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Health and Wellness

EcoWaste Coalition: Toxic Lead Lurks in China-Made Spray Paints

One Take Whale Fall spray paint

10 June 2023, Quezon City. The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition has discovered two more imported spray paints with very high levels of lead, a hazardous chemical linked to widespread injury to human health, including damage to the brain and the nervous system.

As part of its continuing campaign to promote awareness and compliance to the country’s national lead paint ban, the group screened for lead three variants of 600 ml. One Take Whale Fall spray paints that it purchased from an online dealer for P310 each. The products are manufactured by Unique (Lufeng) Tech. Co. Ltd. based in China.

The yellow variant passed the 90 parts per million (ppm) maximum limit for lead in paints, but the dark green and the medium green variants were found to contain high concentrations of lead measured at 56,300 ppm and 41,480 ppm, respectively. A handheld Olympus Vanta M Series X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device was used to measure the total lead content of the samples.

“These spray paints are in violation of DENR A.O. 2013-24, which bans the use of lead in the production of paints and sets a stringent limit on lead content in paints to not over 90 ppm, the strictest legal limit in the world,” said Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition, noting that the ban also applies to imported paints. “The availability of non-compliant paint products such as spray paints sourced from abroad justifies sustained market monitoring to keep compliance with the regulation in check and to protect the public from a preventable source of lead exposure.”

DENR A.O. 2013-24, also known as the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, also provided for a scheduled phase-out of lead-containing decorative and industrial paints, which ended in December 2016 and December 2019, respectively.

“The continued discovery of lead-containing spray paints sold in the market poses high public health risk as these products can be used in home, school, and play environments where children get exposed to. The developing brain of young children is more vulnerable to lead neurotoxicity than the mature brain of adults making them suffer from lifelong, irreversible, lead-induced neurological impairments and IQ deficits,” said Jeiel Guarino, Global Lead Paint Elimination Campaigner, International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN). “Health experts said there is no known safe threshold for lead exposure in young children as even low-dose poisoning can negatively affect a child’s prospects.”

One Take Whale Fall spray paint

While One Take Whale Fall carries a variety of precautionary statements albeit in extremely tiny prints, nothing was mentioned about its lead content. For example, as written on the label, the product “contains n-butyl acetate, acetone and ethyl acetate,” which “may affect the brain or nervous system causing dizziness, headache or nausea.” It also “contains solvents which can cause permanent brain and nervous system damage,” the label says. It further warns “this product contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.”

The non-mention of lead and its hazards on the product label is very concerning as lead is a potent neurotoxin, the EcoWaste Coalition observed. Lead is known to cause damage to the brain and the nervous system, reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), slowed growth and development, learning, hearing and speech difficulties, and behavioral problems.

As stated by the World Health Organization (WHO), “lead exposure also causes anaemia, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs.”

Aside from One Take Whale Fall, the EcoWaste Coalition has also tracked the online sale of other spray paint brands with one or more color variants containing lead, including Best Drive, Boston, Colorz, F1, Getsun, Haifei, King Sfon, Koby, Korona, MKT, Silvestre, Sinag, Standard, and Yandy.

“Online sellers should make it a point to ask for a verifiable certificate of analysis from their suppliers indicating a product’s conformity to the 90 ppm lead content limit, and to make such proof of compliance available to their customers,” the EcoWaste Coalition suggested.

“Online shopping platforms should require sellers of paint products to abide by the country’s lead paint ban, and ensure that their facilities are not used to sell violative products that can contribute to health-damaging lead exposure among children and other vulnerable groups such as women and workers,” the EcoWaste Coalition further said.



Lead poisoning

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