Manila City Government Urged to Give Basketball Courts and Playgrounds Lead Safe Makeovers

A watchdog
group promoting a healthy and safe environment for children and youth urged the
Manila City Government to refurbish the city’s  basketball courts and playgrounds with lead
safe paints and adhering to proper lead paint abatement procedures.

In a letter delivered today to the offices of Mayor Joseph “Erap” Ejercito
Estrada and Vice-Mayor  Francisco “Isko
” Domagoso, the EcoWaste Coalition alerted the city’s top
executives about the high levels of lead detected in 10 basketball courts and
playgrounds across the city.

Equipped with a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, the EcoWaste
Coalition’s team on May 26 and 30 screened the paint coatings on basketball
court flooring and playground equipment for lead, a highly toxic,
health-damaging chemical.

Among the places visited and screened with XRF
were the the Paraiso ng Batang Maynila (Quirino Ave.), Dakota Playground
Basketball Court, Paraiso ng Batang Maynila (Pedro Gil St.), Plaza del Azul
Playground (Quirino Ave.), Pandacan Linear Park,  Andalucia Basketball Court (Aragon St. cor.
Lacson Ave.), RASAC Covered  Court
(Alvarez St. cor. Rizal Ave.), Plaza del Carmen Playground (across San
Sebastian Church), Delpan Sports Complex Basketball Court (outdoor) and
Barangay 283 Basketball Court (San Nicolas near Pasig River).

Based on the XRF screening results, the
playground equipment had lead up to 206,000 ppm, the  basketball court flooring had lead up to over
100,000 ppm and the basketball post had lead up to 95,900  ppm.

“Aside from the high lead content, we saw that all of the basketball courts and
playgrounds we visited in the City of Manila have seen better days with the
lead paint coated flooring and equipment chipping and flaking off, posing
chemical hazard, “ said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste

“And many of the playground equipment are partially, if not totally, wrecked,
posing physical hazard,” she added.

In their letter to Mayor Estrada and Vice-Mayor Moreno, the group noted that “lead
exposure is particularly harmful to young children and that even low levels of
exposure can interfere with the developing brain and cause lifelong impacts to
a child’s health and development, including lower  intelligence, decrease school performance,
attention deficiencies, poor impulse control and aggressive behaviour.”  

To improve the chemical and physical safety conditions of Manila’s basketball
courts and playgrounds, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the city government to:

1.  Adopt a LEAD SAFE PROCUREMENT POLICY that will disallow the use of lead
paint in government buildings, schools, day care centers, hospitals, clinics,
basketball courts, playgrounds and other facilities frequented by children.

2.  Refurbish the city’s basketball
courts and playgrounds using LEAD SAFE
and following proper LEAD PAINT
to avoid further dispersal of lead dust into the

3.  Replace highly-leaded and damaged
playground equipment with certified LEAD

“We further encourage the City Government of Manila to consult with concerned professionals
to ensure that the refurbished basketball courts and playgrounds pass design,
safety, quality, and aesthetics checks, and comply with basic international
safety norms and standards,” Lucero also said.

Last December 2013, through the combined efforts of the government, industry
and civil society, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) promulgated
a Chemical Control Order on Lead and Lead Compounds  (DENR A.O. 2013-24), which among other
measures, establishes a threshold limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) for total
lead in paint and targets 2016 as the phaseout date for leaded architectural,
decorative and household paints and 2019 for leaded industrial paints. 

The 90 ppm total lead limit is also the standard used for lead in paints and
surface coatings under the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.