EcoWaste Coalition Pushes School Compliance to Government's Lead-Free Paint Policy

The EcoWaste Coalition, an advocate for a lead-safe  school environment, exhorted the principals, teachers and parents to be vigilant  to ensure lead-free school makeovers during the week-long Brigada Eskwela starting today.

The chemical and waste watch group has partnered with the Sto.Cristo Elementary School in Bago Bantay, Quezon City to drum up awareness and compliance to government directives on lead paint. 

Department of Education Memorandum No. 85, Series of 2016 instructs schools to use lead-free paints in line with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order 2013-24 which sets a phase-out deadline for leaded architectural, decorative and household paints by January 1, 2017. 

To stir up interest and support for a lead-safe school environment, EcoWaste Coalition volunteers joined the parade prior to the cleanup drive donning giant “paint cans marked with the instruction “choose lead-safe paints” and holding mini-classrooms tagged as “lead-free school.”

“We urge Brigada Eskwela participants to opt for water-based over oil-based paint whenever possible.  By and large, water-based paints have not contained lead.  If oil-based paints are required, be sure to look for lead-free brands,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“Lead-free paint is a must for decorating schools and other places frequented by children to curb a major preventable source of childhood lead exposure,” he emphasized.

Dizon clarified that surfaces painted with leaded paint will wear down and break off over time, dispersing chip and dust containing lead, a brain-damaging chemical, that young children can ingest on inhale. 

He also cautioned Brigada Eskwela volunteers from dry sanding or dry scraping painted surfaces that might contain lead as this will spread huge amounts of dust in the surroundings that may be contaminated with lead.

Citing health studies, the EcoWaste Coalition warned that children are most susceptible to lead paint exposure, which can result in lifelong health impacts, including developmental delays, learning disabilities, decreased attention span, hearing, vision and muscle coordination problems, and behavioral issues.

According to the World Health Organization, “there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe,” stressing “lead is now known to produce a spectrum of injury” at chronic and lower levels of exposure, which “for the most part are permanent, irreversible and untreatable by modern medicine.”

For waste-free and toxic-free school renovations, the EcoWaste Coalition requested Briada Eskwela participants to observe the following tips:

1.  Separate discards at source to keep the volume of residual trash to the minimum.  

2.  Do not burn discards; reuse, recycle or compost them.  

3.  Go for reusable or recyclable containers for volunteers’ drinks and foods to reduce trash.

4.  Do not dispose of busted mercury-containing fluorescent lamps in ordinary trash.

5. Use safer cleaning agents and avoid hazardous ones such as muriatic acid, oxalic acid and dichlorobenzene toilet deodorizer.

6.  Apply lead-free paints for school interiors, exteriors, furniture and fixtures.

7. Avoid dry sanding or dry scraping painted surfaces that might contain lead so as not to disperse lead dust into the surroundings.

8.  Keep children and pregnant women out of the work area (lead is very hazardous to unborn children).

9. Thoroughly wash hands with soap and water before meals and after the work is done.

10. After a repainting job, change clothes before going home, set aside in a sealed reusable bag and wash separately.