THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has banned the use of lead in local production of food packaging, paints, toys, and other consumer products.
In a statement, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said that the government is strengthening its control on the use of lead and its compounds in the local production of consumer products, as well as its importation, sale, distribution and disposal following the issuance of a Chemical Control Order (CCO) for lead and lead compounds.
“The CCO for Lead and Lead Compounds is a result of numerous consultations with various stakeholders with the intention of reducing unreasonable risks and injuries to people as a result of their exposure to the chemical as well its negative impact on the environment,” Paje said.
He added the order was in support of the global action for the elimination of lead in paints.
Lead is a heavy metal and highly toxic that exposure to it or ingestion can severely damage the nervous system. The chemical can also affect the development of children as well as the cardiovascular, reproductive and immune systems; impair the kidneys; and could also cause hearing loss and tooth decay.
The CCO for lead strictly prohibits the use of lead and lead compounds in the local manufacture of packaging for food and drink, toys, school supplies, cosmetics, water pipes and other consumer products.
It also reiterates the ban on the use lead as fuel additive.
“With the CCO, existing prohibitions by other agencies of the government governing the use of lead and lead compounds in various consumer products are further strengthened,” he said.
The order has also set the standard content of lead for locally produced paints at 90 parts per million (ppm), as well as the timeframe for the strict implementation of the standard which starts in 2016 for paints intended for architectural, decorative, household applications while paints for industrial applications, starts in 2019.
“The reason for setting the implementation phase for paints is to enable our paint industry to shift to lead-free production. There is now a global action for the elimination of lead in paints, and certainly this CCO is our way of showing our oneness with this advocacy,” Paje stressed.
The DENR chief added that the new regulation on lead is consistent with Republic Act No. 6969, otherwise known as the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990, as it also addresses the transport and treatment of lead-containing wastes prior to disposal.
RA 6969 was issued by the government in response to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.
“Since lead is a toxic substance, the regulation covers not only the production process, but starts at the importation of the chemical to transport, recycling and even up to disposal of lead-containing wastes,” Paje said.
“Thus, the order also covers not only the manufacturers or industrial users but also the importers, distributors, recyclers, as well as the waste service providers like the transporters, waste treaters and disposers,” he added.
As such, the DENR chief said that persons or entities involved in importation, manufacture, distribution, use, recycling, treatment, storage and disposal of lead and lead compounds, whether newly involved or with existing compliance certificates, are required to register with the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).
Applicants are also required to provide a Safety Data Sheet to ensure the environmentally sound management of the chemicals.
The DAO details requirements for labeling, manufacturing and training, storage, transport, treatment and disposal of lead and lead-containing materials.
To ensure proper implementation of the new policy, the DENR will conduct capability building and continuous consultations and discussions with its partner agencies under the Departments of Health, Trade and Industry, and Finance; as well as the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers, the Ecological Waste Coalition, and International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) Philippines.
The order also tasks the EMB to lead the development of standards or threshold limits relative to the other existing uses of lead, and to monitor compliance with these standards. Violators shall be subject to administrative and criminal sanctions relative to RA 6969 provisions. JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