Quezon City. An environmental watchdog today asked Brigada Eskwela organizers and volunteers not to use leaded paint and produce leaded waste as public schools get much-needed sprucing up after the elections.
“Lead in paint, dust and soil is a serious health threat to young children and the prevention of this toxic menace should be on top of every Brigada Eskwela operation,” said Jeiel Guarino, Lead Paint Elimination Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Some enamel paints in the market still contain lead, a chemical toxin that impairs mental, cognitive and behavioral development, and should not be used at all in our schools,” Guarino said.
“Unleaded paint should be the only paint of choice for schools and other places frequented by children,” he stressed.
Guarino also pointed out that improper removal of leaded paint in school classrooms and amenities should be disallowed in Brigada Eskwela activities as this will cause the lead to scatter in dust and soil that children may ingest due to their normal hand-to-mouth behavior.
Exposure to lead through ingestion, inhalation and sometimes through skin absorption will cause serious health problems that the World Health Organization WHO has described as being “irreversible” and “untreatable.”
To prevent children’s exposure to lead-containing paint, dust and soil, the EcoWaste Coalition advised Brigada Eskwela organizers and volunteers not to use leaded paint and not to engage in uncontrolled sanding and scraping practices of painted surfaces that may contain lead.
“We further urge this year’s Brigada Eskwela to shun clean up practices that tend to contribute to environmental pollution,” said Tin Vergara, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
For an eco-friendly Brigada Eskwela, the EcoWaste Coalition recommends the following:
1. Separate biodegradable and non-biodegradable discards for reusing, recycling and composting.
2. Say no to open burning or dumping of garbage.
3. Use unleaded paint and observe proper repainting procedures to prevent the spread of leaded dust in the surroundings.
5. Avoid hazardous cleaning agents such as muriatic acid and dichlorobenzene for cleaning toilets.
6. Safely handle and manage busted mercury-containing fluorescent lamps and other “special waste.”
7. Observe “no smoking policy” as embodied by DepEd Order 73-2010, R.A. 9211, the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003 and other related policies.
8. Use reusable or recyclable containers for volunteers’ beverages and foods.
The EcoWaste Coalition is a national network of more than 150 public interest groups pursuing sustainable and just solutions to waste, climate change and chemical issues towards the envisioned Zero Waste 2020 goal.