LGUs Reminded to Use Lead-Safe Paints for School Crosswalks

Local government units (LGUs) refurbishing crosswalks or pedestrian lanes in time for the opening of classes next week have been advised to use lead-safe paints.

In a press statement, the toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition reminded concerned LGUs to choose road marking or traffic paints that conform to the national ban on lead-containing paints and related directives.

“We take this opportunity to remind our LGUs to ensure that only compliant lead-safe paints are used for crosswalks, curbs and speed humps in school zones and in all other areas,” said Manny Calonzo, Adviser, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The use of compliant paints with no lead additives is required by law as this will protect children as well as adults from exposure to lead, a health-damaging chemical,” he pointed out.  

DENR Administrative Order 2013-24 prohibits the use of lead in the manufacture of paints. By virtue of this order, lead-containing decorative and industrial paints were phased out in 2016 and 2019, respectively.

DILG Memorandum Circular 2018-26 entitled “Mandatory Use of Lead-Safe Paints by LGUs” enjoins local authorities to “adopt a lead-safe paint procurement policy to make sure LGUs only purchase and use lead-safe paints for painting jobs paid out of public funds,” among other things.

The EcoWaste Coalition warned that some lead-containing paint products may still be in the market despite the completion of the phase-out period, citing a study it conducted amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A joint report released in 2021 by the EcoWaste Coalition and the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) shows that 21 of the 68 samples of solvent-based industrial paints sold locally had lead greater than the regulatory limit of 90 parts per million (ppm).  Thirteen of which had lead above 10,000 ppm.

Among the analyzed samples with extremely high concentrations of lead were Rhinecote and Ultracote yellow traffic paints with 150,000 ppm and 130,000 ppm lead.

On the other hand, the same study found Boysen, Davies, Macnell and Welcoat traffic paints compliant with the 90 ppm limit, indicating the availability of technology to manufacture such paints without lead additives.

The use of lead-safe road marking or traffic paints will help reduce lead poisoning, noting that lead in dust or soil from routine deterioration or weathering of paints is a common source of childhood lead exposure, the EcoWaste Coalition said.