Lead paint or lead-based paint is paint containing lead. As pigment, lead(II) chromate (PbCrO
4, "chrome yellow"), lead(II,IV) oxide, (Pb
4, "red lead"), and lead(II) carbonate (PbCO
3, "white lead") are the most common forms. Lead is added to paint to accelerate drying, increase durability, maintain a fresh appearance, and resist moisture that causes corrosion. It is one of the main health and environmental hazards associated with paint. Lead paint has been generally phased out of use due to the toxic nature of lead. Alternatives such as water-based, lead-free traffic paint are readily available.
In some countries, lead continues to be added to paint intended for domestic use, whereas countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom have regulations prohibiting its use. However, lead paint may still be found in older properties painted prior to the introduction of such regulations. Although lead has been banned from household paints in the United States since 1978, it may still be found in road marking paint.
The traditional method of making the pigment was called the stack process. Hundreds or thousands of earthenware pots containing vinegar and lead were embedded in a layer of either tan bark or cow dung. The pots were designed so that the vinegar and lead were in separate compartments, but the lead was in contact with the vapor of the vinegar. The lead was usually coiled into a spiral and placed on a ledge inside the pot. The pot was loosely covered with a grid of lead, which allowed the carbon dioxide formed by the fermentation of the tan bark or the dung to circulate in the pot. Each layer of pots was covered by a new layer of tan, then another layer of pots. The heat created by the fermentation, acetic acid vapor, and carbon dioxide within the stack did their work, and within a month the lead coils were covered with a crust of white lead. This crust was separated from the lead, washed, and ground for pigment. This was an extremely dangerous process for the workmen. Medieval texts warned of the danger of "apoplexy, epilepsy, and paralysis" from working with lead white.
In 1786, Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter warning a friend about the hazards of lead and lead paint, which he considered well-established. Despite the risks, the pigment was very popular with artists because of its density and opacity; a small amount could cover a large surface. It was widely used by artists until the 19th century, when it was replaced by zinc white and titanium white.
The dangers of lead paint were considered well-established by the beginning of the 20th century. In the July 1904 edition of its monthly publication, Sherwin-Williams reported the dangers of paint containing lead, noting that a French expert had deemed lead paint "poisonous in a large degree, both for the workmen and for the inhabitants of a house painted with lead colors". As early as 1886, German health laws prohibited women and children from working in factories processing lead paint and lead sugar.
Lead paint is hazardous. It can cause nervous system damage, stunted growth, kidney damage, and delayed development. It is dangerous to children because it tastes sweet, therefore encouraging children to put lead chips and toys with lead dust in their mouths. Lead paint can cause reproductive problems, including a decrease in sperm concentration in men. Lead is also considered a likely carcinogen. High levels of exposure can be lethal.
In Canada, regulations were first enacted under the Hazardous Products Act in 1976 that limited lead content of paints and other liquid coatings on furniture, household products, children's products, and exterior and interior surfaces of any building frequented by children to 0.5% by weight. New regulations on surface coating materials, which came into force in 2005, further limit lead to its background level for both interior and exterior paints sold to consumers. Canadian paint manufacturers have been conforming to this background level in their interior and exterior consumer paints since 1991. Nevertheless, a Canadian company, Dominion Colour Corporation, is "the largest manufacturer of lead-based paint pigments in the world" and has faced public criticism for obtaining permission from the European Chemicals Agency to continue to export lead chromate paints from its Dutch subsidiary to countries where its uses are not tightly regulated.
Lead paint is banned in the European Union by the 2003 Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS), which forbids hazardous substances in consumer goods, including paint. This act superseded and harmonized existing laws of the member states, many of which had banned lead paint years before.
To protect the health of painters, France had passed in 1909 a law banning the use of paints containing lead for the painting of the interior and exterior of all buildings.
