4 March 2024, Quezon City.  Aside from mercury-containing skin-lightening products, online shopping platforms are also rife with imported paint products with undisclosed concentrations of lead in brazen violation of the country’s national ban on such products.

Coinciding with the 3.3. online shopping sales yesterday, the toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition monitored and found dozens of product listings for spray paint brands with one or more colors containing lead above the 90 parts per million (ppm) as confirmed by laboratory tests commissioned by the group.

It will be recalled that DENR A.O. 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order (CCO) for lead and lead compounds, established a maximum total limit of 90 ppm for lead, a chemical now banned in paint manufacturing to protect people’s health, especially the health of children and other vulnerable groups, from multiple harms caused by lead exposure.

The said regulation, which received the coveted 2021 Future Policy Award (special category on lead in paint), phased out lead-containing decorative and industrial paints following a three-year phase-out period (2013-2016) for the former and a longer six-year transition (2013-2019) for the latter.

Among the leaded paints sold online are Anton (grass green, refrigerator green, Gongcheng orange-red, Honda red, medium yellow), Best Drive Extreme One (deep green, grass green, orange-red, lemon yellow), Boston (orange-red), Colorz Chisai (fresh green, lemon yellow), F1 (leaf green, fluorescent orange yellow, medium yellow), Getsun (green, bright red, art yellow), Haifei (light green, Jialing red, art yellow), King Sfon (cream, gold, grass green, orange, orange-red, silver red, lemon yellow, orange-yellow, yellow), and Koby spray paints (fresh green, deep red, Mars red, orange-red, Suzuki red, canary yellow, deep yellow, medium yellow).

Also sold online are leaded Korona (grass green, rose pink, signal red, orange, violet, yellow), MKT (art yellow), Nikko (apple green, grass green, green, orange, medium yellow, yellow), One Take (green, dark green, medium gree), Sanvo (grass green, orange, yellow), Silvestre (high temp yellow), Standard (gem green, leaf green, light green, post green, art yellow, deep yellow, orange yellow), Tiger  (grass green, bright red, lemon yellow), Top Tibay (fresh green, canary yellow, medium yellow), Veslee (grass green, lemon yellow), and Yandy spray paints (apple green, blackish green, fresh green, grass green, leaf green, jade green, Shifeng green, Jialing red, Suzuki red, canary yellow, deep yellow, medium yellow, orange yellow, violet).

Except for a handful, the above paints gave no information about their lead content and provided no lead paint hazard warning for the guidance of buyers and users.  Also, some of the products falsely carried the “no Pb” (Pb is the chemical symbol for lead) pictogram even though they contain violative levels of lead.

Most of these products also provided no details about their foreign manufacturer and/or local distributor, which is vital so consumers, as well as regulators, know whom to contact if they have any complaints or questions.

Not one of these violative paints is produced or distributed by companies belonging to the Philippine Paint and Coatings Association, Inc. (PPCAI), a partner of the EcoWaste Coalition in advancing the lead paint ban.

As stated by the World Health Organization (WHO), “lead exposure can have serious consequences for the health of children. In particular, lead can affect children’s brain development, resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioral changes such as reduced attention span and increased antisocial behavior, and reduced educational attainment.”

WHO also warned, “Lead exposure also causes anemia, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs.” Lead belongs to WHO’s list of 10 chemicals or groups of chemicals of major public health concern along with asbestos, arsenic, benzene, cadmium, dioxins and dioxin-like substances, mercury, air pollutants, inadequate or excess fluoride, and highly hazardous pesticides.

As part of its vision towards a zero waste and toxics-free society, the EcoWaste Coalition is campaigning to make online shopping safe from hazardous chemicals and products containing them that can put human health and the ecosystems at risk.