EcoWaste Coalition Cites QC School for Lead Safe Makeover

A progressive preschool for fun and hands-on learning was duly recognized by a toxics watchdog for its effort to protect kids as well as their teachers from lead exposure.

OLL Child Development Center (OLL CDC) at D. Tuazon St., Sta. Mesa Heights in Quezon City last Thursday, June 5, the World Environment Day, received a “Certificate of Recognition” from the EcoWaste Coalition for undertaking a lead safe school renovation.

OLL CDC was cited for using lead safe paints to encapsulate lead paint and for taking concrete measures to minimize the dispersal of lead paint chips and dust as the school underwent makeover during the summer break.

The makeover was in response to the screening conducted by the group in April 2014 using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, which detected high levels of lead, particularly on painted furniture and fixture and play equipment.

“We quickly took the decision to recoat the leaded objects with lead safe paints in line with our goal of providing our preschoolers with a safe, child-friendly environment.  It is our responsibility to walk the talk,” said OLL CDC Director Ana Maria R. Nemenzo.

“We received helpful advice from the EcoWaste Coalition on how to go about the makeover, especially on not dry sanding leaded surfaces to avoid creating lead dust that can put our pupils and their teachers at risk of lead exposure,” she added.

“We even opted to cancel our summer classes to ensure that kids are protected from potential exposure during the repainting job,” she stated.

OLL CDC spent a total of P57,000 for the purchase of lead safe Boysen and Davies paints and the labor cost for 4 workers. The repainting job covered all the walls, window frames, cabinets, shelves, blackboards, tables, chairs and wooden toys inside the classrooms (with a total floor area of 150 square meters), and  all outdoor equipment in the 200 square meter playground.

“We commend OLL CDC for wasting no time to control the identified lead hazard.  Lead is most dangerous for children under the age of 6 who tend to explore their surroundings a lot and who habitually put their hands, toys and other things, which may contain  toxic lead dust, into their mouths,” stated Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

OLL CDC caters to children from 2 ½ to 6 years old.

“Parents can breathe a sigh of relief now that the lead coated surfaces are safely contained,” she added.

“We hope that OLL CDC’s experience will inspire others to identify lead hazards in the school environment and act with urgency to stop kids from being harmed,” she said.

To further ensure children’s safety from hazardous lead paint chips and dust, the EcoWaste Coalition advised the school to keep all coatings in excellent shape, frequently wipe off dust, regularly wet

mop the floors, and ensure that kids always wash their hands after play and before meals.

As the exterior soil is a probable source of lead exposure, the group also advised the school to prevent children from playing in bare soil that may be tainted with lead.

As part of its ongoing Lead Paint Elimination Project assisted by the European Union, the EcoWaste Coalition is campaigning for a “lead safe home and school environment for bright and healthy kids.”

According to the World Health Organization: “Lead poisoning is a serious child health concern throughout the world.  Children are most likely to be exposed to lead from ingestion of flakes and dust from decaying lead-based paint.  This affects children's brain development and their measurable level of intelligence (IQ).