24 December 2013

EcoWaste Coalition Hails Lead Control Policy as Best Christmas Gift to Filipino Kids

A new chemical regulation will prevent and reduce childhood exposure to lead in paint and other pollution sources, environmentalists said today.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network of over 150 groups promoting zero waste, chemical safety and climate justice, lauded the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for promulgating a Chemical Control Order (CCO) regulating lead, a cumulative neurotoxin with no safe level of exposure that is exceptionally harmful to young children.

Lead poisoning, described by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a "scourge to human health for millennia," is known to cause neurological, reproductive, developmental and behavioral problems that
according to WHO are "irreversible and untreatable by modern medicine."

The DENR Secretary signed the CCO yesterday, December 23, which will take effect one month after publication in the Official Gazette or two newspapers of general circulation.

Among its salient provisions that drew cheers from environmental and children health advocates is the prohibition of lead in paint above 90 parts per million (ppm), the current US standard for lead in decorative paints.

Aside from setting a maximum permissible lead content in paint, the CCO prescribes a phase out period of three years for leaded architectural or decorative paints and six years for leaded industrial paints, including automotive and aviation paints.

According to the UN-established Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint (GAELP) which includes the EcoWaste Coalition as member, "children can be severely affected by eating lead-based paint chips, chewing on objects, including toys painted with lead-based paint, or from exposure to dust or soil that contains lead from paint."

"We laud Secretary Paje for heeding our long-standing appeal for regulatory action to eliminate lead in paint and halt a major source of lead exposure among children," said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.

"Finally, we have a legal framework that is sure to energize the ongoing switch to non-lead paint manufacturing that is broadly backed by the government, industry and civil society, including professional health sector," she added.

"This is a splendid Christmas gift to our children whose exposure to lead even at low doses can result in reduced intelligence and even in reduced economic productivity later in life," she stated.

The work to craft a CCO on lead commenced way back in 2007, but did not move forward until the EcoWaste Coalition in 2011 drew the attention of consumers, policy makers and  industry leaders to the issue through its successive studies on lead in paints and consumer products in the market.

Responding to the demand for regulatory policy, the Environmental Management Bureau organized a series of stakeholders' meetings in 2011 and 2012 that eventually led to the completion of the CCO drafting process this year.

Last October, the EcoWaste Coalition initiated a series of activities in support to the first ever International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action, including the release of a EU-funded study that detected lead above 90 ppm in 75 out of 122 paint samples analyzed at a private laboratory in Italy.

The EcoWaste Coalition implements the IPEN Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project in the country, which is funded out of a PHP80 million EU grant for the seven-country project, including Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Philippines.


Additional Information:

IPEN’s Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project is a project of IPEN, an international NGO working to minimize and, whenever possible, eliminate hazardous toxic chemicals. IPEN’s lead elimination projects are working to eliminate lead in paint worldwide and raise widespread awareness among business entrepreneurs and consumers about the adverse human health impacts of lead-based decorative paints, particularly on the health of children under six years old. The seven Asian countries participating in the project include Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The project includes periodical testing of lead in paints; information to small and medium paint manufacturers, distributors and retailers to help them shift from lead-based to no-added lead paint formulations; third party certification and labelling that includes information on lead; consultation with key government institutions to enact a globally-accepted standard for lead in paints; preparation and dissemination of information, education and communication(IEC) materials, as well as awareness-raising activities about lead paint and its subsequent effects on children, public health, and the environment.

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