New study and industry workshop in Senegal
Published on: December 18, 2023

The Senegalese Ministry of Health, through the Poison Control Centre (PCC), and LEEP recently conducted a study to determine the lead content of paints on the market in Senegal. Results showed that 10 out of 35 (29%) samples of paint for home use, obtained in Dakar, contained dangerously high levels of lead (greater than 90 ppm lead). The highest lead content detected was 230,000 ppm. Senegal has made excellent progress on this issue by drafting regulations; this study shows the promulgation of those regulations is necessary.

The PCC and LEEP also organized an industry workshop on July 6, 2023, attended by paint manufacturers, key ministries, and representatives from customs and laboratories. The event featured presentations addressing lead paint health impacts, the Senegalese standard, and the ECOWAS standard on lead paint as well as reformulation advice.

Paint study

In June 2023, the PCC, working in tandem with LEEP, conducted a study to assess the lead content present in paints available for purchase across Senegal. The data suggests noteworthy strides in reducing lead-based paints since a 2009 IPEN study, but shows that such paints for home use are still readily available in Senegal.

38 samples of solvent-based paints intended for household use were purchased in June 2023 from stores in Dakar. 28 (74%) were oil-based paints, four (11%) were spray paints and six (16%) were tints. Three samples could not be successfully  analysed (these were all tints). The paints represented 17 different brands. Where available, white, yellow and red paints were purchased.  

All paints were analysed by a laboratory at the University of Wisconsin, USA for lead content based on dry weight using inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry. The laboratory is accredited by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) and it participates in the Environmental Lead Proficiency Analytical Testing program (ELPAT).

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Paint samples drying in preparation for laboratory analysis

This study found that 10 out of 35 paints sampled (29%) contained dangerous levels of lead (with a total lead concentration above 90 ppm by dry weight). Nine samples (26%) contained total lead concentrations above 1000 ppm. One oil-based paint had a lead content of 150,000 ppm, which is over 1600 times the recommended limit.

Lead status and estimated market share

Lead content of 35 samples of solvent-based paints. 29% of paints tested were higher than the WHO’s recommended limit of 90 ppm.

The data shows white paints are much less likely to contain lead than yellow and red paints, indicating lead pigments are the source of lead. Of the samples containing lead, 70% were yellow in colour, the remaining 30% red. 

Seven out of 17 brands (41%) were found to have at least one paint at greater than 90 ppm. Three of these brands were locally produced in Senegal; the remaining brands were reportedly imported from Morocco, China and the USA.

Industry workshop

On July 6, 2023, the PCC organized an Industry Workshop funded by LEEP. The event drew participation from an array of paint manufacturers, alongside key ministries—health, environment, commerce, and industry. Attendees also included representatives from the Directorate of Customs and two national laboratories.

Dr. Barnabé Gning, Director General of Public Health at the Ministry of Health, began the workshop, taking the floor on behalf of the Minister and inaugurating the proceedings. The lineup of speakers featured Prof. Mamadou Fall, Director of the PCC; Nafisatou Cissé, Program Manager and Team Leader at LEEP; and a representative from the Senegal Standards Association.

The presentations addressed the health ramifications of lead paint, the intricacies of the Senegalese standard, the relevance of the regional ECOWAS standard on lead paint, and methodologies by which manufacturers could remove lead from their paint formulations.

The workshop gained coverage from various news outlets and the Ministry of Health’s official social media platforms

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Group photo at the industry workshop on July 6, 2023 in Dakar, Senegal

Next steps

LEEP plans to:

  • Continue offering technical support to manufacturers seeking to reformulate. 
  • Continue collaborating with PCC and the Ministry of Health to introduce and enforce mandatory regulation to ban the current manufacture, import, and sale of paints with lead concentrations greater than 90 ppm.
  • Undertake further lead paint testing in order to assess which manufacturers have successfully reformulated and support regulatory enforcement activity.

Acknowledgements and thanks

LEEP would like to thank Prof. Mamadou Fall, Director of the PCC; Ms. Arame Cissé, laboratory technician at the PCC; Mr. Robert Foko, PhD student in toxicology at Université Cheikh Anta Diop; Cheikh Kane, Driver at the PCC; and the rest of the PCC team; and Mr. Hassane Diop, Head of the Pollution and Nuisance Prevention and Control Division at the Ministry of Environment, for their collaboration on this project.