Toxins detected in spray paint

SPRAY paint has recently been found to contain dangerous lead concentrations, environmental health groups revealed.

A new report by the EcoWaste Coalition and International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) found high levels of lead in four samples of imported Parlux and Yandy spray paints bought from retail stores in Baguio City. The lead content is above the 90 ppm limit for lead under the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds.

“The unlawful sale of spray paints containing lead points to the need for strict monitoring of business, compliance to the Chemical Control Order prohibiting lead content above 90 ppm in all types of paint products. Paints in aerosol cans are definitely not exempted.” Thony Dizon, EcoWaste Coalition chemical safety campaigner, said.

A yellow Yandy spray paint had 47,500 ppm of lead and its green variant had 26,500 ppm. A green Parlux spray paint had 34,500 ppm of lead and its red variant had 1,700 ppm.

The report “Lead in Spray Paints for Consumer Use in the Philippines” provides the first publicly available data in the country on the lead content of paints sold in aerosol cans. The paints are typically used as a touch-up for appliances and cars, material for school projects, and enhancing accessories and decors.

While the hazards of spray paint fumes due to their volatile organic compound (VOC) ingredients like acetone, toluene and xylene are quite known, studies barely paid attention to lead lurking in such paints, the groups noted.

The report shows that out of 87 analyzed spray paints for consumer or general use, 37 samples exceeded the total lead content limit above 90 ppm of which 29 had dangerous lead concentrations topping 10,000 ppm. The samples were obtained from various retail outlets, including hardware stores, home improvement centers, general merchandise marts, school and office supplies shops, in 20 cities and one municipality in Metro Manila and various parts of Luzon, including Baguio City.

SGS Philippines conducted the laboratory tests.

The Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers (PAPM) with the EcoWaste Coalition and IPEN, said none of the spray paints analyzed in the study was produced locally by its affiliated companies.

“The authorities need to ensure that only lead-safe paints are sold in the market as the country has already phased out lead-containing decorative paints in December 2016 and lead-containing industrial paints in December 2019. Further efforts are needed to rid the market of non-compliant paint products such as those coming from overseas,” said PAPM President Derrick Tan.

Exposure to lead, the groups pointed out, can seriously damage the brain.

When a young child is exposed to lead, children are more likely to have difficulties in school and engage in impulsive and violent behavior. Lead exposure in young children is also linked to increased rates of hyperactivity, inattentiveness, failure to graduate from high school, conduct disorder, juvenile delinquency, drug use and incarceration. Lead exposure impacts on children continue throughout life and have a long-term impact on a child’s work performance and are related to decreased economic success.

“Lead paint is a major source of childhood lead exposure affecting large numbers of children in the world. To protect children’s health, governments and other stakeholders across the globe, including the Philippines, are taking measures to ban lead in all paints,” said Dr. Sara Brosché, IPEN's Global Lead Paint Elimination Campaign manager.

According to the PAPM, which brings together 72 paint manufacturers and raw materials suppliers, safe and cost-effective substitutes to lead additives are available for all paint categories, making the elimination of lead paint in the Philippines and globally a feasible goal. To assure consumers that their paint products comply with the country’s lead paint law, three leading paint companies in the Philippines have even gone beyond what the regulation requires by successfully obtaining third-party Lead Safe Paint® certification.


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