Leaded spray paints still sold in Baguio City

Spray paints containing lead up to 30,100 parts per million (ppm) are still sold in Baguio City in clear violation of a Chemical Control Order (CCO) prohibiting lead use in paint manufacturing.

Despite the ban, the toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition revealed that it had purchased from a Baguio retail store imported Yandy Spray Paints with total lead content in excess of the maximum 90 ppm limit.

“These products pose lead-based paint hazards and would be illegal to import, distribute and sell in line with the CCO,” said Manny Calonzo, Adviser, EcoWaste Coalition.  “To protect everyone, especially children, women and workers, from the chronic and debilitating health effects of lead exposure, the government has to vigilantly enforce the lead paint ban.”

As part of its advocacy for a zero waste and toxics-free society, the group on March 27 bought 10 cans of the “made in China” spray paints of various colors from a retail store located in Mabini Street.  The 400 ml spray paints are sold for P120 each.

To determine if the product contains lead, the group first sprayed each sample on a clean piece of wood and, after the sample had dried, screened it for lead using a handheld Olympus Vanta M Series X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer.

The XRF analyzer found nine of the 10 Yandy Spray Paints with lead content above the 90 ppm limit.  A medium yellow paint topped the samples with 30,100 ppm, followed by canary yellow with 10,278 ppm, leaf green 6,363 ppm, Jialing red 5,550 ppm, Shifeng green 3,108 ppm, blackish green 1,766 ppm, cream yellow 689 ppm, fresh green 379 ppm and violet 158 ppm.  A Suzuki red paint tested with 41 ppm of lead. 

To recall, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued the CCO phasing out lead-containing decorative paints and industrial paints from 2013 to 2016 and from 2013 to 2019, respectively. 

The manufacture, importation, distribution and sale of leaded spray paints, which are sold to consumers for touch-up and general uses, should have ceased on December 31, 2016 following the three-year phase-out for lead-containing decorative paints.

A study published by the EcoWaste Coalition and the International Pollutants Elimination Network in 2020 found 37 of the 87 analyzed spray paints sold in the Philippines with violative levels of lead, which subsequently led to the issuance of a public health warning against the purchase and use of such paints.  Among these 37 leaded paint products were two Yandy Spray Paints (deep yellow and jade green).

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Advisory No. 2020-1585 banning the said 37 spray paints, “lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children and can suffer profound and permanent adverse health effects, particularly affecting the development of the brain and nervous system,” warning “there is no permissible level of exposure to lead that is known to be without harmful effects.”