Playgrounds pose health risk

  • Indonesia
  • Tuesday, 29 Oct 2019

Serious hazard: The Nexus3 study showed that at least 69% of playground equipment in Jakarta had a lead concentration of over 90 ppm, the national standard deemed safe for children. — The Jakarta Post/ANN

Jakarta: The bright and colourful playground equipment and toys in Jakarta’s parks and green spaces may pose a danger in the long term, as a study has revealed that most of the paint used on the equipment contains a high level of lead that can be dangerous if it accumulates in the human body.

A study conducted by Bali Fokus/Nexus3 Foundation, an environmental health NGO, found that at least 69% of playground equipment had a lead concentration of over 90 parts per million (ppm), which is the national standard deemed safe for children.

The 90 ppm lead limit is based on the Indonesian National Standard (SNI) ISO 8124-1 enforced since 2014, which stipulates that the concentration of lead in paint must be less than 90 ppm.

The study surveyed 32 parks in Jakarta with playground equipment such as swings, seesaws and jungle gyms using an X-ray fluorescence portable analyser in September and October.

The study found that out of 119 pieces of playground equipment surveyed in those parks, 82 had a lead concentration of over 90 ppm.

Of those, 81 or 79% were brightly coloured. Yellow ones were found to have the highest concentration of lead at 4,170 ppm.

“This means there are toxic substances everywhere (in the playground). If (the paint) peels off and is inhaled, it could be dangerous for children,” a researcher at Nexus 3, Sonia Buftheim, said on Friday.

She added that Nexus3 had met with the Jakarta Administration on Friday, represented by the Jakarta Child Protection and Empowerment and Population Control Agency, the Jakarta Forestry Agency and members of the Jakarta Governor’s Team for Accelerated Development.

Sonia said the administration welcomed the findings and would check the lead content in Jakarta’s 308 integrated child-friendly spaces.She also said mitigation steps could still be taken such as repainting the equipment with safe paints that were free of lead and if that was not feasible yet, the equipment should be regularly cleaned with a wet cloth to prevent small residual particles of lead.

Sonia said although the findings were focused on Jakarta, it should also be an alarm for the central government, namely the Industry Ministry and Environment Ministry, that commercially available paints still have a high level of lead, which is dangerous for children.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said he would order an investigation into the findings.

“I will check that because we should use materials that are safe for children and people as a whole,” Anies was quoted as saying recently by the Warta Kota daily.

“I will also ask to use safe materials (for future paints) because if it happens again, we need recovery steps and have to decide what kind of recovery we need.”

A Nexus3 study in 2015 of 63 brands of commercial paint found that 57 had a lead concentration of over 90 ppm and 53 had a concentration of over 600 ppm.

The SNI 8011 in 2014 stipulated that solvent-borne paints for architectural purposes must not have a lead concentration of over 600 ppm.

The World Health Organization has defined lead as a cumulative toxicant that can affect multiple body systems such as the nervous system, blood and blood vessel system, digestive system and urinary system. Young children are more prone to lead exposure than adults. — The Jakarta Post/ANN

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