Quezon City Pre-Schoolers and Parents Push for Lead Paint Elimination for Healthy Bodies and Environment

To mark the continuing celebration of the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action (ILPPWA) and in commemoration of the United Nations Day today, over one hundred school kids dressed in vibrant national costumes of UN member states paraded with their parents and teachers at Barangay Tatalon, Quezon City, to raise public consciousness about lead hazard and gather support for the elimination of lead paints in the market.

The activity, a component of the European Union-assisted Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project, is jointly organized by the EcoWaste Coalition and ROTCHNA Day Care Center and has “Kids and Communities for a Lead Safe Future” for its theme, reflecting the shared aspiration of the participants to protect every child from being exposed to lead, a toxic brain-damaging chemical.

"We are assembled here today to reach out to the community folk and spur caring action to deter childhood lead exposure at home and in school. It is important for parents and teachers to know what causes lead poisoning and how it can be avoided, so that they can proactively defend the kids against varied sources of lead exposure such as through the ingestion and inhalation of lead-contaminated paint chips and dust,” explained Jeiel Guarino, Communications and Policy Officer of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Lead Paint Elimination Project.

After the parade, the group gathered in front of the school to learn more about lead poisoning through instructive and exciting games, followed by the turn-over of the newly-painted ROTCHNA Day Care Center, a collaborative project of the EcoWaste Coalition with the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers (PAPM).

"The paint remediation done on the school’s exteriors, interiors, chairs, tables and cabinets is our voluntary response to the Quezon City government’s drive to make residents cautious about the health effects of exposure to lead, especially among our young children who are vulnerable to such chemical hazard,” said Evelyn Galang, Head Teacher, ROTCHNA Day Care Center.

The Quezon City Council last August 11 adopted a resolution calling for the observance of the annual “Lead Poisoning Prevention Week” to “raise awareness on lead poisoning prevention, particularly from avoidable sources of lead pollution such as lead paints.”

Through the resolution sponsored by Councilor Dorothy Delarmente, the councilors further “recognized the reduction of childhood lead exposure as a fundamental goal in public health.”

“We thank the EcoWaste Coalition for screening our facility for lead paint hazard and the PAPM for providing the labor and lead safe materials for the repainting work. Hopefully, our experience will encourage the local government to recognize possible lead hazards in other school environments and act with urgency to prevent kids from continually being exposed from the dangers of lead,” added Galang.

Last April, the EcoWaste Coalition observed chipping paints on the interior walls of the day care center, which yielded positive for lead upon screening with an x-ray fluorescence (XRF) device. This prompted the group to partner with PAPM for basic lead paint remediation for the day care facility.

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.

In addition, the EcoWaste Coalition shares the following recommendations for parents to minimize childhood exposure from household dust:

- Keep the areas where your children play as dust-free and clean as possible.
- Wash pacifiers and bottles after they fall on the floor, and keep extra ones handy.
- Clean floors, window frames, window sills and other surfaces weekly using wet mops, sponges or paper towels and a general all-purpose cleaner.
- Thoroughly rinse sponges and mop heads after cleaning dirty and dusty areas.
- Wash toys and stuffed animals regularly.
- Make sure your child does not chew on anything covered with lead paint, such as painted window sills or cribs.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “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).”

Furthermore, the WHO’s report on “Childhood Lead Poisoning” states that “these effects are untreatable and irreversible because the human brain has little capacity for repair, causing diminution in brain function and reduction in achievement that last throughout life.”

Organized worldwide by the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, a joint undertaking by the WHO and the United Nations Environmental Programme, the ILPPWA also seeks concrete action and policy support from both national and local governments in the country to minimize, if not eliminate childhood lead exposure.

The EcoWaste Coalition-led campaign is part of a seven-country EU-supported Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project by IPEN, a global civil society network promoting safe chemical policies and practices to protect human health and the environment.