Makati “Kalbaristas” Urged to Prepare for Lead-Safe “Pabasa” Venues

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution
watchdog, has appealed to the Catholic faithful of Barangay Poblacion in Makati
City to choose paints without lead for their upcoming Holy Week activities.

The devotees, grouped into different neighborhood associations within the
Parish of Sts. Peter and Paul, are known for keeping the tradition of reading
or singing the Passion of Christ alive in a “kubol” (hut) representing a
mini-“Kalbaryo”(Calvary), hence the term “Kalbarista”.

Through a letter delivered last week to 38 associations of “Kalbaristas,” the
EcoWaste Coalition made a pitch for non-lead paints to ensure that the
creatively-made structures for the long-established “Pabasa”will be safe for
adults and children alike.

Each “Kalbaryo,” the EcoWaste Coalition noted, is artistically and
resourcefully done and often involves the use of paint materials.

“As the ‘Pabasa’ attracts residents of all ages, including young children, we
find it crucial that only non-lead paint products are used to decorate the
‘kubol’where it is held,” said Jeiel Guarino of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Lead
Paint Elimination Project.

“Doctors have identified no safe blood lead level in children. It is therefore
our responsibility to keep their surroundings safe from lead-based paint, a
major threat to children’s health, and other sources of lead pollution,” he
pointed out.

Lead is dangerous to human health when inhaled, swallowed or, in some cases,
absorbed through the skin, but it is most damaging to young children, Guarino emphasized.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, “lead is especially
dangerous to children under six years of age and can affect children’s brains
and developing nervous systems, causing reduced IQ, learning disabilities, and
behavioral problems.”

“When refurbishing any painted surfaces, essential precaution must be observed
to prevent the dispersal of paint dust that could potentially contain lead,”
reminded Guarino, “and enter a child’s body through their habitual
hand-to-mouth activities.”

Last year, the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect screened 22 “kubols” as
part of its campaign to build awareness and support for the elimination of
lead-added paints to promote children’s health and safety.

Using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, the group found three
of the 22 “kubols” with painted components exceeding the US limit of 90 parts
per million (ppm) for lead in paint.

The group will again visit Barangay Poblacion on March 23 to conduct a similar
XRF screening of the “kubols.”

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.