04 June 2014

Manila City Government Urged to Give Basketball Courts and Playgrounds Lead Safe Makeovers

A watchdog group promoting a healthy and safe environment for children and youth urged the Manila City Government to refurbish the city’s  basketball courts and playgrounds with lead safe paints and adhering to proper lead paint abatement procedures.

In a letter delivered today to the offices of Mayor Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada and Vice-Mayor  Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, the EcoWaste Coalition alerted the city’s top executives about the high levels of lead detected in 10 basketball courts and playgrounds across the city.

Equipped with a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, the EcoWaste Coalition’s team on May 26 and 30 screened the paint coatings on basketball court flooring and playground equipment for lead, a highly toxic, health-damaging chemical.

Among the places visited and screened with XRF were the the Paraiso ng Batang Maynila (Quirino Ave.), Dakota Playground Basketball Court, Paraiso ng Batang Maynila (Pedro Gil St.), Plaza del Azul Playground (Quirino Ave.), Pandacan Linear Park,  Andalucia Basketball Court (Aragon St. cor. Lacson Ave.), RASAC Covered  Court (Alvarez St. cor. Rizal Ave.), Plaza del Carmen Playground (across San Sebastian Church), Delpan Sports Complex Basketball Court (outdoor) and Barangay 283 Basketball Court (San Nicolas near Pasig River).

Based on the XRF screening results, the playground equipment had lead up to 206,000 ppm, the  basketball court flooring had lead up to over 100,000 ppm and the basketball post had lead up to 95,900  ppm.

“Aside from the high lead content, we saw that all of the basketball courts and playgrounds we visited in the City of Manila have seen better days with the lead paint coated flooring and equipment chipping and flaking off, posing chemical hazard, “ said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“And many of the playground equipment are partially, if not totally, wrecked, posing physical hazard,” she added.

In their letter to Mayor Estrada and Vice-Mayor Moreno, the group noted that “lead exposure is particularly harmful to young children and that even low levels of exposure can interfere with the developing brain and cause lifelong impacts to a child’s health and development, including lower  intelligence, decrease school performance, attention deficiencies, poor impulse control and aggressive behaviour.”  

To improve the chemical and physical safety conditions of Manila’s basketball courts and playgrounds, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the city government to:

1.  Adopt a LEAD SAFE PROCUREMENT POLICY that will disallow the use of lead paint in government buildings, schools, day care centers, hospitals, clinics, basketball courts, playgrounds and other facilities frequented by children.

2.  Refurbish the city’s basketball courts and playgrounds using LEAD SAFE PAINTS and following proper LEAD PAINT ABATEMENT PROCEDURES to avoid further dispersal of lead dust into the surroundings.

3.  Replace highly-leaded and damaged playground equipment with certified LEAD SAFE PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT.

“We further encourage the City Government of Manila to consult with concerned professionals to ensure that the refurbished basketball courts and playgrounds pass design, safety, quality, and aesthetics checks, and comply with basic international safety norms and standards,” Lucero also said.

Last December 2013, through the combined efforts of the government, industry and civil society, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) promulgated a Chemical Control Order on Lead and Lead Compounds  (DENR A.O. 2013-24), which among other measures, establishes a threshold limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) for total lead in paint and targets 2016 as the phaseout date for leaded architectural, decorative and household paints and 2019 for leaded industrial paints. 

The 90 ppm total lead limit is also the standard used for lead in paints and surface coatings under the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

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