Cebu School Gathering Raises Awareness on Lead Paint Hazards, Promotes Lead Safe School Environment

11 June 2014, Marigondon, Lapu-Lapu City. Visiting
environmentalists from 10 countries today joined some three hundred vibrant
students in unfurling a huge banner stating “Lead Free Kids for a Healthy Future”
during a visit to a local school to raise awareness about childhood lead
exposure and promote a lead safe school environment.

The joint activity,
co-organized by Marigondon Elementary School, EcoWaste Coalition and IPEN (a
global civil society network for a toxics-free future), was held in the midst
of the five-day Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project Workshop in Cebu, which
started on June 9, with participation from 30 individuals from Bangladesh,
Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Czech Republic,
Sweden and the U.S.

The group also joined the students in a symbolic palm printing using lead safe
paints to express their unity with the nation’s goal of protecting all kids
against childhood lead exposure.
Jeiel Guarino, Policy and Communications Officer of the EcoWaste
Coalition’s Lead Paint Elimination Project, explained that “we are here to
increase awareness among students and teachers alike about childhood lead
exposure and encourage precautionary action to prevent such environmental
exposure,” emphasizing that childhood lead poisoning can be avoided by using
lead safe paints. EcoWaste Coalition is one of seven countries participating in
the European Union-funded Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project.
“Aside from lead paints,
lead-contaminated dust and soil, as well as lead-containing children’s products
such as toys and school supplies, cause a serious health risk to young children
that can cause detrimental lifelong effects,” Guarino added.
School Principal Reynold Velos
concurred that “the event has motivated us to pay close attention to ensuring
that our school environment does not pose lead hazard to our pupils, teachers
and non-academic staff.”
“Because we care for our
children’s health and future, all lead exposures should be avoided,” Velos
steadfastly added, noting that Marigondon Elementary School is a child-friendly
In children, the most common route of lead exposure is through
lead-contaminated dust and soil that gets onto their hands, which in turn gets
into their mouth by way of their common hand-to-mouth habits.
The IPEN booklet entitled “Eliminate Lead Paint: Protect Children’s Health,”
explains that
“once lead enters a child’s body through ingestion or inhalation or across the
placenta, it has the potential to damage a number of biological systems and

“The primary target is the central nervous system and the brain, but it can
also affect the blood system, the kidneys and the skeleton,” it further said.
Visiting scientist Dr. Sara
Brosché, Manager of the European Union-funded Asian Lead Paint E limination
Project, reminded that “there is no known acceptable lead exposure level for
children that is considered safe.”
Dr. Brosche commended the
Philippines for adopting a ground-breaking policy regulating lead in paint and
for setting a clear phase-out target for leaded paints, stressing that “its
effective enforcement will translate to a lead safe environment for all
December 2013, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary
Ramon Paje signed a chemical control order (CCO) for lead and lead compounds
that establishes a threshold limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) for lead in
paints, and sets a phase-out period of three years for leaded architectural,
decorative and household paints, and six years for leaded industrial paints,
including automotive and aviation paints.
The Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project is a three-year project
coordinated by IPEN being carried out in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal,
Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Philippines.