“We give Secretary Judy Taguiwalo and the DSWD the thumbs up for issuing the memorandum requiring the use of lead-safe paints in residential and non-residential facilities managed or operated by the department and other accredited agencies,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
The group had earlier requested the DSWD to issue such a directive after the Department of Education in January this year ordered the compulsory use of lead-safe paints in all preparatory, elementary and secondary schools.
Taguiwalo’s memorandum to all DSWD officials and employees, the EcoWaste Coalition said, is in line with the phase-out requirements for lead-containing paints under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds.
“This policy will make lead safety a key concern for Reception and Study Centers for Children, Regional Rehabilitation Centers for Youth, Homes of Boys and Girls and Lingap Centers, as well as for orphanages and day care centers across the country,” Lucero said.
“This will promote a lead-free environment for the children and youth being cared for by the DSWD and licensed social welfare and development agencies (SWDAs) by removing a preventable source of lead exposure among kids such as peeling lead paint and dust. This is essential for their lifelong good health,” she added.
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that “children are particularly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of lead, and even relatively low levels of exposure can cause serious and in some cases irreversible neurological damage.” WHO classifies lead as one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern.”
According to the DSWD Secretary’s memorandum, “the Standards Bureau/Unit shall ensure compliance by all SWDAs that their residential and non-residential facilities, including furniture, fixture and equipment, are using lead-safe paints or coatings prior to licensing or re-accreditation.”
“The Administrative Service/Unit and the Procurement Service/Unit shall both ensure that future painting works for all (DSWD) buildings, office premises and structures, including centers and institutions, either by administration (with the materials to be procured) or by contract (with labor and materials to be outsourced) should comply with (DENR A.O. 2013-24),” it stated.
The memorandum also tasked the DSWD Inspectorate Committee to facilitate the inspection of DSWD buildings, office premises and centers in order to identify those decorated with paints exceeding the threshold limit of 90 parts per million under the said DENR A.O.
“The DSWD Disposal Committee is also instructed to facilitate proper removal and disposal of lead paints as may be deemed necessary during (the) repainting or renovation of structures in consonance with the guidelines set by the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers,” the memorandum said.