Watchdog Welcomes Reduced Lead Levels of QMC's Play and Work-Out Equipment

Quezon City.  The Quezon City Government got a pat on the back for dramatically reducing the levels of lead, a highly toxic chemical, in exercise, fitness and recreation equipment at the Quezon Memorial Circle.

From having outrageously high lead concentrations reaching up to 320,000 parts per million (ppm) in 2012, the EcoWaste Coalition noted the dramatic drop in the amounts of lead detected in various types of play and work-out equipment in the park.

In April last year, the EcoWaste Coalition alerted Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista about the hazards posed by the extremely leaded equipment in the park many of which have seen better days with paints chipping off and needing serious remediation or replacement.

Yesterday, September 7, the EcoWaste Coalition returned to the park to check on the renovation efforts being carried out by the Quezon City Parks Development and Administration.

Equipped with a portable X-Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, the group analyzed a total of 40 samples, including 16 newly-installed equipment imported from South Korea, 4 new stainless steel equipment, 10  refurbished equipment and 10 picnic table and chair sets.

All the 4 stainless steel equipment and the 10 sets of red oxide painted tables and chairs showed no detectable levels of lead, the group said.

“While we still detected varying levels of lead in some of the new and old equipment, their concentrations were very much lower compared to what we found in 2012,” noted Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project.

“For instance, a leg press equipment that we tested last year had 320,000 ppm of lead.  A similar equipment we recently analyzed had 5,221 ppm of lead,” he said.

“A twin arm warmer equipment last year indicated over 100,000 ppm of lead and a comparable equipment this year showed 259 ppm of lead,” he added.

The limit for lead in paint and surface coatings is 90 ppm under the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and in the draft Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

As the local government expands its renovation efforts to cover other parks and playgrounds in Quezon City, the EcoWaste Coalition urged Mayor Bautista to aim for unleaded public facilities during his second term of office.

“By adopting and applying non-lead, non-toxic green procurement policy, we know that the city’s parks and other public amenities will truly become child and family-friendly,” Dizon said.

“Suppliers should be required to provide only ‘no lead added’ equipment to replace the tainted ones, or unleaded paint to patch up the expended ones,” Dizon said.

To prevent children and other park visitors from being exposed to lead, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated the following suggestions:

1. Block off the lead-tainted equipment, particularly those that are already worn out and with chipping paint, replace them with non-lead equipment or repaint them with a certified lead-free paint.

2. Avoid disturbing lead-containing paint to prevent the dispersal of contaminated chips, flakes or dust that children can breathe or swallow or come in contact with their skin.

3. Conduct visual inspection and lead hazard assessment of all public playgrounds in the city, as well as other government maternity and pediatric wards, day care centers and schools in the city, to identify contaminated fixtures and facilities and ensure professional remediation to ensure children’s safety.

4. Regularly monitor lead-containing equipment in good condition for chipping, flaking or weathering.

5. Check the lead levels in soil within the playground to determine if lead has built up there, especially in spots where children often gather and play.

6.  Ensure environmentally-sound storage and disposal of discarded leaded equipment and other waste contaminated with lead.

To facilitate the ecological management of lead-containing waste, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the city authorities to consult with the Environmental Management Bureau or tap the professional services of EMB-accredited transport, storage and disposal facilities.

The EcoWaste Coalition cited a study by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission showing that lead used in paint on playground equipment may present a serious poisoning hazard for children under six years-old, concluding that the problem arises principally with older paint where it has deteriorated and flaked due to weather conditions, age and usage.



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