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Goodbye to leaded paints

  • Written by Joey C. Papa
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 216

This year’s commemoration of the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action (October 22 to
28) should make all Filipinos proud as our country bids farewell to lead-containing paints, a common
source of childhood lead exposure, Manny Calonzo, adviser of  the IPEN Global Lead Paint Elimination
Campaign said. IPEN or the International POPS (Persistent Organic Pollutants) Elimination Network, is a
global NGO network for a toxics-free future.

“After a three-year grace period, the phase-out of lead-containing paints used for residential
houses, schools and for other decorative purposes is now in force,” Calonzo said.  Thus, the
manufacture, importation, distribution, and sale of such paints are now illegal in keeping with the
Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds (CCO).
        
The CCO issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) a few days before
Christmas 2013,  according to the statement of Calonzo, bans paint with lead in excess of 90 parts per
million (ppm) and provides for a transition period to allow manufacturers to replace lead in paint
formulations. The phase-out period was three years (2013-2016) for lead-containing paints for
architectural, decorative and household applications, and six years (2013-2019) for lead-containing
paints for industrial applications.
    
As further contained in the statement, Department of Education Secretary Leonor Briones then
issued Department Order No. 4 in January 2017 requiring the mandatory use of lead-safe paints in all
preparatory, elementary and secondary schools, so that the "use of lead safe paints shall reduce
children’s exposure to toxic lead via lead-containing paint and dust, thus, avoiding health impacts
including learning disabilities, anemia and disorders in coordination, visual, spatial, and language
skills."
    
Former secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Judy Taquiwalo followed
suit in May 2017 with a circular directing the use of lead-safe paints in residential and non-
residential facilities run by DSWD or its accredited agencies and institutions.  These facilities cater
to disadvantaged and vulnerable sectors, especially children.
    
The imperative now is for the CCO to be effectively implemented and that other agencies
replicate what DepEd and DSWD did, Calonzo stressed.  The Department of the  Interior and Local
Government  (DILG), he suggested, should mainstream the ban on leaded paints among local governments
units, which, without doubt, are a major paint consumer. “Paints purchased by LGUs using taxpayers’
money must be compliant with the CCO.  Government facilities, particularly schools, day care centers,
playgrounds, sport and recreational centers, hospitals and even emergency evacuation centers, including
their furnishings and fixtures, should pose zero hazards from lead paints.”
    
Should LGUs partner with corporate and civic entities for construction and renovation projects,
they must insist that only certified lead-free paints are used, especially for facilities used by
children, Calonzo advised. Finding paints conforming to the standard should not be a tough job as many
companies have already replaced lead additives in their paint formulations as required by law, he said.
    
According to the latest investigation conducted by IPEN, said Calonzo, 80 of the 104 solvent-
based paints for home use analyzed representing 54 paint brands were in compliance with the 90 ppm
total lead content limit.  Fifty of 54 these paint brands had at least one compliant product indicating
the availability of paints without added lead in the market.  While not yet 100 percent compliant, this
definitely is a big boost to eliminating lead paints in the country.
    
I presume that some old leaded paints might still be on store shelves. Paint companies should
take the initiative of voluntarily retrieving old stocks from hardware stores out of concern for
consumers who have no way of decoding the batch number on the paint can.  To help consumers in
selecting paints that will pose no lead hazard to children, paint products should also be independently
evaluated and certified as lead safe.
    
Yes to children’s health!  Goodbye to leaded paints.
    
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