20 May 2018

Schools Urged to Emphasize Lead Safety in Brigada Eskwela (Group Seeks Full Compliance to DepEd Orders on Mandatory Use of Lead-Safe Paints)

A waste and pollution watch group exhorted the country’s public elementary and secondary schools to make lead safety part of the annual Brigada Eskwela on May 28 to June 2.  

In line with Department Order No. 4 issued by Education Secretary Leonor Briones in January 2017, the EcoWaste Coalition urged school heads to ensure full compliance to the “mandatory use of lead-safe paints in schools.” 

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 in the school environment.

In December 2017, Briones  issued Department Order No. 64 detailing the minimum performance standards and specifications for DepEd school buildings. “Paints materials must be independently certified lead-safe paints/coatings,” according to the said order. 

“We laud Education Secretary Briones for her steadfast commitment to promote a lead-safe school environment for Filipino children as contained in Department Orders 4 and 64, series of 2017.  Strict compliance to these orders is crucial to stop the entry and use of lead-containing architectural, decorative and household (ADH) paints in all schools following the completion of the three-year phase-out for such paints last December 2016,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The effective enforcement of these orders will also help in reducing the creation and dispersion of lead-tainted paint chip, dust and soil from the Brigada Eskwela school cleanup and renovation activities that children may ingest or inhale,” he added.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, “the most common lead hazards in schools are lead-based paint, lead dust and contaminated soil.”

Exposure to lead can permanently damage the brain and the central nervous system, impair growth and development, and cause learning and behavioral problems, the EcoWaste Coalition warned.

“As there is no safe threshold for lead exposure, we need to pay serious attention on eliminating preventable lead pollution sources such as lead-containing paints in our homes, schools and communities,” Dizon said.  

“D.O. 4-2017 is by far the most important lead poisoning prevention directive made by the DepEd complementing the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources,” he said.

According to D.O. 4-2017, the use of independently certified lead-safe paints/coatings is mandatory to all painting and/or repainting works of school facilities, furniture, fixtures, learning materials and tools and equipment. 

The said D.O. also applies to paint-coated goods or products directly procured by the school as well as those sourced by other means such as through individual, group, corporate or local government donations.

To drum up awareness and compliance to the ban on lead-containing ADH paints, the EcoWaste Coalition will distribute posters to Metro Manila schools announcing the phase-out of such paints.

During the week of the Brigada Eskwela, the EcoWaste Coalition will deploy a roving team targeting Quezon City schools to promote compliance to D.O. 4-2017



19 May 2018

Group Pushes for Product Safety Monitoring of School Supplies

As retailers enjoy brisk business with the opening of classes for School Year 2018-2019 on the way, a consumer and environmental protection group called on the authorities to intensify ongoing product safety monitoring of school supplies.

The EcoWaste Coalition pressed government regulators to keep an eye on the safety of school supplies from hazardous substances as some items on store shelves may not conform with product standards and regulations.    

The group made the suggestion following the on-the-spot inspection on May 18 of retail outlets selling school supplies in Caloocan City by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) representatives.

“We surely support the government’s effort to check business compliance with the suggested retail prices (SRPs) for notebooks, writing pads, pencils, ballpens, crayons, erasers, sharpeners and rulers as contained in the DTI’s shopping guide for school supplies,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“However, the current list of school supplies being monitored should be expanded to include other must-have back-to-school items such as bags, shoes, water color sets and others.  Also, the monitoring should cover compliance with the SRPs as well as product safety requirements,” he said.

“Consumers should be assured of access to affordable as well as quality and non-toxic school supplies that will not pose health risk to children,” he emphasized.

To drive their point home, the EcoWaste Coalition on May 18 procured school bags from four retail establishments in Caloocan City and had them screened for lead, a substance that is highly toxic to a child’s brain, using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence device.

The bags, sold for P130 to P309 each, do not provide basic labeling information about their manufacturers, much less about their chemical composition, the group observed.

