11 July 2018, Quezon City. As the P2.5 billion “Green, Green, Green” program of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) goes in full swing, a non-profit environmental health organization urged the agency to ensure that funded projects only use paints with no added lead, a toxic chemical.
Through a letter sent today to DBM Secretary Benjamin Diokno and Assistance to Cities Program Manager Julia Nebrija, the EcoWaste Coalition welcomed the “Green, Green, Green” program to make the country’s 145 cities “more livable, sustainable, and well connected through the development or enhancement of public open spaces.”
According to the group, the “Green, Green, Green” program fits well with UN’s Sustainable Development Goals on “Sustainable Cities and Communities,” and corresponds to one of the goal targets, namely, “by 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities.”
“As some of the projects being proposed for funding under this program may include painting or repainting jobs, we strongly suggest that the mandatory procurement and use of lead-safe paints as verified through third-party certification be included in the evaluation and approval of project proposals received from applicant cities,” said Eileen Sison, President, EcoWaste Coalition.
“The use of lead-safe paints should be duly included by the DBM in the criteria for truly ‘green’ open space development or enhancement projects by our cities,” she added.
Specifying the compulsory procurement and use of certified lead-safe paints will ensure that only paints with no added lead will be used to decorate fences and gates, playground equipment, tables, chairs and benches, recreational facilities, signages, structures, etc., particularly in parks and plazas where children often go for rest and leisure, the group said.
The group noted that such a requirement will be in sync with DENR A.O. 2013-24 phasing out lead-added paints used for architectural, household and decorative applications on 31 December 2016.
It will also be in line with DILG Memorandum Circular 2018-26 enjoining local government units (LGUs) to “support the phase-out of lead-containing paints and eventually reduce the hazards and risks posed by such paints to human health.”
The said directive by DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año urged 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.”
According to the UN-backed Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint (which counts on the DENR, the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers and the EcoWaste Coalition among its members), “paint containing lead additives poses risks to health from poisoning and environmental contamination.”
“Lead can have permanent health effects on children, but also creates harm in adults. Childhood lead poisoning, also during pregnancy, can have lifelong health impacts including: learning disabilities, anemia and disorders in coordination, visual, spatial and language skills. There is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe for adults or children,” the alliance said.