Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor M. Briones was commended by groups promoting a healthy and safe children’s environment for issuing a directive entitled “Mandatory Use of Lead-Safe Paints in Schools.”
The EcoWaste Coalition (a local environmental group) and IPEN (a global civil society network for safe chemical policies and practices) lauded the recent issuance of Department Order 4, Series of 2017, stating that “the use of only lead-safe coatings or paints shall be mandatory to all pre-school, elementary and secondary schools.”
The EcoWaste Coalition had earlier requested Secretary Briones last September 2016 to strengthen Memorandum 85, s.2016 on the use of lead-free paints issued by former Secretary Armin Luistro, stressing that “an enhanced (policy) will advance DepEd’s mission of promoting a child-friendly school environment where students can obtain quality basic education they deserve.”
“We laud Secretary Briones for the timely issuance of DO 4, s. 2017 following the three-year phase-out deadline for lead-containing architectural, decorative and household paints last December 31, 2016. Her order will ensure that paints and products laden with lead, a brain-damaging chemical, will not find their way into the school system and pose lead exposure risks for our children,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Use of lead-safe paints shall reduce children’s exposure to toxic lead via lead-containing paint and dust, thus, avoiding health impacts including learning disabilities, anemia and disorders in coordination, visual, spatial, and language skills,” the DO 4 explained.
“The DepEd’s directive provides a good example as to what other agencies can do to boost the enforcement of the country’s trailblazing policy to phase out lead paints and prevent children’s and workers’ exposures from such paints. We hope that other agencies will follow suit, particularly by requiring the procurement and use of certified lead-safe paints for all publicly-funded buildings and facilities,” said Manny Calonzo, Adviser, IPEN Lead Paint Elimination Campaign.
DO 4 corresponds to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order 2013-24 (or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds), the 15-point human rights agenda for chemical safety by the Commission on Human Rights and DepEd Memorandum 85, s. 2016 on the use of lead-free paint for the Brigada Eskwela school repair and maintenance activities.
The order provides for the mandatory use of independently certified lead-safe paints/coatings in painting and/or repainting school facilities, amenities and other structures such as gate and fence, as well as furniture such as tables, chairs and cabinets, fixtures such as blackboards, learning materials such as teaching aids, school supplies, and toys, and tools and equipment.
In case of renovation of school buildings and other facilities and the restoration of school furniture and fixtures, the order requires the use of the guidelines on proper removal and disposal of lead paints as set by the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers to prevent the generation and dispersal of lead-containing dust that children may ingest or inhale.
DO 4 shall also apply to paint-coated goods or products directly procured by the school as well as those sourced by other means such as through individual, group, corporate or local government donations. For example, products donated or sold to schools such as, but not limited to, paints, bags, school supplies and furnishings shall be compliant with DENR AO 2013-24 and other relevant lead-related regulations.
The Education Facilities Division–DepEd Central Office; the Education Support Service Division (ESSD) Education Facilities Section–Regional Offices; and the School Governance and Operations Division (SGOD)–Education Facilities Section–Schools Division Offices shall be responsible for the implementation of this latest DepEd order on lead paint.