18 May 2014

Groups Promote Lead Safe Work Practices as Brigada Eskwela Commences

An environmental network and a paint industry association reminded Brigada Eskwela organizers and volunteers to apply lead safe work practices as schools are cleaned, repaired or renovated in time for the school re-opening.

In a joint reminder, the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers, Inc. (PAPM) and the Ecological Waste Coalition of the Philippines, Inc. (EcoWaste Coalition)  said that renovation activities, especially those involving repainting, should be done safely to prevent lead paint chips or dust from spreading out.

Both groups are active participants of an ad hoc alliance of stakeholders in the Philippines seeking to eradicate lead-added decorative paints, which is part of a seven-country Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project supported by the European Union.  

Applying lead safe work practices will be consistent with the instruction given by the Department of Education (DepEd) regarding the implementation of this year’s Brigada Eskwela tasking school principals to “take the lead role in planning activities to promote a safe school environment,” the PAPM and the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The two organizations are in the forefront of the ongoing effort to eliminate lead paint in the country in line with the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) last December 2013.

“The lead dust that may be created as a result of school renovation activities can cause serious health problems for the Brigada Eskwela participants, with the children at highest risk of exposure,” said Henry So, President of PAPM.

“It is therefore important for everyone to observe proper procedures in renovation activities to prevent and reduce lead-based paint hazards,” he emphasized.

“Disturbing a surface previously coated with lead paint by dry sanding or scraping will produce huge amounts of lead-containing dust particles and should be avoided,” he added.

For her part, Aileen Lucero, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, warned that “children may ingest the lead paint chip or dust through normal hand-to-mouth activities as they move, eat and play around the classroom, hallway or school ground.”

“Ingesting or breathing into lead dust has the potential of permanently damaging a child’s developing brain and nervous system, causing learning disabilities and decreased intelligence as measured by IQ scores,” she said, stressing that health authorities have identified “no safe blood lead levels for children.”

Childhood lead exposure is estimated to contribute to about 600,000 new cases of children with intellectual disabilities every year, according to the World Health Organization, which has listed lead as one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern.”

Towards a lead safe Brigada Eskwela, the EcoWaste Coalition and the PAPM have recommended the following basic precautionary steps:

1.  Use lead safe paint for school interiors, exteriors, furniture and fixtures.

2.  Keep children and pregnant women out of the work area (lead is very hazardous to unborn children).

3.  Do not disturb lead painted surfaces in good condition.

4.  Cover cracked or deteriorated surfaces with lead safe paint. Do not dry sand or dry scrape painted surfaces.

5.  Wet sand or wet scrape if desired or needed.  Use a spray bottle or wet sponge to keep the surface damp and the airborne dust levels low.

6.  Do not eat, drink or smoke in the work area.

7.  Work clean: create little dust as possible, clean up thoroughly and dispose of paint waste properly.

8. Thoroughly wash hands with soap and water after any repainting work.

9. After a repainting job, change clothes before going home, set aside in a sealed reusable bag and wash separately.

-end-

For a more comprehensive information about lead safe work practices, please refer to any of the following resources:

http://www2.epa.gov/lead/lead-safe-certified-guide-renovate-right-2
http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/healthy_homes/lbp/hudguidelines

No comments: