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Public warned vs use of paint brushes for BBQ


brush bbq

ENVIRONMENTAL watchdog Ecowaste Coalition yesterday said paint brushes being used to coat or rub barbecue meat may contain lead, a hazardous chemical.

During the launch of its re­port “Get the Lead Out of Paint Brushes”, EcoWaste revealed the presence of dangerously high levels of lead in non-food grade brushes used for food preparations.

“The use of paint brushes, which are non-food grade uten­sils, may pose a lead contami­nation risk, especially when the lead painted handle has started to crumble due to repeated use. The chalking, chipping or peel­ing lead paint on the handle of these brushes may get onto the sauce, butter, glaze or oil that is applied on food and into some­one’s mouth,” explained Thony Dizon, chemical safety cam­paigner of EcoWaste Coalition.

Instead of paint brushes, Que­zon City Councilor Victor Ferrer Jr. advised caterers, owners of restaurants, eateries and even the city hall’s canteens to use banana leaves to brush sauce on their barbecues.

“It is very alarming. Even fine dining places should be aware of this,’’ Ferrer said.

EcoWaste concurred with Fer­rer, saying if food grade basting or pastry brushes are not af­fordable or available, ingenious food preparers can opt for DIY (do-it-yourself) mops made out of banana, lemon grass or pan­dan leaves.

“Prevention is better than cure, especially when you are dealing with toxic metals like lead, which has no safe thresh­old for exposure,” said Dr. Erle Castillo, toxicologist at Medical Center Manila and member of the Philippine Society for Clinical and Occupational Toxicology.

From August 25 to 27, this year, the group purchased a to­tal of 75 branded and generic paint brushes from 40 hardware stores, home improvement cen­ters and other retailers in eight cities in Metro Manila.

The samples representing 58 brands and costing P10 to P164.75 each were screened for toxic metals, particularly lead, using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device.

The XRF screening showed 52 of the 75 paint brushes (69 percent) with mostly yellow painted handles had high lead content exceeding the regula­tory limit of 90 parts per mil­lion (ppm) as per Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administra­tive Order (A.O.) 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, the presence of lead on the painted handles of the analyzed paint brushes pointed to an obvious breach of the country’s landmark regulation banning lead in paints.

With the phase-out of lead-containing decorative paints, it would only be logical that paint­ing implements such as brush­es are also devoid of lead, the group said. (Chito Chavez)