The phase-out of all types of lead-containing paints in the Philippines is an excellent example of a successful chemical policy directive aimed at preventing and reducing children’s exposure to lead, a highly toxic substance, from paints.
The EcoWaste Coalition and the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers (PAPM) marked the historic transition of the country’s paint and coating industry to full non-lead production effective January 1, 2020 with the completion of the phase-out period for lead-containing paints used for industrial applications.
Under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, manufacturers of lead-containing paints for industrial uses were directed to phase out such paints by December 31, 2019.
Lead-containing architectural, household and decorative paints were phased out at an earlier time on December 31, 2016.
Lead paints are paints or other similar surface coatings containing lead compounds in excess of 90 parts per million (ppm).
“The conclusion of the phase-out period for lead-added industrial paints wraps up a positive process of replacing lead-based additives, particularly pigments, with non-lead raw materials for all paint formulations,” said Ely Kenneth Ong Sue, President, PAPM.
“The industry-wide shift to lead-free paint manufacturing is a superb way to usher in 2020.
"It’s a milestone made possible by unique government, industry and civil society collaboration,” he added.
For his part, Johnson Ongking, Vice-President, Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines, Inc. and former PAPM President, said: “Our fruitful experience in the Philippines in eliminating lead paints and coatings clearly shows that any developing country paint manufacturers can create colourful and commercially viable products without poisonous lead-containing pigment, drying accelerator or rust and corrosion protector.
"Our paint makers have gained competitive advantage by complying with the comprehensive ban on lead paints and by offering quality lead-safe products.”
“The complete phase-out of lead-containing paints is very significant for our children’s health and our nation’s future as childhood lead exposure can cause reduced intellectual development, limit educational attainment as well as hinder socio-economic advancement," noted Eileen Sison, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, an active member of the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), which is campaigning for a global ban on lead paint.
"We recognise our partners in the public and private sectors for this collective feat that will redound to a lead-safe environment, especially for young children, pregnant women and workers,” she said.
"With the national ban on lead-added paints for all product lines in effect, we urge paint dealers to take old non-compliant paints off the shelves and to stock up on lead-safe paints.
"To assure paint consumers that a product conforms with the maximum 90 ppm total lead content limit, we encourage more paint companies to participate in the third-party Lead Safe Paint® certification program," said Jeiel Guarino, Global Lead Paint Elimination Campaigner, IPEN.
The DENR, PAPM, Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines, Inc, EcoWaste Coalition and IPEN are partners of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint (a voluntary partnership formed by the UN Environment and the World Health Organization) whose overall goal is “to prevent children’s exposure to lead from paints and to minimise occupational exposures to lead paint.”
According to the UN Environment, “lead is a multisystem toxicant for which no safe level of exposure has been identified.”
“Lead exposure can cause chronic and debilitating health impacts in all age groups but it is particularly harmful to young children.
"This is because their developing nervous systems can be damaged by lead, resulting in reduced cognitive abilities, poor educational attainment, attention deficit disorder and anti-social behaviour.
"In adults, lead exposure can cause hypertension, renal impairment and damage to the reproductive organs,” the agency said.
To promote the mandatory use of lead-safe paints in the Philippines, national and local authorities, including the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Education, Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Quezon City Government, have adopted policies in support of DENR AO 2013-24.
Recognising there is still much work to be done, the EcoWaste Coalition and the PAPM last year wrote to the Environmental Management Bureau proposing for a review of how DENR AO 2013-24 is implemented in order to identify successes, determine gaps, and pinpoint further steps to improve its implementation