Dangerous paint used in play equipment, experts warn

Despite some of the samples being less that ten years old, the scientists found chemicals present with up to 40 times the recommended concentrations. In particular, high levels of chromium, antimony and cadmium were identified.

Current guidelines in the UK direct that new paint should be lead-free or contain less than 2,500 parts per million. However, the new research revealed that in some cases, levels of uo to 152,000 parts per million of lead were detected and were mostly present in yellow and red paints.

Dr Andrew Turner, reader in Environmental Science at Plymouth University, said: “While undisturbed and intact, coatings and their chemical components are relatively safe. But once the film begins to deteriorate through abrasion or via exposure to UV light and moisture, the paint begins to crack, flake and chalk and metal-bearing particulates are mobilised into the environment.

“The effects of lead on human health, including those that impact on the neurological development of children, are well-documented with regard to paint exposure in urban and domestic settings.’

Turner also warned that the results of this research would probably be replicated across the UK.

He added: “It is difficult to attribute poisoning directly to paint on playground equipment because the effects of lead are cumulative and children may be exposed to a multitude of sources of lead in domestic and urban settings.

“But previous studies around elevated lead in blood levels and the ingestion of paint chips have strongly suggested that paint is the source of intoxication.”