Lead paint was not prohibited in India until 2016. A 2015 study found that over 31% of household paints in India (small brands manufactured by small and medium enterprises in India, with limited local reach and distribution) had lead concentration above 10,000 parts per million (ppm), which far exceeds the BIS standard of 90 ppm for lead in paint. The Regulation on Lead Contents in Household and Decorative Paint Rules came into effect on 1 November 2017, according to which the paints should have lead less than 90 ppm and their label should say so. However, two years later, an analysis of 32 locally-manufactured paint samples from nine states found lead content ranging from 10 ppm to 186,062 ppm, with 90% of samples having lead levels above 90 ppm.
The Philippines banned lead paint in 2013, but in 2017, 15% of the paint still was not certified. The EcoWaste Coalition and the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers declared on 1 January 2020 that the Philippines has phased-out lead paint following the implementation of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013–24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, which directed manufacturers of lead-containing paints for industrial uses to phase out such paints by 31 December 2019.
In South Africa, the Hazardous Substances Act of 2009 classifies lead as a hazardous substance and limits its use in paint to 600 parts per million (ppm). A proposed amendment will modify this to 90 ppm, thereby almost completely eradicating lead from paint. The amendment would also include all industrial paints, which were previously excluded.[needs update]
Lead paint was banned in the United Kingdom in 1992.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) banned lead paint in 1977 in residential properties and public buildings (16 CFR 1303), along with toys and furniture containing lead paint. The cited reason was "to reduce the risk of lead poisoning in children who may ingest paint chips or peelings". For manufacturers, the CPSC instituted the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, which changed the cap on lead content in paint from 0.06% to 0.009% starting 14 August 2009. In 2018 the State of Delaware banned the use of lead paint on outdoor structures. Also, the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act (a.k.a. the "Lead Paint Act") was created in order to ensure that the disclosure of any lead-based hazards in a building be discussed with potential buyers or renters of units. While EPA and HUD have defined LBP as being 1.0 mg/cm2 (as measure by XRF) or 0.5% lead by dry weight (aka 5,000 ppm), some states and municipalities gone beyond this. For example, New York City's Local Law 66 of 2019 defines LBP as 0.500 mg/cm2 (XRF) or 0.25% lead dry weight (2,500 ppm). 
In April 2010 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required that all renovators working in homes built before 1978 and disturbing more than 6 square feet (0.56 m2) of lead paint inside the home or 20 square feet (1.9 m2) outside the home be certified. EPA's Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP Rule) lowers the risk of lead contamination from home renovation activities. It requires that firms performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities and pre-schools (any child occupied facility) built before 1978 be certified by EPA and use certified renovators who are trained by EPA-approved training providers to follow lead-safe work practices.
Lead paint in art
In art, white lead paint is known as "flake white" or "Cremnitz white". It is valued for the ease of handling and resilience the lead confers to oil paints. Lead white paint dries relatively quickly to form a strong, flexible paint film. Lead-based white is one of the oldest manufactured pigments. It was the only white pigment available to artists in appreciable quantities until the twentieth century, when zinc white and titanium white became available. Industrially produced lead white, the typical pigment from the 19th century until its ban, was thought to be inferior to traditionally fabricated forms, which had larger "flake" particles that conferred ease of handling.
Titanium and zinc whites are far less toxic than lead white and have largely supplanted it in most fine arts applications. Safety regulations have also made lead white more expensive and difficult to obtain in some regions, such as the EU. Lead white oil paints are still produced and in use by artists who prefer their unique handling, mixing, and structural qualities. Lead white has also shown to have extended longevity compared to zinc and titanium which will to crack much earlier. 
Flake white has various drawbacks, including a tendency to become transparent over time. It also blackens in the presence of certain atmospheric pollutants, although this can be reversed.
Lead is not a traditional pigment in water media, as zinc is superior for works on paper, as is calcium hydroxide (slaked lime) for frescos. Lead-based paints, when used on paper, often cause the work to become discolored after long periods; the paint's lead carbonate reacts with hydrogen sulfide in the air and with acids, which often come from fingerprints.
