Group acts to take lead out of paint
MANILA, Philippines—Don’t paint your child’s future with poison.
Anti-toxics campaigner EcoWaste Coalition on Friday launched a multi-sector campaign to phase out lead-based paint in the Philippines, warning the public of serious health risks arising from the substance, including brain damage in children.
EcoWaste, a network of over 125 environment groups pursuing zero waste and chemical safety, will implement a European Union-funded project to eliminate the manufacture, import, export, sale, and use of lead-based decorative paints in the country.
At the launch of the campaign in Quezon City, EcoWaste coordinator Edwin Alejo noted that while some paint companies have shifted to non-lead ingredients, a number of household paints still contain the chemical.
Along with other popular goods such as toys and other children’s articles found to have traces of lead, household paints remain a serious health threat to unsuspecting consumers, especially children, women of child-bearing age, and workers, he said.
“Being a brain toxin, there is no compelling reason why leaded paints should be used further inside our homes, our schools, playgrounds, buildings, and in any articles that are being used by our children,” Alejo said.
Manny Calonzo, co-chair of the International POPS [persistent organic pollutants] Elimination Network and a former EcoWaste president, said developed countries stopped production and use of lead-based paints many decades ago.
“Until recently, everyone thought it was a dead issue. But in many developing countries like the Philippines, lead paint remains a real health and environmental problem,” he said.
An analysis of local paints conducted by EcoWaste this year found that 32 percent of 25 samples had lead, although the amounts were below 90 ppm (parts per million), while eight had no detectable lead.
But EcoWaste cited a letter it received from Health Secretary Enrique Ona in which he wrote that “lead is highly toxic and even low levels of lead are harmful.”
“Levels as low as 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood are associated with decreased intelligence, behavior problems, reduced physical stature and growth, as well as impaired hearing,” Ona’s letter said.
“Thus, clinical toxicologists have indicated that there are no safe levels for lead exposure among children. This fact makes banning of substances containing lead an imperative,” he added.
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