Government assures time for shifting to lead-free paint production

By , on June 27, 2014


Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje and European Union (EU) Ambassador Guy Ledoux lead DepEd and school officials in applying lead- and mercury-free paint at the Transition Laboratory and Conference Room of Commonwealth Elementary School in Quezon City during the campaign launching dubbed "Lead and Mercury-Safe Schools for Bright and Healthy Kids," on Tuesday (June 24, 2014). (PNA photos by Ben Briones)
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje and European Union (EU) Ambassador Guy Ledoux lead DepEd and school officials in applying lead- and mercury-free paint at the Transition Laboratory and Conference Room of Commonwealth Elementary School in Quezon City during the campaign launching dubbed “Lead and Mercury-Safe Schools for Bright and Healthy Kids,” on Tuesday (June 24, 2014). (PNA photos by Ben Briones)

MANILA — Manufacturers concerned have sufficient time for shifting to lead-free production of paint nationwide.

Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Director Juan Miguel Cuna gave such assurance, noting the agency’s Chemical Control Order (CCO) on phasing out use of lead and lead compounds provides manufacturers several years’ lead time for making the shift.

“They have enough time to make necessary adjustments in their production processes,” he said.

He clarified the matter as the non-toxic schools campaignthe Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) kicked off in Metro Manila this week raised concern about paint manufacturers’ capability to comply with the CCO within its specified time frame.

CCO is a policy issuance that either prohibits, limits or regulates use, manufacture, import, export, transport, process, storage, possession and wholesale of priority chemicals DENR determined to be regulated, phased-out or banned due to serious risks these pose to public health, the workplace and environment.

DENR earlier noted its CCO for lead and lead compounds “set the standard content of lead for locally produced paints at 90 parts per million as well as the time frame for strict implementation of the standard which starts in 2016 for paints intended for architectural, decorative, household applications while paints for industrialapplications starts in 2019.”

Aside from paint, the CCO prohibits use of lead and lead products in production of packaging for food and drinks, fuel additives, water pipes, toys, school supplies and cosmetics.

Experts said lead is a blue-gray metal known for its softness, malleability, resistance to corrosion and ability to conduct electricity and heat.

“Such element was known to be mined some 6,000 years ago and was used by Romans for plumbing and as sweetener but today, we know it to be a highly toxic chemical with a broad range of industrial uses owing to its cheapness and versatility,” said environment watchdog EcoWasteCoalition, citing experts’ findings.

EcoWaste noted the most pervasive use of lead is in paint.

Aside from paint, experts said lead and lead compounds have been used in various products like ceramics, pipes and other plumbing materials, solders, gasoline, batteries, ammunition and cosmetics.

US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warned lead isparticularly dangerous to children since their growing bodies absorb more of this element than adults do, however.

Children’s brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to lead’s damaging effects, EPA continued.

This week, EU as well as EMB and its mother agency DENR kicked off in Metro Manila the campaign promoting schools that are safe from lead and mercury, two naturally occurring but toxic elements.

EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux highlighted urgency for the campaign, saying latest available research findings confirm the danger of lead exposure in the Philippines is real.

He noted a study EU funded in 2013 showed “worryingly high” lead concentration in over 60 percent of paint samples collected nationwide.

Citing findings of EU’s contractor, a certified Italy-based laboratory, he said the study also showed average concentration of lead in the samples reached levels up to 200 times the maximum threshold authorized in other countries.

“Such paints are widely available to the public and affect us particularly the most vulnerable who are children, pregnant women and workers,” he warned.

Authorities lauded the country’s paint manufacturers for supporting the campaign.

“They’re cooperating on our bid for lead-free paint,” Cuna said.

He noted the paint manufacturers are abreast about government’s bid to phase out lead use as they were part of the technical working group that developed the CCO.

Such CCO is the subject of Department Administrative Order (DAO) 2013-24 which DENR issued last year.

The CCO covers importers, distributors, manufacturers, industrial users, recyclers, waste service providers like transporters, treaters and disposers.

“If industries cooperate on producing non-toxic items, I’m confident the deadline for shifting to lead-free production can be met,” said Cuna.

DENR said its CCO for lead and lead compounds is in line with Republic Act No. 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Act of 1990), DAO 29 series of 1992 (Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 6969) and DAO 05 series of 2005 (Toxic Chemical Substances for lssuance of CCOs).