The trade ministry says toxic PCBs have been detected in 57 paint pigments in a voluntary probe by six makers and importers.
As two of the 57 items contain polychlorinated biphenyls exceeding the international safety limit of 50 parts per million, the ministry on Friday ordered Dainichiseika Color & Chemicals Mfg Co., the maker, to recall the products for coloring and printing ink.
Production or import of PCBs is banned in Japan because of their extreme toxicity. A ministry official said the concentration of PCBs decreases to less than one-tenth in final product paints, so even constant exposure is unlikely to pose a health risk.
About 2.9 tons of the pigments subject to the recall are sold each year. If Dainichiseika fails to reduce the concentration level in the pigments, the ministry will order it to halt production.
In total, the ministry has asked 41 pigment makers and importers, as well as 1,400 companies dealing in chemical substances, to check if their products contain PCBs.