Of the eight school bags bought and analyzed, six were found to contain lead in the range of 679 to 3,588 parts per million (ppm).   

Lead is prohibited in the manufacture of school supplies as per DENR Administrative Order 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, which also bans the use of paints with lead content above 90 ppm in the production of toys and a wide array of children’s products after December 31, 2016.

In the US, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act requires that “all children’s products must not contain a concentration of lead greater than 90 ppm in paint or any similar surface coatings.”  This rule also applies to all accessible component parts of a children’s product.

Studies have shown that lead exposure early in life can result in serious and irreversible damage to children's developing brains, and cause decreased intelligence, poor reading and language skills, hearing loss, aggression, attention deficit disorder and other behavioral problems.

"For our children's health, we need to get rid of all preventable sources of childhood exposure to lead, including lead-tainted consumer products such as school supplies and toys," the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out. 



https://www.dti.gov.ph/media/ advisories/11985-gabay-school- supplies-srp
https://chemical.emb.gov.ph/ wp-content/uploads/2017/03/MC- 2016-010.pdf
https://www.cpsc.gov/Business- -Manufacturing/Business- Education/Lead/Total-Lead- Content

15 May 2018

EcoWaste Coalition Promotes Creative and Safe Recycling of Poll Campaign Materials

Photo courtesy of Manny Palmero, ABS-CBN News

Now that the people have spoken through ballots cast in yesterday's Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls, the EcoWaste Coalition today drew attention to a practical opportunity for citizens to trim down campaign trash disposal through creative and safe recycling.

Instead of dumping or burning campaign discards, the zero waste advocacy group urged the public to think out of the box and find ways to extend the life of used campaign materials such as leaflets, sample ballots, and posters.

“Sorting the campaign materials into paper, cardboard, plastic and other classifications will help in finding new uses for them," said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

"Reusing, repurposing or recycling the campaign materials will conserve valuable resources from being wasted, while reducing the volume of discards requiring disposal and its associated costs," he said.  

To foster creative and safe recycling, the EcoWaste Coalition today organized a simple DIY (do it yourself) event featuring innovative and functional ways of reusing campaign materials.

With the re-opening of classes just around the corner, cardboard posters can be transformed into useful school supplies like book cover, bookmarks. envelopes, folders and name plates, as well as teaching aids like flash cards and "tell the time" clock.  

With some imagination, cardboard posters can be made into decorative items like picture and mirror frames and ref magnets.

Candidates' publicity flyers and sample ballots can be turned into drawing, memo or scratch pads.  

As for the ubiquitous plastic tarpaulins, these sturdy campaign materials can be sewn into various types of bags, aprons, and organizers for carpentry and garden tools, letters and bills, etc.

In addition, tarpaulins can also be reused as a sunshade for jeepneys, tricycles and pedicabs, or as a canopy for homes and shops.

However, plastic tarpaulins should only be repurposed for non-food and non-child applications as these often contain toxic additives such as cadmium, which may leach and contaminate the food or expose children to chemical hazards," reminded Alejandre who also noted that repurposing such  tarpaulins as a stop gap measure.  

The EcoWaste Coalition had earlier advised poll candidates to use eco-friendly campaign materials, and to avoid those that contain hazardous substances such as cadmium-laden tarpaulins.


14 May 2018

EcoWaste Coalition Scores Littering, Smoking at Barangay and SK Polling Places

Photos above were taken today at Fernando Ma. Guerrero Elementary School, Pedro Gil St., Manila and its vicinity.

As the synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections get underway, a waste and pollution watchdog reiterated its appeal to the electorate to keep the polling places litter-free, as well as smoke-free.

“The schools where most of the polling precincts are located should be free from garbage and tobacco pollution.  We therefore urge the public not to pollute the school environment with litter and smoke,” stated Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We have to issue this last-minute reminder after finding sample ballots and other campaign materials scattered in some polling places in Makati and Manila, especially at the school entrance,” he said.

