Archdiocese of Manila Urged to Go for Lead-Free Paints

A waste and toxic watchdog group today asked
Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle to require the use of lead-free paints for
church-related construction and renovation projects in the Archdiocese of
Through a letter sent today, the EcoWaste Coalition requested the Archbishop of
Manila to adopt a “Lead-Safe Paint Procurement Policy” to protect young
children, as well as women of child-bearing age and workers, against the
harmful effects of being exposed to lead – one of the “ten chemicals of
major public health concern” identified by the World Health Organization
According to the WHO, “lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple
body systems and is particularly harmful to young children… estimated to
contribute to about 600,000 new cases of children developing intellectual
disabilities every year” worldwide.
“There is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe,” the WHO

“Recognizing your authentic concern for the health
and well-being of your flock, we highly encourage you to set a clear guidance
to the church engineering and purchasing departments that only certified lead
safe paints will be purchased or used for all approved construction and
renovation projects,” wrote Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Adopting such a policy will send a concrete
message that the church leadership is taking concrete action to proactively
prevent lead exposure among its employees, contractors and the general public,”
she said. 

The group made the recommendation following Tagle’s
issuance of Circular No. 2016-05 outlining new procedures for the construction
and renovation of structures and institutions owned or affiliated with the
Archdiocese of Manila.
The said directive is applicable to construction
and renovation projects in parishes, chapels, diocesan schools, dormitories,
formation and retreat centers, cemeteries and other properties of the archdiocese.
“Our drive to encourage major paint consumers such as churches and schools
complements our effort to secure industrial compliance to the government
regulation phasing out leaded architectural, decorative and household paints by
January 1, 2017 and leaded industrial paints by 1 January 2020,” Lucero said.
The  phase-out deadlines for leaded paints are provided for under the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order
2013-24 (also known as the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds).
The EcoWaste Coalition cited the closure of two diocesan schools in the
Archdiocese of Chicago, USA due to high lead levels in the school premises to
justify its push for a lead-free environment in the country’s educational
Citing reports from Chicago Tribune, the group recalled the closure of St.
Elizabeth School in 2015 and the Holy Angels Catholic School in 2016 due to
lead in paint and dust, which are major sources of childhood lead poisoning.

Using only lead safe paints in church projects will also make the maintenance,
repair and redecoration of painted surfaces simpler and less hazardous,
minimize the dispersal of lead-contaminated dust, and avoid the costs
associated with lead paint abatement, the group stated. 
The group insisted that implementing a lead-safe paint procurement policy is
“totally doable” because of the market availability of paints with no lead
The group noted that major paint manufacturers have already stopped using lead
as raw material for their products, while other paint companies are
transitioning to non-lead substitutes for their oil-based products.  
Water-based paints generally do not contain lead and are widely obtainable in
the market, the group said.