Original articles

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

Angela Mathee


Objective: To determine the use of lead-based paint in public playgrounds in the South African municipalities of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni.

Methods: Forty-nine public parks were selected from the municipalities of Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane. Lead levels in paint on playground equipment were measured in situ using a handheld Thermo Scientific NITON® XLP 700 Series x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer.

Results: Playground lead levels ranged from “too low to detect” to 10.4 mg/cm2. The mean and median lead concentrations were 1.9 and 0.9 mg/cm2 respectively. Forty-eight percent of lead paint measurements exceeded the internationally accepted reference level of 1 mg/cm2.

Conclusion: This study shows that lead-based paint is widely used in public children’s 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

Author's affiliations

Angela Mathee, Medical Research Council

Full Text

PDF (206KB)


lead; paint; children; playgrounds; pica; environment

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2009;99(11):819.

Article History

Date submitted: 2009-01-08
Date published: 2009-11-05

Article Views

Abstract views: 2631
Full text views: 1710

Comments on this article

*Read our policy for posting comments here