Message of H.E. EU Ambassador for the Launch of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Lead Paint Sampling Report

Message of H.E. European Union Ambassador Mr. Guy Ledoux
Lead Paint Elimination Project Press Conference 

October 23, 2013

Dear participants,

I would like to thank you for inviting the European Union this morning to
attend the launch of EcoWaste Coalition’s lead paint sampling report and press

This week marks the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.  120 million people across the world are still
overexposed to lead.  The majority of
them are in the developing world and children are the most severely
affected.  Lead exposure in children
happens through contact with lead contaminated dust and soil in their
environment.  It affects brain
development leading to lower IQ, mental retardation and kidney damage.  These effects have a negative impact on
school performance and are non-reversible. 
600,000 new cases of children with intellectual disabilities due to lead
exposure occur every year according to the World Health Organization.

The report launched today is to our knowledge the first and most comprehensive
piece of evidence showing that the danger of lead exposure in the Philippines
exists.  Lead concentrations found in
more than 60% of paint samples collected in the Philippines were worryingly high.  Concentrations measured by our contractor – a
certified laboratory based in Italy – reached levels up to 200 times the level
authorized in many countries.  Such
paints are widely available to the public. 
They affect us and they affect the most vulnerable of us, namely
children, pregnant women and workers.

Lead is easy to replace in the majority of cases.  Alternative, less harmful chemicals
exists.  Lead-free paints available on
the market are not more expensive.

The EU has taken steps in order to phase out the use of lead in paint in its
common market.  In 1989, members of the
EU collectively banned the use of lead in paint after the adoption of a Council
Directive which states that lead compounds “may not be used as substances and
constituents of preparations intended for use as paints, except for the
restoration and maintenance of works of art and historic buildings”.   This regulation
was later completed by other directives banning the use of lead compounds in
key consumption products, notably toys and cosmetics.

The Philippine government is aware of the issue and is taking steps to control
the use of lead in decorative paints.  We
are encouraged by recent Congress and Senate Resolutions supporting the Lead
Poisoning Prevention Week as well as on-going discussions under the banner of
the Environment Management Bureau to come up with a Chemical Control Order
phasing out the use of lead in paint. 
Those among manufacturers having voluntarily phased out the use of lead
should also be commended.

The study launched today was funded by the European Union who provided a PHP 80
Million grant to implement the Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project in seven
countries (Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka and
Thailand).  Results so far have been very
encouraging with countries such as Sri Lanka having passed recently legislation
banning the use of lead in paint.

The Lead Paint Elimination Project forms part of the SWITCH Programme – an EU-funded
programme implemented in 16 countries across Asia.  Seventy projects are on-going with the
objective to promote sustainable consumption and clean production
practices.  Four SWITCH Projects with
total EU funding of PHP 400 Million are implemented in the Philippines.

Reducing exposure to lead in paints is a global public health priority.  Childhood as well as occupational exposure to
lead carries huge health and economic costs. 
The Philippines’ objective to eliminate lead in paints and remove the
risks posed by such toxic products, especially on children, women of
child-bearing age and workers is laudable. 
I hope today’s press conference will serve to raise awareness on this
invisible threat and bring about the necessary changes to preserve our
environment and protect the health of our children.

Thank you.