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Equipment in parks contain high levels of lead

An environmental watchdog has raised alarm over the alleged “dangerous” amount of lead on the playground equipment in two of the public parks in the city.

The EcoWaste Coalition said high levels of lead, a potent neurotoxin, have been discovered on the public play area at the Magsaysay and People’s Park here.

“The painted play equipment containing dangerous amounts of lead poses a serious lead poisoning risk for young children,” the group said in a statement released yesterday.

The discovery prompted the group to call for the “effective enforcement of the ban on lead in all paints, especially for applications that can expose children to lead contamination.”

The EcoWaste detected the lead-coated playground equipment using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) chemicals analyzer.

No lead was detected at the equipment inside the Osmeña Park at corner Pichon and C.M. Recto streets.

As part of their action, the group will formally write to the local government unit to notify them about the results and to suggest remedial actions, including replacing the lead-coated play equipment with lead-safe ones, to prevent childhood lead exposure.

“The high levels of lead detected in the paint of outdoor playground equipment are very worrisome and unacceptable,” said EcoWaste’s chemical safety campaigner Thony Dizon.

Dizon said the paint will deteriorate with repeated use and exposure to sun and rain. This will cause the paint to peel and get into the dust and soil, which can be ingested by children through common hand-to-mouth behavior.

“The dangerous levels of lead detected on mostly old multi-coated play equipment should prompt the authorities into developing a national strategy and program addressing the toxic legacy of lead paint, especially exposed lead paint in places where children live, study and play,” added Manny Calonzo, an EcoWaste adviser.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), lead exposure affects human health, especially to children. “There is no known level of lead exposure without harmful effects. Even low levels of lead exposure may cause lifelong health problems.”

“Lead is especially dangerous to children’s developing brains and can cause reduced intelligence quotient (IQ) and attention span, impaired learning ability, and increased risk of behavioral problems. These health impacts also have significant economic costs to countries,” the WHO said.

The EcoWaste sounded the alarm over lead-painted play equipment as the UN-backed International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action is observed from Oct. 20-26, which focuses on eliminating lead paint.

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