A PHILIPPINE based environment and public health watchdog asked school heads and teachers over the weekend to be vigilant in keeping out lead containing decorative paints and other items from their campuses.
In a statement, the EcoWaste Coalition, said school heads and teachers must make sure that no lead containing materials will be used in this week’s Brigada Eskwela, a bayanihan project of the Department of Education and the local communities to conduct maintenance and repair of public school buildings and campuses nationwide, in preparation for the resumption of classes this school year.
“We call upon all school heads and teachers to exercise the utmost vigilance to ensure that banned leaded paints are not used to decorate classroom walls, windows, doors, desks and tables, and other school amenities during the Brigada Eskwela,” said EcoWaste Coalition Chemical Safety Campaigner Thony Dizon.
Lead-containing decorative paints that are typically used for homes, schools, day care centers, and playgrounds, as well as for toys and other children’s products, have been phased out effective December 31, 2016 in line with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, the coalition noted.
“It is likely that old stocks of lead-containing paints are still available in hardware stores and unknowingly sold to uninformed buyers. Paint consumers have the right to be protected against hazards to health and should insist on lead-safe paints at all times,” Dizon warned.
The group reiterated the need for Brigada Eskwela participants to abide by Department Order No. 4, series of 2017, which requires the “mandatory use of lead-safe paints in schools.”
“It is our shared responsibility to keep leaded paints out of the school environment to thwart a globally recognized source of childhood lead exposure,” Dizon emphasized.
The DepEd has issued the said order at the request of the EcoWaste Coalition to prevent children’s exposure to lead through the ingestion of lead-contaminated paint chip, dust and soil.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones reinforced her earlier directive by issuing Department Order 64 in December 2017, which affirms the use of “independently certified lead-safe paints” as part of the minimum performance standards and specifications for DepEd school buildings.
While lead exposure can adversely affect almost every organ and system, lead exerts toxic effects on the brain and the central nervous system and is most harmful to young children.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “lead can affect children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient, behavioral changes such as reduced attention span and increased anti-social behavior, and reduced educational attainment.”
“There is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe,” according to WHO, which considers lead among the “ten chemicals of major public health concern.”