GENEVA, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) Friday called for avoiding the use of lead paint and using safe alternatives in order to prevent children coming to harm from lead poisoning.
The appeal came on the occastion of the International Lead Poisoning Awareness Prevention Week which runs from October 20 to 26.
Lead has been identified by WHO as one of ten chemicals of major public health concern. Lead poisoning has devastating health consequences in particular for children, with childhood lead exposure estimated to contribute to 600,000 new cases of children with intellectual disabilities every year, WHO stressed.
"Lead poisoning remains one of the most important environmental health concerns for children globally, and lead paint is a major flashpoint for children's potential lead poisoning," said Dr Maria Neira, WHO's director for Public Health and Environment, in a statement.
In spite of the negative effect, the exposure to lead paint can be entirely stopped through a range of measures to restrict the production and use of lead paint, Neira highlighted.
WHO appealed for action by member states to protect the health of workers, children and women of reproductive age. Actions include adopting regulations and procedures to eliminate the use of lead decorative paints and provide information to the public on renovation of homes where lead paint may have already been applied.
Statistics from WHO showed that worldwide, 30 countries have already phased out the use of lead paint. The Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, co-led by WHO and United Nations Environment Programme, has set a target of extending the action to 70 countries by 2015.