12 June 2014, Cebu City/Quezon City. Various sectors of the society commended the Cebu City Council for unanimously approving a resolution in its session yesterday urging the city government to adopt a lead safe procurement policy.
Through the resolution sponsored by Councilor Nida Cabrera, the City Council requested Mayor Michael L. Rama “to issue an appropriate directive to specify ‘lead safe paint’, or paint that does not contain lead above the regulatory limit of 90 parts per million (ppm)” in paint purchase orders.
The councilors explicitly cited the need to use lead safe paints “as a requirement for the procurement of paints to be used in the city government-funded projects, especially for applications likely to contribute to childhood lead exposure such as paints used in coating interiors, exteriors, furniture and fixtures in all government buildings, schools, day care centers, parks, playgrounds, hospitals and other healthcare facilities.”
In the resolution, the councilors “recognize that children who are exposed to lead are likely to suffer lifelong impacts that are generally irreversible, including mental retardation, decreased intelligence, poorer school performance, aggressive behavior, and reduced workforce productivity.”
The councilors further stated that the City Council “is one with the national government and the international community in protecting children and other vulnerable groups such as women and workers from being exposed and harmed by lead such as through lead paint, dust and soil.”
The action by the City Council immediately drew positive comments from various civic leaders and professionals.
University of Cebu law professor and environmentalist Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos said the adoption of the resolution “is a vital step in the right direction that will protect the public from avoidable sources of lead poisoning, as well as save public funds from costly remediation procedures for lead contaminated buildings.”
Medical doctor Jose Antonio Siwa Quitevis of the Philippine Pediatric Society Central Visayas Chapter and Vice-President of the Philippine Society of Pediatric Hematology commented that “the policy, if carried out, will help in preventing fetal and childhood exposure to lead, a toxin that is most injurious to the developing brain.”
Jimson C. Ong, President of the Philippine Institute of Architects (PIA) Cebu Section, thought that “the resolution will not only guide the Architects on what paints to specify but will further create a lead-safe consciousness among designers and building contractors, thus, creating a lead-safe environment as a whole.”
From Metro Manila, Aileen Lucero, Coordinator of the Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition congratulated the Cebu City Council for “its collective stance to promote a lead safe environment that other local governments should take notice of and follow.”
The councilors cited the “Asian Regional Paint Report” published with support from the European Union indicating that “76% of the 803 paint samples analyzed in seven countries, including 122 from the Philippines, contained lead at concentrations exceeding 90 ppm and many contained dangerously high lead levels above 10,000 ppm.”
The councilors duly noted that many local paint manufacturers have stopped using lead for enamel decorative paints or are in the process of transitioning to non-lead paint production, adding that a broad array of lead safe paints is commercially available at competitive prices.
On December 23, 2013, Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje signed DENR Administrative Order 2013-24, which establishes a threshold limit for total lead in paints of 90 ppm, and sets a phase out period of three years (2013-2016) for architectural, decorative, household applications and six (6) years (2013-201 9) for industrial applications.
The CCO strictly prohibits the use of lead and lead compounds in the manufacturing of packaging for food and drink, fuel additives, water pipes, toys, school supplies and cosmetics, and imposes restrictions towards eliminating lead paints.