Friday, May 13, 2011

Keep school clean-up pollution-free – EcoWaste

As the Department of Education (DepEd) gears up for “Brigada Eskwela,” the annual back-to-school clean-up, green advocates appealed to the clean-up volunteers to make sure that the activity does not cause further pollution.

EcoWaste Coalition issued the reminder as parents, students, and other participants get ready for the DepEd-initiated “National Schools Maintenance Week” from May 23 to 28.

The group pointed out that open burning of discards, unsafe removal of lead paint and application of lead-added paint during the cleanup drive are polluting activities that must be avoided.

EcoWaste warned that open burning is banned under the Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, because it can release dozens of pollutants into the air including dioxin, a proven human carcinogen.

Meanwhile, sanding or scraping lead paint from flaking doors, walls, ceilings and windows will scatter dust containing lead, a neurotoxin that attacks the brain and the nervous system, it added.

If ingested or inhaled by children, lead-laden paint chips cause irreparable health problems, EcoWaste pointed out.

Citing a health study released in 2006, the group noted that 21 percent of children tested in the Visayas for blood lead levels (BLL) were found to have lead up to 20 micrograms per deciliter in their blood, which exceeds the allowable limit of 10 mcg/dcl.

Another study conducted by University of the Philippines health economist Dr. Orville Solon and other local and international collaborators identified paint chips as one of the “multiple possible sources of lead exposure” for children.

Citing information from the World Health Organization (WHO), EcoWaste warned that lead poisoning can cause serious health problems, especially to the developing brains of fetuses and young children and to pregnant women.

According to the WHO, "too much lead can damage the nervous and reproductive systems and the kidneys, and can cause high blood pressure and anemia. Lead accumulates in the bones and lead poisoning may be diagnosed from a blue line around the gums."

WHO also said lead interferes with the metabolism of calcium and Vitamin D.

“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,” WHO said.

To minimize children's exposure to lead-containing paint and dust, EcoWaste asked "Brigada Eskwela" organizers, volunteers and donors to shun lead-dispersing cleanup practices, and to ensure that school facilities are only painted with certified lead-free paint.

“We request concerned citizens to support the cleanup and repair of our classrooms, libraries, canteens and other school amenities such as activity areas and waiting sheds in a way that will not cause further pollution,” EcoWaste President Roy Alvarez said


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