Activists hold ‘zombie run’ vs lead poisoning

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TOXIC CAMPAIGN Participants of the Eco Waste Coalition’s ‘zombie run’ channel the undead of the ‘The Walking Dead’ television series at the Quezon Memorial Circle on Sunday. The coalition is urging companies to meet the December 31 deadline to phase out lead in paints. PHOTO BY RUY L. MARTINEZ

TOXIC CAMPAIGN Participants of the Eco Waste Coalition’s ‘zombie run’ channel the undead of the ‘The Walking Dead’ television series at the Quezon Memorial Circle on Sunday. The coalition is urging companies to meet the December 31 deadline to phase out lead in paints. PHOTO BY RUY L. MARTINEZ

The Eco Waste Coalition on Sunday held a “zombie run” at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City as part of the celebration of the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action.

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With only 10 weeks left before the total phase out of lead-containing architectural, decorative and household (ADH) paints takes effect on December 31, the coalition stressed the urgency of meeting the deadline set by the Chemical Control Order (CCO).

Kids who participated the event were dressed in “Walking Dead”-inspired clothing, mimicking the popular American television series about a zombie apocalypse. Before the zombie run, two theatrical performances were presented.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24 or the CCO prohibits the use of lead in the production of food packaging, paints, toys, and other consumer products because of the harmful effects of lead on people, especially children.

“Our major concern is IQ because lead can be deposited in the brain, resulting in slow performances of the child,” said Dr. Visitacion Antonio, toxicologist and pediatrician at East Avenue Medical Center.

Other ill effects of lead include anemia, stomachache, deficiency in hearing, stunted growth, convulsions and worse, death, Antonio said.

While there are no recorded lead-caused deaths in the country yet, Antonio urged parents to be more vigilant because low-dose exposure to lead does not manifest noticeable symptoms and is hard to diagnose.

Antonio also hopes that a policy will be formulated regulating battery-recycling companies through zoning, to prevent lead exposure. She also suggested that students be checked for lead exposure in schools, like the practice in the United States.

Aileen Lucero, Eco Waste national coordinator, said all major paint companies have applied with the lead-safe paint certification program to assure the public that their paints are lead-free.

But small and medium-sized enterprises have yet to comply with the guidelines, as they would need assistance from the government.

“Around 50 percent of them are still not observing and following the CCO,” Lucero said, but added she was optimistic these companies would be spurred to comply because of competition in the market.

She also emphasized the cost-effectiveness of lead-free products. “What would you do with a lead-containing paint used for your house if it will only wear off after two years and will harm your kids?” she asked.

Violators of the CCO will be stripped of their business permits starting next year.

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