Watchdog Welcomes Reduced Lead Levels of QMC’s Play and Work-Out Equipment

Quezon City.  The
Quezon City Government got a pat on the back for dramatically reducing the
levels of lead, a highly toxic chemical, in exercise, fitness and recreation equipment
at the Quezon Memorial Circle.

From having outrageously high lead concentrations reaching up to 320,000 parts
per million (ppm) in 2012, the EcoWaste Coalition noted the dramatic drop in the
amounts of lead detected in various types of play and work-out equipment in the

In April last year, the EcoWaste Coalition alerted Quezon City Mayor Herbert
Bautista about the hazards posed by the extremely leaded equipment in the park many
of which have seen better days with paints chipping off and needing serious
remediation or replacement.

Yesterday, September 7, the EcoWaste Coalition returned to the park to check on
the renovation efforts being carried out by the Quezon City Parks Development
and Administration.

Equipped with a portable X-Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, the group analyzed a
total of 40 samples, including 16 newly-installed equipment imported from South
Korea, 4 new stainless steel equipment, 10  refurbished equipment and 10 picnic table and
chair sets.

All the 4 stainless steel equipment and the 10 sets of red oxide painted tables
and chairs showed no detectable levels of lead, the group said.

“While we still detected varying levels of lead in some of the new and old equipment,
their concentrations were very much lower compared to what we found in 2012,” noted
Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project.

“For instance, a leg press equipment that we tested last year had 320,000 ppm
of lead.  A similar equipment we recently
analyzed had 5,221 ppm of lead,” he said.

“A twin arm warmer equipment last year indicated over 100,000 ppm of lead and a
comparable equipment this year showed 259 ppm of lead,” he added.

The limit for lead in paint and surface coatings is 90 ppm under the US
Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and in the draft Chemical Control Order
for Lead and Lead Compounds by the Department of Environment and Natural

As the local government expands its renovation efforts to cover other parks and
playgrounds in Quezon City, the EcoWaste Coalition urged Mayor Bautista to aim
for unleaded public facilities during his second term of office.

“By adopting and applying non-lead, non-toxic green procurement policy, we know
that the city’s parks and other public amenities will truly become child and
family-friendly,” Dizon said.

“Suppliers should be required to provide only ‘no lead added’ equipment to
replace the tainted ones, or unleaded paint to patch up the expended ones,”
Dizon said.

To prevent children and other park visitors from being exposed to lead, the
EcoWaste Coalition reiterated the following suggestions:

Block off the lead-tainted equipment, particularly those that are already worn
out and with chipping paint, replace them with non-lead equipment or repaint
them with a certified lead-free paint.

2. Avoid disturbing lead-containing paint to prevent the dispersal of
contaminated chips, flakes or dust that children can breathe or swallow or come
in contact with their skin.

3. Conduct visual inspection and lead hazard assessment of all public
playgrounds in the city, as well as other government maternity and pediatric
wards, day care centers and schools in the city, to identify contaminated
fixtures and facilities and ensure professional remediation to ensure
children’s safety.

4. Regularly monitor lead-containing equipment in good condition for chipping,
flaking or weathering.

5. Check the lead levels in soil within the playground to determine if lead has
built up there, especially in spots where children often gather and play.

6.  Ensure environmentally-sound storage
and disposal of discarded leaded equipment and other waste contaminated with

To facilitate the ecological management of lead-containing waste, the EcoWaste
Coalition urged the city authorities to consult with the Environmental Management
Bureau or tap the professional services of EMB-accredited transport, storage
and disposal facilities.

The EcoWaste Coalition cited a study by the US
Consumer Product Safety Commission showing that lead used in paint on
playground equipment may present a serious poisoning hazard for children under
six years-old, concluding that the problem arises principally with older paint
where it has deteriorated and flaked due to weather conditions, age and usage.