Lead poisoning causes irreversible health damage to women, children

Manila, (PNA) –Lead poisoning may cause adverse health effects to developing fetuses and young children which are irreversible and untreatable by modern medicine, experts warned on Wednesday.

Dr. Irma Makalinao, University of the Philippines (UP) professor of pharmacology and toxicology, made aired this warning in a press conference on the observance of the first “International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week” at the Max’s Restaurant in Quezon Memorial Circle, Diliman, Quezon City.

“More than the exposure of children, there is one important issue that has not been tackled yet and that is the exposure of lead to pregnant and lactating women,” Dr. Makalinao said

Children that will be born may develop early onset of hypertension depending on the length of time pregnant women are exposed to lead because of the changes on how their muscles, blood vessels and the heart will develop, according to the professor.

“There is no safe level of lead for women and children,” she added.

Lead affects brain development in children resulting in reduced IQ (Intelligence Quotient); behavioral changes such as shortening of attention span and increased anti-social behavior; and reduced educational attainment, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Adults are at increased risk of kidney disease and raised blood pressure.

At the same press conference, the Eco-waste Coalition has released the results of its European Union-funded study which showed that some of the household paints that are being sold in the country contain dangerous levels of lead.

Out of the 122 household paints that were sampled, 75 or 61 percent were found to have exceeded 90 parts per million (ppm), which is the US regulatory threshold for lead in paint and surface coatings.

Of these 75 household paints that exceeded the proposed 90 ppm threshold, 48 were found to have high levels of lead greater than 10,000 ppm, including four products with extremely high lead content above 100,000 ppm.

The average lead concentration of the sampled paints is 18,500 ppm, 206 times greater than the proposed regulatory standard limit of 90 ppm.

“Our sampling results show that paints in the Philippines contain brain-damaging lead and provide yet another strong basis for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to approve and enforce the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds (CCO) at once. Such action will complement and even hasten the ongoing initiatives by the paint industry and the civil society to push for non-lead paint production, certification, and labeling,” said Jeiel Guarino, Policy and Communications Officer of the Ecowaste’s Lead Paint Elimination Project.

The CCO will impose a mandatory total lead limit of 90 ppm for all paints and a phase-out its use within three years for architectural, decorative and household paints, and six years for industrial paints including automotive and aviation paints.