Main Article Content

Lead-based paint on playground equipment in public children’s parks in Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni

A Mathee
E Singh
M Mogotsi
G Timothy
B Maduka
J Olivier
D Ing


Objective. To determine the use of lead-based paint in public playgrounds in the municipalities of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni.
Methods. Forty-nine public parks were selected from the municipalities of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni. Lead levels in paint on playground equipment were measured in situ using a hand-held Thermo Scientific NITON XLP 700 Series X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyser.
Results. Playground lead levels ranged from ‘too low to detect’ to 10.4 mg/cm2. The mean and median lead concentrations were 1.9 mg/cm2 and 0.9 mg/cm2 respectively. Forty-eight per cent of lead paint measurements exceeded the internationally accepted reference level of 1 mg/cm2.
Conclusion. The study shows that lead-based paint is widely used in public playgrounds in the three study municipalities, and most likely throughout South Africa. We suggest key actions to ensure that children’s playgrounds in South Africa are lead-free zones, and that childhood lead exposure in these settings is prevented.