The International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week was observed last week with special focus on the global efforts to eliminate leaded paint, a major source of childhood lead exposure.

One aspect that I would like to highlight in my column today is consumer access to paint product information, or the lack of it. As we know, consumers have the right to be provided with factual information, as well as to be protected against dishonest or misleading advertising or labeling.

As specified in Republic Act No. 7394, or the Consumer Act of the Philippines, and the Philippine National Standards, consumer products sold in the country, whether manufactured here or abroad, must comply with the necessary labeling requirements, including the correct and registered trade name or brand name; registered trademark; registered business name and address of the manufacturer, importer, or re-packer; general make or active ingredients; net weight; and country of manufacture if imported.

In the case of paint products, it is important for consumers to have easy access to basic information such as the product’s manufacturing date and batch number, which should be clearly indicated on the paint can label. If provided in a comprehensible and uniform manner, the consumer can easily avoid old stocks that may still contain lead.

As paint products have a long shelf life, lead-containing paints that were manufactured before the phase-out deadlines in 2016 and 2019 may still be stockpiled in warehouses or sitting on store shelves. This is highly possible as paint companies were not compelled to take back old lead-containing products from the market before the deadlines lapsed. Lead-containing architectural paints used for painting homes, schools and similar structures were phased out effective December 31, 2016, while lead-containing paints for industrial uses were phased out more recently on December 31, 2019.

Another essential labeling information that a paint product should have is the information about its lead content, which should not exceed the regulatory limit of 90 parts per million (this limit applies to all types of paints). Such information will help consumers in differentiating products that conform or not with the country’s lead paint regulation.

An analytical studies conducted by experts show, most of the paint products they bought and submitted to the laboratory for lead content analysis lack sufficient information on their labels that can assist consumers in identifying paints with lead levels below the 90 ppm limit. The groups have published lead paint reports in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2020 and 2021. In their latest study on “Lead in Solvent-Based Industrial Paints Sold in the Philippines[i]” released last October 24, only five out of 68 samples provided information about lead on their labels.

It’s also very important that product claims such as “lead-free,” “lead-safe,” “no lead added” or “zero lead” must be truthful and based on third-party certification.

Paint can labels must also contain the necessary health warnings, particularly on precautions that should be applied to prevent the possible creation of lead dust during painting, renovation or repair activities. Consumers need to be alerted about the dangers of lead dust when surfaces coated with lead paint are disturbed. Paint products should contain the following precautionary statement: “Disturbing lead paint creates hazardous dust that is harmful to children, pregnant women and workers.”

As most precautionary statements are often written in fine print, concerned paint companies may provide consumers with supplementary leaflets about lead dust hazards and the practical ways of preventing the formation of lead-contaminated dust. Better still companies can embark on other creative means such as the use of social media platforms to raise public awareness on preventive steps to avoid lead dust hazards.

With the conclusion of the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week last October 30, I hope stakeholders’ efforts to make lead paint history will further continue and get supported. The world has successfully phased out leaded petrol as announced last month by the United Nations Environment Programme following a 19-year campaign by UNEP and its partners. The global phase-out of leaded paints should come next!

Atty. Vic Dimagiba

President, Laban Konsyumer Inc.

Email at

Source: Manila Bulletin (