is acting on three fronts: raising public awareness, putting in place a legal framework limiting the commercialization of lead-based paint, and boosting scientific research to find sustainable alternatives.”
HE Slim Feriani, Minister of Industry and SMEs
In-between the Q&A sessions, attendants were able to tour the trade fair for alternative suppliers in Tunisia, providing local and international experts with a concrete view of the Tunisian lead-free paint landscape. After a fruitful debate and in-depth exchange of experiences, it was concluded that even though efforts have been put towards mapping the current situation of lead, further work needs to be developed on the national survey on the use of lead, to achieve a thorough baseline. Also, greater efforts must be focused on increasing consumer awareness, via product campaigns, eco-labelling and especially in education from an early stage. Investment in research and development is another key to this issue, especially in SMEs, with benefits such as the boost of employment and economic growth and the reduction in costs on health impact and remediation. Dissemination of good practices would contribute to all the above, by aiding the private sector and promote research and development and raising awareness.
Finally, the audience pointed the need to move towards stricter controls and legislation, particularly those enforced by the government and imposed by the industry association. The exchanges brought to light also the need for further cooperation between different government branches, industry leaders, and research centers.