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A Toxics-Free Future


EcoWaste hails lead control policy as best Christmas gift to Pinoy kids


MANILA, Dec. 24 (PNA) -- The EcoWaste Coalition lauded the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for promulgating a Chemical Control Order (CCO) regulating lead, a cumulative neurotoxin with no safe level of exposure that is exceptionally harmful to young children.


The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network of over 150 groups promoting zero waste, chemical safety and climate justice, said the new regulation will prevent and reduce childhood exposure to lead in paint and other pollution sources.


Lead poisoning, described by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a "scourge to human health for millennia," is known to cause neurological, reproductive, developmental and behavioral problems. According to WHO, these are "irreversible and untreatable by modern medicine."


DENR Secretary Ramon Paje signed the CCO Monday, which will take effect one month after publication in the Official Gazette or two newspapers of general circulation.


Among the CCO salient provisions that drew cheers from environmental and children health advocates is the prohibition of lead in paint above 90 parts per million (ppm), the current US standard for lead decorative paints.


Aside from setting a maximum permissible lead content in paint, the CCO prescribes a phase out period of three years for leaded architectural or decorative paints and six years for leaded industrial paints, including automotive and aviation paints.


According to the UN-established Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint (GAELP) which includes the EcoWaste Coalition as member, "children can be severely affected by eating lead-based paint chips, chewing on objects, including toys painted with lead-based paint, or from exposure to dust or soil that contains lead from paint."


"We laud Secretary Paje for heeding our long-standing appeal for regulatory action to eliminate lead in paint and halt a major source of lead exposure among children," said Aileen Lucero, Ecowaste national coordinator.


"Finally, we have a legal framework that is sure to energize the ongoing switch to non-lead paint manufacturing that is broadly backed by the government, industry and civil society, including professional health sector," Lucero added.


"This is a splendid Christmas gift to our children whose exposure to lead even at low doses can result in reduced intelligence and even in reduced economic productivity later in life," she stated.


The work to craft a CCO on lead commenced in 2007.


Responding to the demand for regulatory policy, the Environmental Management Bureau organized a series of stakeholders' meetings in 2011 and 2012 that eventually led to the completion of the CCO drafting process this year.


Last October, the EcoWaste Coalition initiated a series of activities in support to the first ever International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action, including the release of a EU-funded study that detected lead above 90 ppm in 75 out of 122 paint samples analyzed at a private laboratory in Italy.


The EcoWaste Coalition implements the IPEN Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project in the country, which is funded out of a P80 million EU grant for the seven-country project, including Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Philippines. (PNA) FFC/PR/EBP