Quezon City Pre-Schoolers and Parents Push for Lead Paint Elimination for Healthy Bodies and Environment

To mark the continuing celebration
of the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action (ILPPWA) and in
commemoration of the United Nations Day today, over one hundred school kids
dressed in vibrant national costumes of UN member states paraded with their
parents and teachers at Barangay Tatalon, Quezon City, to raise public
consciousness about lead hazard and gather support for the elimination of lead
paints in the market.

The activity, a component of the
European Union-assisted Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project, is jointly
organized by the EcoWaste Coalition and ROTCHNA Day Care Center and has “Kids
and Communities for a Lead Safe Future” for its theme, reflecting the shared
aspiration of the participants to protect every child from being exposed to
lead, a toxic brain-damaging chemical.
“We are assembled here today to reach
out to the community folk and spur caring action to deter childhood lead
exposure at home and in school. It is important for parents and teachers to
know what causes lead poisoning and how it can be avoided, so that they can
proactively defend the kids against varied sources of lead exposure such as
through the ingestion and inhalation of lead-contaminated paint chips and
dust,” explained Jeiel Guarino, Communications and Policy
Officer of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Lead Paint Elimination Project.
After the parade, the group gathered
in front of the school to learn more about lead poisoning through instructive
and exciting games, followed by the turn-over of the newly-painted ROTCHNA Day
Care Center, a collaborative project of the EcoWaste Coalition with the
Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers (PAPM).
“The paint remediation done on
the school’s exteriors, interiors, chairs, tables and cabinets is our voluntary
response to the Quezon City government’s drive to make residents cautious about
the health effects of exposure to lead, especially among our young children who
are vulnerable to such chemical hazard,” said Evelyn Galang, Head Teacher,
ROTCHNA Day Care Center.
The Quezon City Council last August
11 adopted a resolution calling for the observance of the annual “Lead
Poisoning Prevention Week” to “raise awareness on lead poisoning prevention,
particularly from avoidable sources of lead pollution such as lead paints.”
Through the resolution sponsored by
Councilor Dorothy Delarmente, the councilors further “recognized the reduction
of childhood lead exposure as a fundamental goal in public health.”
“We thank the EcoWaste Coalition for
screening our facility for lead paint hazard and the PAPM for providing the
labor and lead safe materials for the repainting work. Hopefully, our
experience will encourage the local government to recognize possible lead
hazards in other school environments and act with urgency to prevent kids from
continually being exposed from the dangers of lead,” added Galang.
Last April, the EcoWaste Coalition
observed chipping paints on the interior walls of the day care center, which
yielded positive for lead upon screening with an x-ray fluorescence (XRF)
device. This prompted the group to partner with PAPM for basic lead paint
remediation for the day care facility.
To further ensure children’s safety
from hazardous lead paint chips and dust, the EcoWaste Coalition advised the
school to keep all coatings in excellent shape, frequently wipe off dust,
regularly wet mop the floors, and ensure that kids always wash their hands
after play and before meals.
In addition, the EcoWaste Coalition
shares the following recommendations for parents to minimize childhood exposure
from household dust:
– Keep the areas where your children
play as dust-free and clean as possible.
– Wash pacifiers and bottles after
they fall on the floor, and keep extra ones handy.
– Clean floors, window frames, window
sills and other surfaces weekly using wet mops, sponges or paper towels and a
general all-purpose cleaner.
– Thoroughly rinse sponges and mop
heads after cleaning dirty and dusty areas.
– Wash toys and stuffed animals
– Make sure your child does not chew
on anything covered with lead paint, such as painted window sills or cribs.
According to the World Health
Organization (WHO), “lead poisoning is a serious child health concern
throughout the world. Children are most likely to be exposed to lead from
ingestion of flakes and dust from decaying lead-based paint. This affects
children’s brain development and their measurable level of intelligence (IQ).”

Furthermore, the WHO’s report on “Childhood Lead
Poisoning” states that “these effects are untreatable and irreversible because
the human brain has little capacity for repair, causing diminution in brain
function and reduction in achievement that last throughout life.”

Organized worldwide by
the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, a joint undertaking by the WHO and
the United Nations Environmental Programme, the ILPPWA also seeks concrete
action and policy support from both national and local governments in the
country to minimize, if not eliminate childhood lead exposure.
The EcoWaste Coalition-led campaign
is part of a seven-country EU-supported Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project by
IPEN, a global civil society network promoting safe chemical policies and
practices to protect human health and the environment.