Jul 202013
With Congress set to open in July 22, an environmental group pushing for amendments to the Flag Law that would outlaw the use of paint with lead and other toxic chemicals in making flags and other national symbols.

The EcoWaste Coalition called for such amendments after finding several flag-based souvenir items sold in Quiapo (Manila) and Cubao (Quezon City) contained lead, arsenic, cadmium, antimony and chromium last June.

“(W)e find it apt that R.A. 8491, or the ‘Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines,’ be amended to prohibit the use of leaded paint and other hazardous materials in the making of our flag and other national symbols and in products featuring such symbols.  These revered symbols of our nationhood should be toxin-free, posing no risks to human health and the environment,” said group coordinator Aileen Lucero.

She chided the government for being slow in phasing out the use of leaded decorative paint, which she said is highly regulated in many countries.

RA 8491 promotes “reverence and respect” for “the flag, the anthem, and other national symbols which embody the national ideals and traditions and which express the principles of sovereignty and national solidarity.”

Independence day findings

The group’s call stemmed from an incident last June where it noted some souvenir items bearing images of the Philippine flag and Coat of Arms in time for Independence Day – such as metallic keyholders and pins – were found to contain toxic substances.

“The lead levels found on the paints used for the flag and coat of arms motifs of the souvenir articles we screened are among the highest we ever detected,” Lucero said.

Among the flag-based souvenir items with lead exceeding the US limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) for lead in paint and surface coatings were:

– shot glass with embossed flag (P69.75), 60,400 ppm
– silver key chain with vertical flag (P40), 58,100 ppm
– “National Coat of Arms” pin (P40), 37,800 ppm
– silver key chain with waving flag (P40), 34,100 ppm
– vertical flag pin (P40), 26,100 ppm
– round key chain with flag on a pole (P40), 14,800 ppm
– waving flag pin (P49.75), 13,400 ppm
– silver key chain with plastic-coated straight flag (P99.75), 12,100
– golden “National Coat of Arms” keychain (P100), 12,000 ppm
– horizontal straight flag pin (P49.75), 10,400 ppm
– white mug with waving flag (P100), 9,608 ppm
– golden flag key chain and bottle opener, (P55), 8,696 ppm

The group said the shot glass also had 6,251 ppm of arsenic, 2,889 ppm of cadmium, 365 ppm of antimony and 891 ppm of chromium.

It said exposure to lead may have health effects fetuses, infants and young children, including damage to the brain and the central nervous system, delayed mental and physical development, attention and learning problems and hearing difficulties.

Even adults can suffer miscarriages and other difficulties during pregnancy, reproductive disorders, high blood pressure, muscle joint paint and neurological problems when exposed to lead, it added. — LBG, GMA News

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