Groups back DepEd’s pro-health policy on lead-safe paints

The Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers (PAPM), an industry organization and the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental health organization, have both reminded the public to only use lead-safe paints for the ongoing Brigada Eskwela.

In a joint statement, the PAPM and the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated their full support to the over five-year-old policy of the Department of Education (DepEd) promoting a lead-free school environment for all child learners.

“We enjoin all Brigada Eskwela participants, especially corporate and individual supporters, to provide and make use of paints without added lead in renovating our schools in line with DepEd’s policy.  Consumers can choose from a wide variety of paint brands and colors in the market that are compliant to the country’s lead paint regulation,” said Charles Kwa, President, PAPM.

“Keeping lead paint out of our schools and properly addressing the problem with old lead painted surfaces will contribute to raising bright and smart kids in a healthy school environment,” said Manny Calonzo, Adviser, EcoWaste Coalition, noting “childhood lead exposure can result in reduced intelligence and other negative health outcomes.”

Department Order 4, series of 2017, issued by then DepEd chief Leonor Briones, the  predecessor of Vice President and concurrent Education Secretary Sara Duterte, requires the use of lead-safe paints in preparatory, secondary and elementary schools.

“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,” according to the said order titled “Mandatory Use of Lead-Safe Paints in Schools.”

Such paints are to be used in all painting and/or repainting works of school buildings, classrooms, libraries, clinics, toilets, offices, playgrounds, covered courts, gate, fence and the like, furniture such as tables, chairs and cabinets, fixtures such as blackboards, as well as other learning materials, tools and equipment.

The said policy applies to paint-coated goods or products directly procured by the school as well as those sourced by other means such as through individual, group, corporate or local government donations, which should be compliant to DENR Administrative Order 2013-24, the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, and other lead-related regulations.

Toward a lead-safe Brigada Eskwela, the PAPM and the EcoWaste Coalition further reminded the school clean-up and renovation participants to:

1.  Make use of compliant lead-free or lead-safe paints.

2.  Keep children and at-risk adults, particularly pregnant women, out of the work area.

3.  Avoid disturbing lead painted surfaces; refrain from scraping or sanding to avoid scattering lead contaminated dust.

4.  Keep the worksite clean through wet wiping dusty objects and areas.

5.  Wash hands properly with soap and water, and avoid bringing lead dust into the home.

A more technical guide for evaluating and controlling lead-based paint hazards is available at the PAPM website.

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