Toxics monitoring organization EcoWaste Coalition has urged local government units (LGUs) throughout the country to mandate the purchase and use of lead-safe paints to safeguard their people, particularly small children, from exposure to lead, a cumulative toxicant prohibited in paint manufacturing.

In a statement released in time for the third anniversary of Quezon City Ordinance 2739-2018 signed by then-mayor Herbert Bautista, the organization encouraged local governments to enact comparable legislation mandating the use of lead-safe paints in all building, maintenance, and restoration projects funded by taxpayers.

Davao City is the other model LGU that enacted Ordinance 0461-2018 prohibiting the manufacture, distribution and sale of paints containing lead above the regulatory limit of 90 parts per million (ppm).

“We request our local lawmakers to follow the good examples set by the Davao and Quezon city governments localizing the national ban on lead-containing paints to protect the health of vulnerable sectors such as children, women of reproductive age and workers,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The Future Policy Award recently bestowed on our country for banning lead paints through the DENR-issued Chemical Control Order should inspire our local authorities into enforcing further measures to promote and ensure a lead-safe environment for their constituents,” he added.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, lead-safe paint ordinances should prohibit the LGU from engaging in the following acts:

— procuring paints containing lead above 90 ppm;
— purchasing paints that lack independent proof of compliance with the regulatory standard;
— receiving and applying donated paints that are not compliant with the lead paint regulation; and
— using lead-containing paints above 90 ppm in decorating public facilities and amenities, including, but not limited to, schools, day care centers, children’s parks and playgrounds, health centers, sports complexes and covered multi-purpose courts.

To prevent the dispersal of lead-containing paint chips and dust and to reduce lead exposure, the ordinance should include a provision requiring contractors and workers to take protective measures when surfaces previously coated with lead paint are disturbed during repair, remodeling or repainting activities, the group said.

The enactment of lead-safe paint ordinances, the group emphasized, will be in line with Memorandum Circular 2018-26 issued by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) enjoining LGUs to “support the phase-out of lead-containing paints and eventually reduce the hazards and risks posed by such paints to human health.”

DILG MC 2018-26 enjoins local officials from governors to barangay chairs to:

— “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 every last week of October of each year.”