Monday, May 16, 2011

‘Brigada Eskwela’: A clean sweep

As students, teachers and parents get ready for school, a toxic watchdog calls for a pollution-free cleanup and repair of school facilities in line with the observance of National Schools Maintenance Week, May 23 to 28, spearheaded by the Department of Education.

As the Brigada Eskwela volunteers prepare to roll up their sleeves, EcoWaste gives this friendly reminder: “The open burning of discards, the unsafe removal of lead paint, and the application of lead-added paint during the cleanup drive are polluting activities that must be avoided.”

In 2006, a health study found 21 percent of children tested in the Visayas for blood lead levels (BLL) with lead up to 20 micrograms per deciliter in their blood, which exceeds the allowable limit of 10 mcg/dcl. Conducted by University of the Philippines health economist Dr. Orville Solon and other local and international collaborators, the study identified paint chips as one of the multiple possible sources of lead exposure for the said children.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that lead poisoning is especially harmful to the developing brains of fetuses and young children as well as to pregnant women. Says WHO, “Too much lead can damage the nervous and reproductive systems and the kidneys, and can cause high blood pressure and anemia. High blood lead levels in children can cause consequences, which may be irreversible, including learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and mental retardation. At very high levels, lead can cause convulsions, coma, and death.”

So, lead us not into danger from lead.


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