Leaded Spray Paints Sold at Stores Selling School Supplies

A toxics watchdog group has uncovered the sale of more paint products containing lead, a chemical banned in paint manufacturing, not in hardware stores but in stores that sell school supplies.

In a statement, the EcoWaste Coalition revealed that it has recently purchased four variants of Colorz Aerosol Spray Paint sold for P100 to P180 per 400 ml-can at school supply stores in Guadalupe, Makati City and Sampaloc, Manila City.

“We chanced upon cans of Colorz Aerosol Spray Paint during our latest back-to-school market investigation. The availability of these paints in stores selling school supplies suggests that such paints are used as a material for educational projects or to touch up bicycles and toys.  This is very concerning so we bought a few colors and had them screened for lead content,” said Manny Calonzo, Adviser, EcoWaste Coalition.

With the aid of an Olympus M Vanta Series X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer, the group detected lead above the maximum limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) as per DENR-issued Chemical Control Order (CCO) regulating lead and its compounds.

A fresh green Colorz Aerosol Spray Paint was found to contain 29,030 ppm lead, while the orange yellow, canary yellow and orange red variants had 21,410 ppm, 14,070 ppm and 3,106 ppm, respectively.

“This is not the first time we detected lead above the regulatory limit on this particular product imported from Thailand,” said Calonzo.

In the report “Lead in Spray Paints for Consumer Use in the Philippines” published in July 2020 by the EcoWaste Coalition and the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), three variants of Colorz Aerosol Spray were among those found contaminated with lead in violation of the CCO.

As stated in the report, a lemon yellow, silver light green and flash red variants of Colorz Aerosol Spray Paint had 13,200 ppm, 3,000 ppm and 665 ppm lead, respectively.

These three variants of Colorz Aerosol Spray Paint are among the 37 lead-containing spray paint products whose distribution and sale were stopped by the government through FDA Advisory 2020-1585 issued in August 2020.

“All concerned establishments are sternly warned and hereby directed to stop the distribution and sale of (the listed 37) products that pose unwarranted risks to health,” the advisory stated.

To rid the local market of lead-containing paints, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to retailers to demand a certificate of analysis from manufacturers, importers and distributors attesting to a product’s compliance to the 90 ppm total lead content limit.

“Before putting paint products on store shelves or online shopping platforms, please ensure that they have been tested and confirmed compliant to the 90 ppm rule,” the group suggested.

“Better still, we urge manufacturers to secure third-party Lead Safe Paint® certification to guide consumers in making an informed choice when purchasing paints," the group concluded.   

Lead is a toxic metal, which is especially hazardous to brain development in young children and babies still growing in the womb. Lead paint poses a hazard for those who come in contact with it during manufacture, use, removal and disposal.