Reports from November that the Health Ministry issued should have Israelis concerned. The finding is a worrying one, with warnings that excessive levels of lead were found in the paint in playground equipment.

The report took samples of paint from 50 locations along with the cooperation of Israel Standards Institution.

Three locations were the focus of the study: Bnei Brak, Tel Aviv and Hadera. Initial data suggests that the permitted lead concentration was 300% above what other countries, namely the United States, deem acceptable. The high levels of lead were found in tables, benches and playgrounds.

Lead should be a hot topic for residents, especially since our kids are surrounded by it. Lead exposure can cause serious health complications, with impacts on:

  • Development
  • Behavior
  • Learning

Children are also known to put everything in their mouths, including paint chips. Direct contact like this can be deadly. High levels of lead exposure leads to poisoning, which can lead to death. Short-term effects are non-existent, but with the potential of ingesting the lead and possible long-term exposure, no one wants their kids to be subject to lead exposure.

Other countries have long since restricted lead content in public spaces and in household paints.

But Israel doesn’t have restrictions on lead paints. The only exception to this rule is that there are restrictions on lead paint when it’s used on household products and toys for children. The question is: why aren’t these same restrictions in place for playgrounds?

The issue goes much deeper than lead in paint in Israel, too.

Lead is also a major issue in cafes and restaurants, and this was found in 2017 without the Health Ministry making the issue a major focus. Yes, the Ministry did issue a statement against espresso machines that businesses quickly scrambled to replace.

Contaminated water lines, when speaking of lead contamination, are not an issue that can be resolved with hydro jetting or basic drain cleaning issues. The findings from the government also warned against the consumption of coffee in restaurants, cafes and kitchens.

Pregnant women were warned against any consumption of coffee or espresso.

Lead traces exceeded permitted concentrations in industrial coffee. The ministry downplayed the issue claiming that there was no immediate danger.

The good news is that startups are taking the reins to help residents know if their drinking water is safe to drink. Miles of old pipes need to be replaced, and in older areas, there is a greater risk of these pipes causing lead contamination.

Lishtot has created a device called “Sensor,” which tests the safety of drinking water. Contaminants found in the testing included: copper, chlorine, arsenic, lead, E. Coli and mercury. The test is completed in seconds, and the device is like a keychain.

Point the device at the water, and it will light up red if contamination is found.

Stricter regulations and restriction against lead needs to take center stage before any actionable impact is made. Lead use is much lower for household paints than in the past, and while lead in drinking water is often an infrastructure issue, it’s an issue that needs to be corrected.