Groups press for expeditious phase out of leaded paints

GROUPS promoting children’s safety from toxic exposure appealed to the government for an immediate phase out of lead, a nasty brain damaging chemical, in decorative paints.

The EcoWaste Coalition and the Save Babies Coalition pressed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to speed up the issuance of a prevention-oriented policy that will protect children from exposure to lead paints, a significant source of childhood lead exposure.

“We urge the DENR to fulfill a much-delayed promise to issue a policy directive that will proactively safeguard children and other vulnerable groups from harms caused by exposure to lead-containing paint and dust,” said Edwin Alejo, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje in December 2011, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded, has called for “stricter control” of leaded paint as the DENR finalizes a draft Chemical Control Order (CCO) for lead and lead compounds, which has been pending since 2007.

“Paint makers and consumers are waiting for the DENR to give a sound policy guidance that will decisively and quickly ban lead-added paints, which are used in homes, day care centers, playgrounds, schools and even in toys and other children’s products,” said Ines Fernandez, Coordinator, Save Babies Coalition.

The groups issued a fresh plea for speedy phase out of leaded paints after the international community reiterated that “there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe” and “lead can have profound and permanent adverse health effects on children.”

At the third session of the UN-sponsored International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM3) held in Nairobi, Kenya from September 17-21, delegates noted that “lead is a toxic metal whose widespread use has caused environmental contamination and extensive public health problems in many parts of the world.”

Delegates noted “that good and affordable substitutes for lead pigments and other lead compounds that are used in decorative paints have been widely available for decades.”

They encouraged governments and other stakeholders to contribute to the “promotion of national regulatory frameworks, as appropriate, to stop the manufacture, import, export, sale and use of lead paints and products coated with lead paints.”

A presentation by Caroline Vickers of WHO’s Public Health and Environment Department at the ICCM3 emphasized that “children are particularly vulnerable,” that lead poisoning “accounts for 0.6% of the global burden of disease” and that “childhood lead exposure contributes to 600,000 new cases of children with intellectual disabilities per year.”

Citing a new report released at ICCM3 by IPEN, a global civil society network for a toxics-free future that includes the EcoWaste Coalition, the groups explained that lead exposure in children is associated with a lifelong, irreversible decrease in their intelligence and with aggression and other behavioral problems.

Other neurological effects of childhood lead exposure may include problems maintaining attention in school or home; hyperactivity; problems with learning and remembering new information; rigid, inflexible problem-solving abilities; problems controlling aggressive or impulsive behavior; problems paying attention; poor work completion and others, the report stated.

“To prevent childhood exposure from lead in paint and dust, we strongly urge the DENR to take action now and phase out leaded paints without further delay,” the EcoWaste Coalition and the Save Babies Coalition pointed out.


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