By Nelson Flores, Ll.B., MSCK
IN WHAT could be its most public health and environment friendly move, the Department of Interior and Local Government ordered the immediate mandatory phase out of the use of lead based paints in all local government structures and projects.
The order was contained in Memorandum Circular 2018-26 issued by DILG Officer-in-Charge-Secretary Eduardo M. Año last Feb. 28. It specifically directs all local government officials of the country’s 81 provinces, 145 cities, 1,489 municipalities and 42,036 barangays to:
- Support the phase-out of lead-containing paints and eventually reduce the hazards and risks posed by such paints to human health;
- Adopt a “Lead-Safe Paint Procurement Policy” to make sure LGUs only purchase and use lead-safe paints for painting jobs paid out of public funds;
- Ensure that the other prohibited uses of lead and lead compounds such as the ban on their use in the manufacture of school supplies, toys and other children’s products, including indoor and outdoor playground equipment, are duly observed;
- Carry out appropriate activities that will sensitize government personnel, as well as the general public, about lead exposure sources, symptoms and effects, and preventive measures; and
- Support the annual observance of the UN-backed International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action every last week of October of each year.
As this developed, an environment and public health watchdog, EcoWaste Coalition, praised the DILG for its decisive action which, it says, will ensure that paints used by local government units (LGUs) do not pose lead exposure risks for children, women and workers.
“Hats off to DILG for fully supporting the national and global drive to phase out lead paints by directing the compulsory use of paints without added lead by the country’s LGUs,” said EcoWaste Coalition President Eileen Sison.
“DILG MC 2018-26 is by far the most far-reaching directive on lead-safe paints ever promulgated since the phase-out of lead-containing architectural, household and decorative paints took effect on December 31, 2016,” she said.
The Coalition had earlier requested the DILG and the LGUs, considered a major paint consumer, to actively back the ongoing phase-out of lead-containing paints in the country.
“With the backing of the DILG Secretary, provincial governors, city and municipal mayors, and village chiefs, we feel confident that the concerted efforts to mainstream the use of lead-safe paints will reach even the remotest barangays,” Sison said.
According to the Coalition, the DILG MC 2018-26 strengthens the national implementation of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds.
It Added that MC 2018-26 also reinforces the implementation of the directives issued in 2017 by the Department of Education and the Department of Social Welfare and Development requiring the mandatory use of lead-safe paints in schools, and residential and non-residential facilities run by the government or licensed social welfare agencies, respectively.