Global Phase Out of Lead-Containing Paints Gains Ground in PH

A  public
interest  group promoting chemical safety
and zero waste has  lauded parallel moves
at the global and local levels to eliminate lead-containing paint, a
preventable source of childhood lead exposure.

On the eve of the  International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week
of Action on October 25 to 31, the EcoWaste Coalition recalled the recent decision
by the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) affirming the global consensus to
eliminate lead paint by 2020. ICCM is the implementing body of the Strategic
Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) coordinated by the
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

“While banned and eliminated from paint in most high income  countries like US decades ago,  paints containing huge amounts of lead continue
to be widely sold in many developing countries, including the Philippines”  said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste

“Fortunately, our country,  through a fruitful
collaboration involving the government, the paint industry and the civil
society,  has adopted a regulatory framework
that will eventually phase out lead in paint in tune with the global consensus
to  get rid of such paints,” she said.     

A groundbreaking Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds , or CCO,
issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources  in December 2013 puts a threshold limit for
lead in paint at 90 parts per million (ppm). 
It further establishes a phase-out deadline for leaded decorative paints
by 2016 and leaded decorative paints by 2019.

The said policy also bans the use of lead in the production of toys, school
supplies, cosmetics, water pipes and food and beverage packaging, and
reiterates the ban on lead in fuel additives under the Clean Air Act.

Lucero duly noted the strategic role being played by the Philippine Association
of Paint Manufacturers (PAPM) to promote awareness and compliance to the CCO
among its members.  

“Our partnership with the PAPM and its members is one for the books and we hope
this constructive relationship to grow as we seek and monitor full industrial
compliance to the phase-out targets,” she said.

To date, paint companies with majority market share have completed their
transition to non-lead paint production, while other companies pursue their switch
in line with the CCO. 

“We’ll  also reach out to companies outside
the paint industry association to ensure a level playing field where all paint companies
stick to the rules,” she said. 

“We’ll also definitely keep an eye on foreign paint imports to make sure these
products conform with the lead paint regulation,” she added.

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers lead
as one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern,” warning that “there is no
safe level of exposure to lead.”

Children are
most likely to be exposed to lead from ingestion of flakes and dust from
decaying lead-based paint, according to WHO, affecting children’s brain
development and their measurable level of intelligence (IQ).

Childhood lead exposure is estimated to contribute to 600, 000 new cases of
children with intellectual disabilities every year, the WHO said.