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Lead-free paint for city playgrounds

Manila mayor orders all swings, see-saws, monkey bars checked
/ 10:28 PM December 03, 2011

Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim on Saturday ordered a probe into reports of lead content in paint used in the city’s playgrounds even as he directed his officials to search for paint free of the chemical for use in other facilities.

Lim directed his chief of staff and media bureau chief Ric de Guzman and city administrator Jay Marzon to form a team, composed of the city hall’s different units, to conduct an  investigation and to come up with recommendations should problems  be found.

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Lim cited reports indicating that lead exposure is high if the paint has been scraped and that there is no threat from lead content if the paint is new.

The mayor instructed the two city officials to “scout for lead-free paints to ensure the safety of the children using the said equipment in the city’s public playgrounds.”

He tasked the team to be formed by the city officials to ensure constant monitoring of the reportedly  affected playgrounds so repainting of the see-saws, monkey bars, and swings in them could be undertaken if necessary.

“We have to safeguard the health of the children patronizing the playgrounds so I have ordered the search for lead-free paint,”  Lim said.

The mayor also tapped barangay officials and residents to help monitor the public playgrounds by immediately reporting to city hall if paint on the equipment have  already started chipping off, pointing out that the end-users themselves are the best source of information.

The mayor’s order followed a call last week by 2nd district Councilor Numero Lim who sought in a resolution  filed Thursday a lead hazard assessment on the city’s public playgrounds.

The alderman’s resolution was based on a finding by environmental group,  EcoWaste Coalition, that  55 percent of their samples taken off equipment in five Manila playgrounds yielded lead levels up to 200,700 parts per million.

EcoWaste had tested the paint on 29 see-saws, monkey bars, and swings in Rizal Park Children’s Playground in Ermita, Plaza Azul, Quirino Ave., Pandacan, Plaza de la Virgen, West Zamora St., Pandacan, and Dakota Playground, Adriatico St., Malate. It was discovered by the group that 16 of the paint samples tested positive for lead content, far exceeding the 90-ppm safety limit.

“Why is the city allowing children to be in danger? The children may be having fun but they don’t know their playgrounds are toxic,” the alderman said, in a phone interview.

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He said officials were either “unaware” of the toxic risks or scrimping because lead-free paint was more expensive.

“The lead levels found in some equipment are simply mind-blowing.  Playgrounds should be safe from all sources of harm, including chemicals that can impair a child’s healthy development,” Lim said. With a report by Jaymee T. Gamil

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TAGS: Children, Health, lead, playground, Safety
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