EcoWaste Coalition Blasts Unabated Sale of Banned Leaded Spray Paints

The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition has assailed the unremitting sale of spray paints with added lead, a chemical banned in the manufacture of paints and similar surface coatings.

“The unlawful sale of lead-containing spray paints continues unabated despite the issuance of a government advisory more than a year ago that ‘sternly warned’ establishments from distributing and selling such dangerous products,” observed Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.  

Through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Advisory No. 2020-1585, the government warned against the marketing, purchase and use of 37 spray paint products that were found to contain lead in excess of the maximum total lead content limit of 90 parts per million (ppm).

“All concerned establishments are sternly warned and hereby directed to stop the distribution and sale of aforementioned products that pose unwarranted risks to health,” said the advisory, which was signed on August 26, 2020 and posted on the FDA website on September 4, 2020.

In test buys conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition last Thursday, the group procured 10 lead-containing spray paints costing P100 to P150 each from stores selling motorcycle supplies and general merchandise in Manila and Pasay Cities.

Based on the chemical screening conducted by the group using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, all the 10 spray paints were laden with lead above the regulatory limit of 90 ppm and are therefore illegal to import, distribute and sell in the local market.

“Worst, eight of the paint samples contained dangerous concentrations of lead above 10,000 ppm with one product containing a shockingly excessive 70,900 ppm of lead,” said Dizon.  Below is the list of the analyzed spray paints and their corresponding lead content:
  1. Standard Aerosol Spray Paint (medium yellow), 70,900 ppm
  2. Koby Spray Paint (canary yellow), 42,800 ppm
  3. Koby Spray Paint (fresh green), 36,600 ppm
  4. King Sfon Spray Paint (orange red), 33,100 ppm
  5. Standard Aerosol Spray Paint (orange red), 31,300 ppm
  6. Standard Aerosol Spray Paint (orange yellow), 22,400 ppm
  7. Koby Spray Paint (Mars red), 14,300 ppm
  8. Koby Spray Paint (deep yellow), 13,900 ppm
  9. Koby Spray Paint (Suzuki red), 7,496ppm
  10. King Sfon Spray Paint (Honda red), 1,116 ppm
Koby (canary yellow, fresh green and Suzuki red) and Standard (orange yellow) are included in the FDA list of banned spray paints as of 2020.    

The analyzed spray paints are marketed as “multi-purpose” that can be applied on a broad  range of materials, including children’s toys, the EcoWaste Coalition noted. 

“The Koby Spray Paint, in particular, shows six graphic symbols of a toy, bicycle, chair, table, refrigerator and helmet on the label, indicating the wide-ranging uses of the product,” Dizon pointed out.

DENR A.O. 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, prohibits lead in the production of all types of paint.  A clarificatory Memorandum Circular issued by the Environmental Management Bureau affirms the ban on lead-containing paints in the manufacture of toys and other children’s products after December 31, 2016.

As stated in FDA Advisory No. 2020-1585, “lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children who can suffer profound and permanent adverse health effects, particularly affecting the development of the brain and nervous system.”

According to the World Health Organization, “lead also causes long-term harm in adults, including increased risk of high blood pressure and kidney damage. Exposure of pregnant women to high levels of lead can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight.

To put a stop to the illicit sale of lead-containing spray paints, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to the authorities to strengthen compliance monitoring activities and to go after errant manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers .