India holds public consultation on revised standard for iron oxide pigments for paints

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is seeking comments until 20 April 2024 on the third revision of the standard for iron oxide pigments used in paints. The standard (IS 44) was first released in 1950. 

The draft standard proposed by BIS aims to address health and safety concerns and restrictions related to lead and toxic heavy metals in paint ingredients. 

Changes to the revised standard:  

The aim of this third revision is to improve the acceptability and relevance of the product by bringing it into compliance with current market requirements. Notable changes include:  

  1. The material classification has been reorganized into color-based groups, categories (represented as iron (III) oxide), grades based on sieve residue, types based on water soluble matter content and total water soluble chlorides and sulfates (represented as Cl and SO42– ions), and classes based on the origin of the material. By replacing the previous seven classes, this change brought the criteria into line with current market practice.  
  2. Furthermore, requirements of each classification and associated test procedures have been revised. For example, new standards have been added to the colour measurement, staining power, and undertone test methods.  
  3. Restrictions have been introduced for lead and toxic heavy metals to address health and safety concerns. 
  4. Finally, several revisions and updates to references have been made to make the updated standard more accurate and relevant. 

According to the proposed standard, iron oxide pigments are classified as follows:  

  • By groups depending on their colour.  
  • By categories depending on their iron content, expressed as iron (III) oxide.
  • By types depending on their content of water-soluble matter and their total content of water-soluble chlorides and sulfates, expressed as the ions Cl and SO42–.
  • By grades depending on their residue on sieve. 
  • By classes depending on their origin. 

Furthermore, according to the draft, the substance should not contain more than 90 ppm of lead, lead compounds or mixtures of the two,. Also, the following substances, separately or in combination, are limited to a maximum of 0.1 percent by weight: 

  • mercury
  • mercury compounds
  • cadmium
  • arsenic
  • chromium VI
  • antimony
  • and their oxides 

The draft recommends that packaging be marked or labelled with the following information: 

  • The name of the substance
  • Group, Category, Type, Grade and Class of the substance
  • Source of manufacture 
  • The month and year of manufacture
  • Expiry date/shelf life/best before  
  • The substance’s net mass
  • The batch and lot number 
  • The maximum lead content 
  • The toxic heavy metals content 
  • Cautionary notes (‘Keep out of reach of children’ or ‘This product may be harmful if swallowed or inhaled’). 


The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is consulting on the revised standard for iron oxide pigments used in paints until 20 April 2024 

We acknowledge that the above information has been compiled from BIS.


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