results of a new study that detected high levels of toxic lead — a brain-damaging
chemical — in solvent-based paints applied on the interiors and exteriors of homes,
schools and other child-related facilities, drew positive reactions from paint
companies who committed themselves into shifting to non-lead materials.
The EcoWaste Coalition, a not-for-profit watchdog group for chemical safety and
zero waste, released the “Lead in New Enamel Household Paints in the
Philippines: The 2015 Report” last Thursday at an event attended by over 100
people, including educators, parents and representatives of the Philippine
Association of Paint Manufacturers, Philippine Institute of Architects,
Philippine Medical Association and the San Juan Division of City Schools.
As per laboratory analyses
conducted in Europe, 97 out of the 140
solvent-based decorative paints (69 percent) — mostly made by smaller manufacturers—had
lead levels above 90 parts per million (ppm). Sixty-three of these paints
contained dangerously high lead concentrations above 10,000 ppm, with four
brands containing lead between 102,000 to 153,000 ppm, the report noted
The Chemical Control Order for
Lead and Lead Compounds (CCO), signed by Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje
in December 2013, provides for a 90 ppm total lead content limit in paints and directs
a phase-out period until 2016 for leaded decorative paints and until 2019 for
leaded industrial paints.
With the phase-out deadline
for leaded decorative paints fast approaching, the EcoWaste Coalition has appealed
to paint companies to expedite their switch to non-lead pigments and driers, as
well as to tighten quality control measures to prevent lead contamination during
the manufacturing process.
With these new data, the
EcoWaste Coalition and the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers have
jointly agreed to push all paint companies to work double-time in order to
comply with the impending deadline for the removal of lead in decorative paints
“As per our agreement with paint industry leaders, we will work together to
secure compliance to the phase-out target for the sake of our children’s health
and the environment,” said Jeiel Guarino, in-house chemist and Campaigner for
Lead Paint Elimination, EcoWaste Coalition.
“In fact, we have so far received
formal expressions of commitment from six paint companies to conform to the CCO
and convert to lead-safe paints,” he added.
Among these companies were Andalucia, Globesco, H-Chem, Superglobe, Times Paint
and Treasure Island.
Pacific Paint (Boysen) and Davies, the two paint companies with the largest
market share, have already switched to non-lead paint formulations, the
EcoWaste Coalition noted.
“The effective enforcement of the CCO will make the
Philippines stand out among developing countries in terms of meeting the global
goal of eliminating lead paint, a major source of childhood lead exposure,”
said Ambassador Guy Ledoux of the European Union, which funded the study under
the 7-country IPEN Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “lead
has no essential role in the human body, and lead poisoning accounts for about
0.6 percent of the global burden of disease.” Evidence of reduced intelligence caused by
childhood exposure to lead has led WHO to list “lead-caused mental retardation”
as a recognized disease.
While lead exposure is harmful to adults, lead exposure
harms children at much lower levels, and the health effects are generally
irreversible and can have a lifelong impact.
“There is no known safe level of exposure to lead,” the WHO stated.