The Philippines' historic achievement in the phase out of paints containing lead additives has been highlighted in the observance of this year’s International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (ILPPW).
The ILPPW from Oct. 25 to 31 is an initiative of the United Nations-backed Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint with this year’s focus on the need to accelerate progress towards the global phase out of lead paint through regulatory and legal measures.
"The local paint and coating industry, with strong encouragement from the government and the civil society, had beaten the phase-out deadline for lead paints as stipulated in the country’s lead paint regulation. This achievement will hugely help in preventing children’s and workers’ exposure to lead from paints," said Thony Dizon, chemical safety campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition.
Under Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, lead in architectural, decorative, and household paints was phased out on Jan. 1, 2017, while lead in industrial paints was phased out on January 1, 2020.
The promulgation of the order had triggered an industry-wide removal of lead-based raw materials in paint production, which are previously used as pigment, drying accelerator or as corrosion protector, and their replacement with sound alternatives.
"The paint and coating industry has acquired competitive advantage by reformulating whole product lines to get rid of lead inputs in paint formulations. Some companies have even gone one step further by successfully obtaining third-party Lead Safe Paint® certification to assure consumers that their products do not pose lead-based paint hazards," said Derrick Tan, president of the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers.
According to Dr. Gelo Apostol, assistant professor at the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health, "phasing out lead paints and addressing all other sources of lead poisoning in the environment are absolutely needed to protect Filipino children from the adverse health and economics impacts of lead exposure such as reduced learning abilities, poor school performance, behavioral problems. and decreased productivity."
He noted that "there is no acceptable blood level for lead."
As there is no level of exposure to lead that is without harmful effect, EcoWaste urged the government, industry, and civil society to sustain meaningful multi-stakeholders collaboration to build a lead-safe environment for all children, including babies in the womb.
"Just because our nation has phased out lead paints does not mean we can rest on our laurels," the group pointed out.
"There is still so much to be done to ensure that our children are protected against preventable sources of lead exposure that can irreparably affect their health and future," it added.