Paint manufacturers have replaced white lead with a less toxic substitute, titanium dioxide, which was first used in paints in the 19th century. Titanium dioxide is considered safe enough to use as a food coloring and in toothpaste, and is a common ingredient in sunscreen. Titanium white has far greater opacity and tinting strength than lead white, and it can easily overpower most other pigments if not mixed carefully. Titanium white has been criticized for leading to "chalkiness" in mixtures.
Zinc white is less opaque and weaker in tinting strength than either titanium white or lead white. It is commonly used to lighten mixtures subtly while maintaining transparency. Although zinc white is the standard white in watercolors, its structural soundness in oils has been debated. Zinc white dries slowly and creates a relatively inflexible paint film. Critics of the pigment argue that its use leads to excessive cracking and delamination, even when used sparingly.
- Environmental issues with paint
- Lead-based paint in the United Kingdom
- Lead-based paint in the United States
- Lead tetroxide
- Lead–crime hypothesis
- Lead abatement
- Völz, Hans G.; et al. (2006). "Pigments, Inorganic". Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry. Weinheim: Wiley-VCH. doi:10.1002/14356007.a20_243.pub2. ISBN 3527306730..
- "Lead-laden paint still widely sold around the world". Reuters. 25 August 2009. Archived from the original on 25 January 2021. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- "Lead Chromate: Why it is Banned in Most Industries Apart From Road Markings". Road Traffic Technology. Verdict Media Limited. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
- Daniel V. Thompson, The Materials and Techniques of Medieval Painting, pp. 90–91.
- Benjamin Franklin (18 June 2011). Nathan G. Goodman (ed.). The Ingenious Dr. Franklin: Selected Scientific Letters of Benjamin Franklin. ISBN 978-1258046989. Archived from the original on 1 May 2021. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
- Philip Ball (2000), Bright Earth, Art and the Invention of Colour, pg. 99.
- Guenther, Richard (24 February 1904). "Dangers of White Lead". Hathitrust. Sherwin Williams Co. Archived from the original on 12 August 2018. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
- Ayaß, Wolfgang [in German], ed. (1 January 1999). Quellensammlung zur Geschichte der deutschen Sozialpolitik 1867 bis 1914, II. Abteilung: Von der kaiserlichen Sozialbotschaft bis zu den Februarerlassen Wilhelms II. (1881-1890), 3. Band: Arbeiterschutz [Collection of Original Texts on the History of German Social Policy from 1867 through 1914, 2nd Series: from the Imperial Social Message Through the February Decrees of Wilhelm II (1881-1890), 3rd volume: Worker protection] (in German). Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft. ISBN 3-534-13440-0., sections 26 & 121
- Frowein, Jochen A; Rüdiger, Wolfrum (2000). Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. ISBN 90-411-1403-3.
- Gottesfeld, Perry (29 May 2013). "The West's toxic hypocrisy over lead paint". New Scientist. Archived from the original on 20 July 2018. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (August 2007). "ToxFAQs™ for Lead". Center for Disease Control. Archived from the original on 21 May 2012. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
- Bonde, J. P.; Joffe, M.; Apostoli, P.; Dale, A.; Kiss, P.; Spano, M.; Caruso, F.; Giwercman, A.; Bisanti, L.; Porru, S.; Vanhoorne, M.; Comhaire, F.; Zschiesche, W. (April 2002). "Sperm count and chromatin structure in men exposed to inorganic lead: lowest adverse effect levels". Occupational and Environmental Medicine. PubMed. 59 (4): 234–242. doi:10.1136/oem.59.4.234. PMC 1740274. PMID 11934950.
- "Some Commonly Asked Questions About Lead and Human Health". Ottawa, ON: Health Canada. 23 April 2009. Archived from the original on 6 July 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
- "Lead and Health". Health Canada. Archived from the original on 3 June 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
- Fowler, Jennifer (1 December 2015). "Toronto company's lead-based products a danger to world health, critics say". CBC News. Toronto, ON. Archived from the original on 19 April 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
- "Bulletin de l'Inspection du Travail et de l'Hygiène Industrielle" (PDF). Inspection du Travail Page 172. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 January 2020. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
- Datta, Aesha. "CPCB norms seek to cap lead content in paints at 90 ppm". The Hindu Business Line. Chennai. Archived from the original on 12 July 2020. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
- Aggarwal, Mayank (28 April 2016). "Govt proposes to ban household paint with high lead content". Mint. New Delhi. Archived from the original on 14 July 2020. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
- "Over 31 percent paints have alarming levels of lead: study". The Indian Express. Mumbai. 9 June 2015. Archived from the original on 6 July 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
- Vyawahare, Malavika (2 November 2017). "If your paint label doesn't say 'lead less than 90 ppm,' don't buy it". Hindustan Times. New Delhi. Archived from the original on 12 July 2020. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
- Oppili, P (23 June 2020). "Tamil Nadu: Paints continue to have more lead than prescribed". The Times of India. Chennai. Archived from the original on 24 June 2020. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
- Mogensen, Jackie Flynn (23 April 2018). "You'll Probably Never Save as Many Lives as This Guy Who Got the Philippines to Stop Using Lead Paint". Mother Jones. Archived from the original on 23 April 2018. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
- "Philippines Successfully Completes Phase-Out of All Lead-Containing Paints". Philippine Canadian Inquirer. 5 January 2020. Archived from the original on 6 January 2020. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
- Bulbulia, Tasneem. "Proposed amendment to legislation set to eliminate lead in paint". Engineering News. Archived from the original on 23 September 2020. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
- "CPSC Announces Final Ban on Lead-Containing Paint". US Consumer Product Safety Commission. 2 September 1977. Archived from the original on 19 August 2010.
- State of Delaware, General Assembly (29 August 2018). "HB 456. An Act to Amend Titles 14, 16, 17, 26, and 29 of the Delaware Code Relating to the Use of Lead Paints on Outdoor Structures". Archived from the original on 11 October 2018. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
- Bailey, Adam Leitman (7 November 2019). "Case Study: Whether a Title Company is Liable for Lead-Paint Contamination when Documents Indicated Lead Paint Existed". Washington, DC: American Land Title Association. Archived from the original on 23 January 2021. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
- "The Lead Disclosure Rule". Washington, DC: US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Archived from the original on 13 January 2020. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
- "Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Program Rules". Washington, DC: US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 14 September 2020. Archived from the original on 14 February 2021. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
- "Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Program". EPA. 15 October 2020. Archived from the original on 6 July 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
- Schmidt, Charles (21 March 2018). "America's Misguided War on Childhood Lead Exposures". Cambridge, MA: Undark. Archived from the original on 22 March 2018. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
- Mayer, Ralph (1991). The artist's handbook of materials and techniques (5. ed., rev. and updated ed.). New York City: Viking. ISBN 0670837016.
- Claire L. Hoevel (1985). "A Study of the Discoloration Products Found in White Lead Paint". The American Institute for Conservation: Book and Paper Group Annual. 4. Archived from the original on 9 June 2007. Retrieved 28 April 2007.
- "Zinc White – Problems in Oil Paint?". Natural Pigments LLC. Archived from the original on 6 February 2011.
- Rutherford J. Gettens; Hermann Kühn; W. T. Chase (1967). "Identification of the Materials of Paintings: Lead White". Studies in Conservation. 12 (4): 125–139. doi:10.2307/1505410. JSTOR 1505410.
- Ball, Philip (2001). Bright Earth- Art and the Invention of Colour. Penguin Group. ISBN 9782754105033.
- Gifford, Donald G (2010). Suing the Tobacco and Lead Pigment Industries: Government Litigation as Public Health Prescription. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-11714-7.
- Thomson, Daniel (1956). The Materials and Techniques of Medieval Painting. Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-20327-1.