The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watch group, reminded school heads and teachers to keep a vigilant eye on lead-containing decorative paints that are illegal to use in schools.
The group issued the reminder in time for next week’s Brigada Eskwela, an annual project of the Department of Education (DepEd) to prepare school facilities for the resumption of classes.
“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,” appealed Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
Lead-containing decorative paints that are typically used for homes, schools, daycare centers, and playgrounds, as well as for toys and other children’s products, have been phased out effective December 31, 2016 in line with DENR’s Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, the group said.
“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,” he emphasized.
DepEd issued the said order at the request of the EcoWaste Coalition, an advocate for lead-free school, to prevent and control 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.”