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  QUESTION: Raising awareness in India with the 1904 child lead poison from peeling household paints in Australia 23 Dec 2008 Karnataka, India

Child lead poisoning was reported in Australia 1892. Lead colic in 10 children was the trigger to start searching.

Please let me know the original episode. Am doing awareness drive Lead Poisoning in residential areas in Bangalore. Public will take note if I get the child lead poison due to peeling household paints in Australia story. Am following up on Mike van Alphens paper read during seminar Lead Poisoning Bangalore 1999. Q Can children have Lead Colic or is it more present in adults ? Lead colic comes from heavier dosage of Lead ingestion ?

EMAIL TWO From: Bikram Sent: Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ms Elizabeth,

What happened in Australia 100 yrs back needs to be cited to get faster public reaction here in India. Can I get Mr Alphens e mail address. I have the proceedings of Bangalore meet.. Some queries.

Does Australia have special lead free paints for road marking ?

Ultralast coating from Australia is being sold in India . It was used in some Airport & Bondi beach pool. Do paints in Australia have a special marking showing NO LEAD ADDED ? ICI paints have that in INDIA..

I intend to take up this issue ( get lead free paint makes ) to general neighborhood schools / houses.


BBSatpathi Tele 25448831 390 Jal Vayu Vihar, Kalyannagar BANGALORE 560043‍

ANSWER: 24 Dec 2008

Dear Bikram,

Although I tried very hard to obtain the funding to go to the Lead Poisoning Conference in Bangalore in 1999, I was unable to get there so I can't be sure that Mike van Alphen presented the info about lead colic. What you are asking about is definitely the kind of thing that Mike van Alphen could easily have presented at the conference but according to The Impact Of Lead Poisoning On The Workforce And Society the following statement was made by Dr Yasmin von Schirnding:

"Lead poisoning in children was first reported in Australia in 1892, although it was not until twelve years later that the source (lead based peeling paint) was identified in this case series of ten children with lead colic."

Although the conference paper quoted above does not give references, I believe that the two references are

  • "Notes On Lead-Poisoning As Observed Among Children In Brisbane" by Gibson, J. Lockhart; Love, Wilton; Harden, David, Bancroft, Peter; and Turner, A. Jefferis, published in Intercolonial Medical Congress Of Australia, Third Session, 1892.

  • "A Plea For Painted Railings And Painted Walls Of Rooms As The Source Of Lead Poisoning Amongst Queensland Children" by Gibson, J. Lockhart, published in the The Australasian Medical Gazette, 20th April 1904;23:149–153.

There is no reason that I can see that a child cannot have lead colic although it is more usual for the very high dosage of lead that causes lead colic, to occur in adult workers. Here are some definitions from which do not mention that the condition is age-limited:

Lead colic: severe colicky abdominal pain, with constipation, symptomatic of lead poisoning. SYN: Devonshire colic, painter's colic, Poitou colic, saturnine colic.
Source: Stedman's Medical Spellchecker, © 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. All rights reserved.

Lead colic: symptom of chronic lead poisoning and associated with obstinate constipation.Source: WordNet 2.1

I hope this helps.

All the best

Yours Sincerely

Elizabeth O’Brien

EMAIL TWO Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dear Bikram,

I'm so sorry that I did not notice your December 27th email until today. It arrived with hundreds of others during our holidays.

The email address for Mike van Alphen  - he is now a student at the University of South Australia.

The Australian Paint Manufacturers Federation (APMF) has cooperated with The LEAD Group and the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme to stop leaded paints being sold in Australia as of this year. Unfortunately, the new regulation won't stop the importation of articles painted with leaded paint. Up until the new regulation comes into play, the non-residential paints on sale in Australia simply have to state that they contain lead and include a health warning on the container. It is my understanding that road marking paints manufactured by any of the paint companies that are members of APMF have not been leaded for some years. I personally collected a sample of new road-marking paint used in my suburb about 10 years ago and had it analysed at a lab - it contained a negligible level of lead below the limit of detection,

Yours Sincerely

Elizabeth O'Brien‍

Paint Film Components M van Alphen, NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH FORUM National Environmental Health Monographs General Series No. 2 1998

Update 2010: Lead In Paints INVESTIGATORS Dr. Sapna Johnson, Dr. Nirmali Saikia, Mr. Ramakant Sahu. ADVISORS Prof. (Dr.) H. B. Mathur, Prof. (Dr.) H. C. Agarwal, DATE August 2009. CENTRE FOR SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT, 41, TUGHLAKABAD INSTITUTIONAL AREA, NEW DELHI –110062

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