Determination of Heavy Metals in Glassbeads and Thermoplastic Road Markings Raw Materials Used on Kenyan Roads

Transport industry is one of the largest growing industries in Kenya and over the world. It plays important role in today’s economy and employment creation. Road markings are used to guide the motorists on the road and to offer warning information, and consist of mainly paint materials and glass beads. Paint can be defined as a pigmented coating material in liquid or in paste or powder form which when applied to a substrate forms an opaque film having protective, decorative or specific technical properties. Paints can broadly be categorized as:   conventional (liquid) and thermoplastic (powder) paints.

Use of road markings contaminated with heavy metals has been identified as a risk to human health and environment as whole. There is no data on the heavy metals content in road markings used in Kenya. The objective of this study was to determine the heavy metals in road markings raw materials used in production of yellow and white thermoplastic paints and glass beads. Eight samples of consisting of thermoplastic paints of which four of them were imports and the other 4 locally made plus two imported glass beads from different manufacturers were collected and analysed for chemical properties and heavy metals such as lead, titanium, chromium, zinc among others. Analysis of the chemical properties and the heavy metals were conducted through dispersive technique using XRF spectroscopy.

Results showed variations in concentrations of heavy metals and chemical properties from one sample to another. Some levels of heavy metals were high in the road marking paints posing a threat to human health and environment. There is need for policy guidelines and regulations to curb pollution from road markings that do not comply with recommended.

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