“In one school in Manila, we even find supporters of some candidates smoking inside the school compound,” he added.

“With voting to continue until 3:00 pm, school heads can still do something to ensure full observance of their ‘no littering,’ ‘no smoking’ policy.  The least they can do is to grab the microphone and make the necessary public announcement against dropping litter and smoking within the school facilities,” he said. 

The group also appealed to the members of the electoral board, poll watchers, poll volunteers, and other election stakeholders to be mindful of their discards.

“Kindly put your discards into their dedicated receptacles.  Most schools will have segregated waste bins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable discards.  Please use them properly and do not simply leave your beverage and food containers and leftovers inside the polling areas,” Alejandre said.

The EcoWaste Coalition noted that the Department of Education has promulgated policies towards the promotion of litter-free and tobacco-free schools.

Under DepEd Order No. 5, series of 2014, schools are enjoined to conduct activities that will enforce the prohibition on littering and burning of wastes as per Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. 

DepEd Order No. 48, series of 2016, on the other hand, reiterates the smoking ban in school premises, as well as compliance monitoring of tobacco control measures for stores outside the schools.  


Note: The EcoWaste Coalition today had the chance of visiting the Fernando Ma. Guerrero Elementary School (Pedro Gil St.Manila), Margarita Roxas de Ayala Elementary School (A. Francisco St., Manila), Villamor High School (Pasig Line, Manila), Francisco Benitez Elementary School (Visita St., Makati) and the Jose Magsaysay Elementary School (Constancia St., Makati).  

12 May 2018

Barangay, SK Poll Candidates Urged to Shift to Clean-Up Mode with the Conclusion of Nine-Day Campaign Period (Group Challenged Candidates to Dedicate May 15 for Post-Election Ecological Cleanup and Recycling Activities)

As the official campaign period for the May 14 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls comes to a halt tomorrow, a waste and pollution watch group challenged all candidates to now switch to the clean-up mode.

In a bid to promote ecological clean-up of the nine-day campaign mess, the EcoWaste Coalition dared Barangay and SK candidates poll candidates to, win or lose, clear their respective communities of campaign posters as soon as the vote counting is over.

“As the grueling campaign has finally concluded, we ask all candidates to change gears and plan for the ecological clean-up of posters and other propaganda materials in their neighborhoods.  Regardless of the poll results, please shift to the clean-up mode,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Voluntarily removing all remnants of the campaign frenzy is a nice way of expressing magnanimity in victory, as well as graciousness in defeat,” he said.

“We hope poll candidates and their supporters will exert the same effort, time and resources they have invested during the campaign period for post-election ecological cleanup and recycling activities on May 15," he added. 

The EcoWaste Coalition emphasized that such activities should be undertaken in an eco-friendly manner that will not pose hazards to community health and the environment.

To minimize such hazards, the group emphasized the need for the candidates and their supporters to be mindful of acts prohibited under key environmental laws such as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act,  Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act.

"Dumping campaign discards on streets, vacant lots, storm drains and water bodies, or setting them on fire are forbidden by our laws to protect public health and the environment," Alejandre said.

"Discarded campaign materials should be segregated, not mixed altogether, to facilitate their proper recycling or disposal," he said.

Alejandre warned against the open burning of campaign materials, particularly those made out of chlorinated compounds such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic tarpaulins.

"Aside from particle pollution, the open burning of trash may cause the formation and discharge of dioxins, a group of highly toxic chemicals resulting from combustion processes," he said.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, "dioxins are highly toxic and can cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, damage to the immune system, and can interfere with hormones."

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), of which the Philippines is a state party, calls for global reduction of byproduct POPs such as dioxins and, where feasible, their ultimate elimination.

"The post-campaign clean-up should not lead to human exposure to dioxins and other environmental pollutants," the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized.   


https://www.epa.gov/dioxin/lea rn-about-dioxin
http://chm.pops.int/TheConvent ion/Overview/tabid/3351/Defaul t.aspx