Schools urged to use lead-free paints in ‘Brigada Eskwela’
The EcoWaste Coalition on Tuesday urged schools, local government units and volunteers to use lead-free paints for the repair and maintenance of school facilities in next week’s “Brigada Eskwela.”
Citing the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Department Order 4, series of 2017, the environmental watchdog group said only water-based or latex decorative paints should be used as much as possible as these paints are free of lead-based additives.
Lead is a toxic and regulated chemical that poses health and environmental hazards. In the DepEd order, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said exposure to toxic lead may cause health impacts “including learning disabilities, anemia and disorders in coordination, visual, spatial and language skills.”
Brigada Eskwela is an annual voluntary effort of school and community members to do repairs and other maintenance work in school facilities in preparation for the upcoming school year.
“The enforcement of the DepEd’s directive will go a long way in reducing lead paint hazards in our schools. For the health and safety of our children, we request our principals, teachers, parent leaders, donors and volunteers to join hands in ensuring that the directive is adhered to,” said Ecowaste Project Protect coordinator Thony Dizon in a statement.
“Paint consumers now have access to a wider range of lead-safe decorative paints as more manufacturers have completed their switch to non-lead paint formulations,” he added.
According to DepEd’s order released last January, “the use of only lead-safe coatings or paints shall be mandatory to all pre-school, elementary and secondary schools.” It also highlighted the importance of safe management of lead-coated surfaces during renovation activities “to prevent the generation and dispersal of lead-containing dust that children may ingest or inhale.”
In the event that oil-based or enamel decorative paints are needed, especially for metal works, EcoWaste said paints with the Lead Safe Paint® mark on the label or independently certified products with no added lead should be used.
The group also reminded Brigada Eswela participants to avoid dry scraping or dry sanding of lead-coated surfaces as these “can scatter and contaminate the surroundings with lead dust.”
Classes in all public elementary and high schools are to officially start on June 5, DepEd announced Monday. CBB/rga
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