24 April 2023, Quezon City. The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has issued an Advisory reiterating the mandatory use of lead-safe paints by all local government units (LGUs) in the Philippines.
Through an Advisory signed by Undersecretary for Local Government Marlo Iringan, the DILG reaffirmed its call on local officials “to continue their commitment and advance their initiatives to further strengthen the ban on lead-containing architectural, decorative, household, and industrial paints.”
To recall, the DILG five years ago issued Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2018-26 “advocating the mandatory procurement of lead-safe paints and the enactment of progressive legislation to that effect by LGUs” in line with Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order No. 2013-24 prohibiting lead in the manufacture of paints and similar surface coatings.
Based on the compliance monitoring conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition and International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), while there have been significant developments since the issuance of DENR AO No. 2013-24 and DILG MC No. 2018-26, and the lapse of the six-year phase-out period for lead-containing paints, non-compliant products are still widely available in the market, specifically those imported from other countries.
“Accordingly, this Department acknowledges the necessity of furthering the implementation and dissemination of the subject MC to ensure the LGUs’ continuous cooperation and compliance therewith and sustain the gains of the campaign,” the Advisory said.
“Similarly, LGUs are urged to extend and bolster their initiatives to control the sale of lead-based paints and other similar coatings. This, notwithstanding the noteworthy decrease of lead-based paints in the market, affirms that the campaign is effective and feasible, and the paint and coatings industry is committed to adhering to the regulation,” the Advisory stated.
Towards this, the DILG, pursuant to MC No. 2018-26, enjoined all Provincial Governors, City, and Municipal Mayors, and Punong Barangays to:
“1. Adopt best practices and design and implement a “Lead-Safe Paint Procurement Policy” to ensure that LGUs adopt green procurement policies and incorporate environmental considerations into their procurement processes;
2. Ensure compliance with Department of Education (DepEd) Order No. 4, s.2017, on the mandatory use of lead-safe paints in all schools and the observance of proper lead paint abatement and removal to avoid the generation and dispersion of lead-containing dust;
3. In accordance with the previous items, consider utilizing locally-produced paint products that meet the government’s regulatory standards, as well as the standards under the Lead Safe Paint® Certification Program of IPEN;
4. Promote compliance with other prohibited uses of lead as specified under DENR AO No. 2013-24, such as the prohibition on the use of lead in the manufacturing and distribution process of food and beverage packaging, cosmetics, learning materials, school supplies, toys, and other children’s products, including indoor and outdoor play equipment;
5. Promote industrial compliance with chemical control policies and lead-free production practices, as well as public awareness on the debilitating impacts of lead and lead compounds on human health and the environment through information, education, and communication (IEC) initiatives;
6. Cooperate with concerned national government agencies regarding compliance with and implementation of established product recall mechanisms and protocols; and,
7. Participate in the annual celebration of International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, an initiative of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint (Lead Paint Alliance) jointly led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), every last week of October of each year.
Additionally, DILG’s Regional Directors were directed to submit a report to the Bureau of Local Government Supervision (BLGS) not later than May 15, 2023 on the initiatives and good practices of LGUs with regard to MC No. 2018-26, such as, but not limited to the following: 1) policies and ordinances enacted; 2) inspection of concerned establishments; 3) IEC materials distributed; and 4) orientations and seminars conducted.
Civil society groups led by the EcoWaste Coalition and IPEN commended the action taken by the DILG as this will certainly help in upholding the country’s ban on lead-containing paints. Other national government agencies were encouraged to follow suit to ensure that children, women of childbearing age, workers, and other vulnerable groups are protected against the harmful effects of lead exposure to paints, dust, and soil containing lead.