PH policy banning lead paints recognized globally

Published July 24, 2021, 7:00 AM

by Atty. Vic Dimagiba

A Chemical Control Order (CC0) banning lead, a toxic substance, in paints promulgated by the government through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has been crowned one of the five winners for this year’s Future Policy Award (FPA), which is also known as the “Oscar on best policies.“

Given by the Germany-based World Future Council (WFC), this year’s FPA puts the spot light on the most effective policy solutions that minimize the adverse effects of harmful chemicals on human health and the environment. 

“Every day, our rights are violated by the exposure to toxic chemicals and pollution. Especially children are disproportionally affected,” said Alexandra Wandel, Executive Director, WFC. “For the sake of current and future generations, it is absolutely critical that stakeholders make the protection from hazardous chemicals a priority. The Philippines and the other winning policies show the way forward and are an inspiration for policymakers worldwide.”

Issued in 2013, the CCO for Lead and Lead Compounds bans lead in the production of paints and sets a total lead content limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) on all paints.  By 2016, lead-containing paints used for decorative purposes have been phased out, and by 2019 lead-containing paints used for industrial applications were similarly phased out.  As noted by the WFC, “the Philippines was the first Southeast Asian country to successfully implement legislation mandating lead-safe paint.”

“By 2020, the local paint and coating industry, with strong encouragement from the government and civil society, had beaten the phase-out deadline for lead paints as stipulated by the CCO, with a total of 1,395 paint products certified through the new Lead Safe Paint® Certification program, which certifies that a certain paint’s lead content is below 90 ppm,” the WFC said.

“While only a few countries globally enacted comprehensive bans on the use of lead additives in all paints, the Philippines demonstrated that it is entirely possible to restrict the use of lead in all paints, including industrial paints, which generally have lead concentrations that are up to 10 times higher,” it noted.

The extensive cooperative efforts of major stakeholders, especially from the government, industry and civil society, during the policy formulation and implementation also inspired this element of the UNEP’s Model Law and Guidance for Regulating Lead Paint.

Reacting to the WFC’s recognition, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said: “This will inspire us to further strengthen the implementation of our chemical control policy and to develop other policies to protect human health and the environment.” In his acceptance speech, he also acknowledged partners from the public and private sectors, including the EcoWaste Coalition and the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers (PAPM), for their involvement in the crafting and enforcement of the CCO.

 “We appreciate the vigilance of non-government organizations like the EcoWaste Coalition in the lead phase-out campaign.  We also commend the PAPM for their support in making our CCO implementable,” he said.

From the civil society, Manny Calonzo, former president of the EcoWaste Coalition, said: “This global recognition affirms the importance of adopting a lead paint law with the most protective lead content limit and crafted through an open and participatory process.  Stakeholders’ participation is key to catalyzing an industry-wide switch to the production of all paint types without added lead and to the eventual elimination of lead paint, a major source of lead exposure in children.”
“The award highlights the need for countries to enact and enforce strong laws banning lead in all paints to safeguard children’s health,” said Sara Brosche of the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), which has advised and supported the EcoWaste Coalition in its campaign to ban lead paints since 2010.   
For his part, industry leader Derrick Tan, president of the PAPM, said: “The country’s paint makers have ably demonstrated their capacity to replace lead additives from all brands and products in compliance to the CCO and in pursuit of their corporate social responsibility.  It only shows that eliminating lead paint in all categories is an attainable goal.  Some manufacturers have even voluntarily secured third-party Lead Safe Paint® certification to prove conformance with the strictest 90 ppm limit for lead content in paint.”
A case study prepared with inputs from DENR, PAPM, EcoWaste Coalition and IPEN has identified several factors that contributed to the successful promulgation of the CCO, including “data on lead in solvent-based paints generated by the civil society that provided evidence of a pressing problem requiring immediate and collective action, multi-faceted efforts to raise awareness about the issue, industry-wide shift that created the impetus for all companies to transition to lead-safe paint formulations, and the government’s commitment to a multi-stakeholders’ approach.” 

Kudos to the DENR, PAPM, EcoWaste Coalition, IPEN and to the Filipino nation for this shared accomplishment that will protect the health of our children and workers against lead exposure.

Ecowaste Coalition and Laban Konsyumer Inc. are partners in upholding consumer rights and welfare, especially on product safety standards and labeling for toys, school supplies and other children’s commodities.


1.  FPA 2021 Brochure:

2.  Acceptance Speech of DENR Sec. Roy Cimatu: 

3.  Case study on Philippine lead paint regulations (powerpoint presentation):

Atty. Vic Dimagiba is President  of Laban Konsyumer Inc.

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