Global Phase Out of Lead-Containing Paints Gains Ground in PH

A  public interest  group promoting chemical safety and zero waste has  lauded parallel moves at the global and local levels to eliminate lead-containing paint, a preventable source of childhood lead exposure.

On the eve of the  International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action on October 25 to 31, the EcoWaste Coalition recalled the recent decision by the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM)
affirming the global consensus to eliminate lead paint by 2020. ICCM is the implementing body of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

“While banned and eliminated from paint in most high income
 countries like US decades ago,  paints containing huge amounts of lead continue to be widely sold in many developing countries, including the Philippines”  said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Fortunately, our country,
 through a fruitful collaboration involving the government, the paint industry and the civil society,  has adopted a regulatory framework that will eventually phase out lead in paint in tune with the global consensus to  get rid of such paints,” she said.     

A groundbreaking Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds , or CCO, issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
 in December 2013 puts a threshold limit for lead in paint at 90 parts per million (ppm).  It further establishes a phase-out deadline for leaded decorative paints by 2016 and leaded decorative paints by 2019.

The said policy also bans the use of lead in the production of toys, school supplies, cosmetics, water pipes and food and beverage packaging, and reiterates the ban on lead in fuel additives under the Clean Air Act.

Lucero duly noted the strategic role being played by the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers (PAPM) to promote awareness and compliance to the CCO among its members.

“Our partnership with the PAPM and its members is one for the books and we hope this constructive relationship to grow as we seek and monitor full industrial compliance to the phase-out targets,” she said.

To date, paint companies with majority market share have completed their transition to non-lead paint production, while other companies pursue their switch in line with the CCO. 

  also reach out to companies outside the paint industry association to ensure a level playing field where all paint companies stick to the rules,” she said. 

“We’ll also definitely keep an eye on foreign paint imports to make sure these products conform with the lead paint regulation,” she added.

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers lead as one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern,” warning that
“there is no safe level of exposure to lead.”

Children are most likely to be exposed to lead from ingestion of flakes and dust from decaying lead-based paint, according to WHO, affecting children's brain development and their measurable level of intelligence (IQ).

Childhood lead exposure is estimated to contribute to 600, 000 new cases of children with intellectual disabilities every year, the WHO said.