Why school buses have to use lead-safe yellow paints?

As the Philippines marks school opening this June, operators of school buses are urged to use safe automotive paints for vehicles that transport children.

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Non-profit environmental health organization EcoWaste Coalition issued an appeal to public utility vehicle owners, including buses, jeepneys, pedicabs and tricycles that ferry children from their homes to schools, to opt for lead-safe paints.

The toxics-free advocacy group warned school bus operators against using lead-containing automotive paints for their bus fleet because “young children are highly prone to lead exposure that can have a lifelong impact on their growth, development and future.”

Previous paint studies conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition indicate dangerously high concentrations of lead in yellow – the official color of school buses – and other brightly colored solvent-based paints.

Although the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds has imposed a six-year phase-out period ending in December 2019 for lead-containing paints for industrial applications, including car paints, EcoWaste cautions that some automotive paints on store shelves may still contain lead-based pigments, driers and anti-corrosives and can be a health hazard, especially when lead painted surfaces have started to chip.

“It is very important for school transportation operators to demand for lead-safe paints from paint dealers to safeguard workers’ and children’s health. Moreover, painting and repainting jobs must be done properly to prevent car paint dust from spreading,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“With their health and safety in mind, society must ensure that preventable sources of lead exposure such as lead-containing paints are controlled and eventually eliminated,” the group insisted.

To mainstream the use of unleaded paints in school buses and other public road transportation vehicles, the EcoWaste Coalition will request the Department of Transportation to stipulate the use of lead-safe automotive paints in the guidelines on the issuance of franchises for public transportation routes and services.

The EcoWaste Coalition will further reach out to schools and school bus service operators to obtain their support for the group’s advocacy for lead-safe paint.

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