Ecowaste Coalition cites retailers for heeding ban on leaded paints

Photo from EcoWaste Coalition

Some retail stores have been hailed by the toxics watchdog organization EcoWaste Coalition for taking action against spray paints containing dangerous amounts of lead, a toxic substance prohibited in the production of paints and similar surface coverings.

In a statement Tuesday, it said the action by concerned retailers and distributors will go a long way toward protecting human health from lead exposure, for which the Philippines was awarded the prestigious Future Policy Award (special category on lead paint) by the World Future Council on June 29, the group said.

The country’s lead paint regulation as contained in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-issued Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, along with four other hazardous chemical policies from Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, Sri Lanka and Sweden, will be formally recognized today, July 6, through a high-level virtual Award Ceremony. 

“As the country’s lead paint policy is globally recognized, we wish to cite local retail stores for taking lead-containing spray paints off the shelves as we have requested.  Their action will surely contribute to protecting our children and workers from the adverse effects of lead poisoning,” said EcoWaste Coalitiona adviser Manny Calonzo in the press release.

“We also would like to seize the occasion to emphasize that more still needs to be done to ensure that only lead-safe paints are sold in the market, including online shopping platforms.  The government, in particular, has to strengthen its compliance monitoring and enforcement efforts to purge the market of errant paint products, including old stocks of leaded paints sitting on the shelves or in the bodegas as well as illegal lead paint imports,” he added.

To recall, the EcoWaste Coalition purchased 130 samples of bright color spray paints for its most recent market study, which it tested for lead using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) instrument.

Samples that exceeded the maximum limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) were submitted to SGS, a worldwide testing organization, for confirmation lead content analysis.

As confirmed by laboratory tests, 71 spray paint products representing 27 brands exceeded the 90 ppm limit.  Of these 71 leaded samples, 57 had dangerously high lead levels above 10,000.  One red orange spray paint was found laden with lead measured at 124,000 ppm.

None of these 71 leaded spray paints discovered by the EcoWaste Coalition was produced by companies belonging to the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers (PAPM), the group noted.

Upon written notification by the watchdog group, spray paint retailers Citi Hardware, Divimart, MR. D.I.Y. and Unitop Department Store confirmed in writing that they have pulled out the spray paint products in question from their stores.

Spray paint distributors Best Drive International, Inc. and Sinag General Merchandise likewise stopped the sale of their non-compliant products sourced from China.

The EcoWaste Coalition had also urged concerned retailers and distributors to return the leaded items to their suppliers for environmentally sound disposal.

“Dust and soil contaminated with lead that gets onto children’s hands and mouths is the major pathway by which lead in paint contributes to their exposure to this chemical poison early in life,” explained environmental health scientist Dr. Geminn Louis C. Apostol, Assistant Professor at the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health. 

“Lead exposure can cause debilitating and lingering health effects in all people, but it is much more harmful to young children whose brains and bodies are still developing,” he said, adding “exposure to lead early in life can cause developmental delay, reduced intelligence, shortened attention span, learning difficulties, poor school performance, and behavioral problems.”

The FPA 2021 virtual Award Ceremony can be viewed on youtube on July 6 from 9:00 pm: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvbZ7TWDlBUeuKMRQCBmiSw

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