300 Lapu kids join drive for lead-free paint

AN environmental group is calling on school administrators and teachers to avoid using paint that contains lead, a highly toxic chemical.

The EcoWaste Coalition went to a school in Lapu-Lapu City yesterday morning along with environmentalists from 10 other countries to raise awareness about the harmful effects of paint with lead content on children.

Some 300 pupils of the Marigondon Elementary School participated in an activity organized by the group and IPEN, a global society network of advocates against lead and other toxic chemicals.

‘No to lead exposure’

They unveiled a huge banner that read: “Lead-Free Kids for Healthy Future” and joined the symbolic palm printing using lead-free latex paint.

“We are here to raise awareness among students and teachers about the effects of lead exposure to children,”said Jeiel Guarino, policy and communications officer of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Lead Paint Elimination Project.

According to IPEN, which released a booklet titled “Eliminate Lead Paint: Protect Children’s Health,” lead can damage a child’s biological systems once it enters the body through ingestion or inhalation.

IPEN stands for International POPS (Persistent Organic Pollutants) Elimination Network.

Lead can damage a child’s nervous system, including the brain, as the blood system, kidneys and the skeleton.

Last December, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources released an order prohibiting the use of lead and lead compounds in the manufacturing of packaging for food and drink, toys, school supplies and other consumer products.

Wash hands always

Guarino, in an interview with reporters, said school officials and teachers should use water-based paint and acrylic or latex paint.

“We are also encouraging the parents to teach their children the importance of making hand-washing a habit,” he said, adding that children in school are often exposed to lead that gets mixed with the dust.

Reynaldo Velos, school principal, assured the school’s commitment to the EcoWaste Coalition’s campaign for lead-free school environment.

“It’s time for schools to be enlightened about the hazardous effects of lead,” he

Yesterday’s activity was part of the five-day Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project Workshop in Cebu that started last Monday.

The workshop has 30 participants from Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Czech Republic, Sweden and the U.S.

The Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project, a three-year project funded by the European Union, is being implemented in the five Asian countries.
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