Lawmakers chairing the health committees at both chambers of the 17th Congress have thrown their support to the national effort to eliminate lead-containing paints on the market.
Senator Risa Hontiveros and Representative Angelita Tan both expressed support to the implementation of the three-year phase-out program for lead-containing architectural, decorative and household (ADH) paints that will end on December 31, 2016 in separate statements issued in observance of the UN-backed International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action (ILPPWA).
The ILPPWA is co-organized by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Health Organizations with support from the government, industry and civil society partners of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, which includes the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines,Inc. and the EcoWaste Coalition as members.
"The observance of the ILPPWA in the Philippines assumes greater relevance with the impending phase-out of lead-added decorative paints by December
31, 2016 in accordance with the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds (CCO) issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources almost three years ago," stated Hontiveros who chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Demography.
"With the phase-out deadline for leaded decorative paints on the horizon, I urge our paint manufacturers to expedite the reformulation of their paint products for consumer and household use that still contain lead additives," he said.
Hontiveros also urged paint manufacturers "to ensure that such products are taken off store shelves on or before the phase-out deadline," stressing that "this will require paint companies to roll out a well-communicated and systematic system for retrieving such products to ensure that these are not sold at rock-bottom prices, donated to homes, schools and marginalized sectors or unsafely disposed of."
To help consumers distinguish between compliant and non-compliant products and avoid lead paint hazards, Hontiveros likewise appealed to the paint manufacturers to have their paint products independently certified as lead-safe by a third-party certification body.
"As Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, I wish to assure the government, the industry and the civil society of my sincere support to preventive policies and practices that will protect our children, our women and our workers against the adverse health effects of human exposure to lead and other hazardous substances," she concluded.
Representative Tan, who chairs the House Health Committee, affirmed her support to the civil society's "advocacy to eradicate the dangers to human health caused by lead in household and industrial products."
"Scientific evidences have proven that human exposure to lead can irreversibly damage the brain and central nervous system that inevitably results in serious development and health problems later in life," she said.
"As a medical professional and practitioner, I am fully aware that exposure to lead in products like paints and toys, especially among children, who are most vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of lead, may result in lower intelligence, learning difficulties, and kidney damage," she explained.
"Indeed, endeavors to heighten public awareness on the health hazards of lead need to be sustained and scaled up to prevent causing further damage to the health of the next generation," she added.
The toxics watch group EcoWaste Coalition welcomed the lawmakers' pro-health and pro-environment stance as it urged other personalities and sectors to rally behind the historic phase-out of lead-containing ADH paints in the country.
"The phase-out of leaded gasoline in 2000 is credited for the major reduction in airborne lead pollution in the country. With the phase-out of leaded paint used in residential houses, schools, day care centers, home furnishings and fixtures, playground equipment and toys, we anticipate a significant reduction in lead paint hazards in children's environment. This is very good for our children's brains, their health and future," said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
Source: Philippine Information Agency