Lead Exposure Costs the Philippines Over US$15 Billion Annually – NYU Researchers

A new interactive map shows that lead
exposure costs the Philippines more than US$ 15 billion (almost PHP
700 billion) annually. This cost exceeds the over US$ 675 million the Philippines received in net official development
assistance (ODA) in 2014.  
The interactive map “Economic Costs of Childhood Lead Exposure in Low-and
Middle-Income Countries” was developed by New York University School of
Medicine, Department of Pediatrics (NYU) and released today at the United
Nations Environment Assembly meeting being held in Nairobi, Kenya. It can be
accessed at: nyulmc.org/pediatricleadexposure.
“Children’s developing brains are permanently harmed by exposure to lead. One
key impact is reduction in IQ score, which is correlated with decreases in
lifetime earning potential. For the nation as a whole population-wide
reductions in IQ means greater social costs and reduced intellectual capital,
and other factors that adversely impact the Philippine economy, as the NYU map
clearly shows,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. 

According to the World Health Organization,
“There is no known safe blood lead concentration.”  When a young
child is exposed to lead, the harm to her or his nervous system makes it more
likely that the child will have difficulties in school and engage in impulsive
and violent behavior. Lead exposure in young children is also linked to
increased rates of hyperactivity, inattentiveness, failure to graduate from
high school, conduct disorder, juvenile delinquency, drug use, and
According to the NYU researchers: “One of the most important things we can do
to decrease children’s exposure to lead in  low- and middle-income
countries is to ensure lead is no longer used in household paint and other
paints to which children may be exposed (such as paints on playground

EcoWaste Coalition is a partner organization in IPEN’s Global Lead Paint
Elimination Campaign (http://ipen.org/projects/eliminating-lead-paint).  
In 2015, the EcoWaste Coalition released  the report “Lead in New Enamel
Household Paints in the Philippines,” which analyzed the lead content in paints
sold in the local market.   That study found 97 out of 140 enamel
decorative paints (69 percent of the samples) contained lead concentrations
above the regulatory standard of 90 parts per million (ppm), which may render
young children and pregnant women at risk of lead poisoning.  Sixty-three
of these samples contained dangerously high lead concentrations greater than
10,000 ppm, with one yellow quick-dry enamel paint containing the highest total
lead content at 153,000 ppm.
DENR Administrative Order 2013-24 establishes a 90 ppm limit for lead in paint
and provides for a phaseout deadline for leaded decorative paints by December
2016 and leaded industrial paints by December 2019.
“The research and the map released today clearly demonstrate that lead exposure
greatly erodes the gains from development aid and that sustainable development
will be severely hindered as long as childhood exposure to lead continues,”
Lucero said.
Worldwide the cost of lead exposure, according to the NYU research, is $977
billion international dollars with economic losses equal to:

·         $134.7
billion in Africa (4.03% of gross domestic product (GDP) in that region),
·         $142.3
billion in Latin America and the Caribbean (2.04% of GDP in that region), and
·         $699.9
billion in Asia (1.88% of GDP in that region).
To prepare the interactive map, researchers
assessed the neurodevelopmental impacts of lead, assessed as decrements (or
reductions) in intelligence quotient (IQ) points caused by lead and how those
reductions translated into decreases in lifetime earning potential, assessed as
lost lifetime economic productivity (LEP) in each country examined. 
Additional comparison information to developed countries and to ODA dollars is
also provided, along with links to the full report and supplemental

The EcoWaste Coalition is an environmental organization pursuing socially just
and sustainable solutions to waste, chemical and climate issues in the
Philippines, and is a member of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint

IPEN is a network of non-government organizations working in more than 100 countries
to reduce and eliminate the harm to human health and the environment from toxic
chemicals. IPEN is a member of the Advisory Group of
GAELP, which seeks the elimination of lead in paint by 2020. 



Link to the interactive map:


Link to the World Bank data on net official development assistance:


Link to civil society campaign to eliminate lead paint: