How to have a toxic-free, waste-free Brigada Eskwela

May. 28, 2016
BRIGADA ESKWELA. Parents and guardians clean one of Davao City’s public elementary school, Monday, in preparation for the June opening. According to the Department of Education, 45,000 public primary and secondary schools expect to raise PHP 2 Billion (USD 0.05B) for repairs and improvements. ( photo by Medel V. Hernani)

BRIGADA ESKWELA. In this photo, taken in 2012, parents and guardians clean one of Davao City’s public elementary schools in preparation for the opening of classes. ( file photo by Medel V. Hernani)

DAVAO CITY — The annual Brigada Eskwela will be held on Monday, May 30 and an environmental group gave tips on how to conduct the annual school beautification.

The EcoWAste Coalition reminded the participants for cleaning up and beautification of schools to ensure that wastes collected from the week-long clean-up drive are not burned and that lead-free paints are solely used for school renovations.

“Burnish trash and using leaded paint must be avoided all the time as these practices can contaminate the school environment with health-damaging substances,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

The group reminded school principals, teachers and the general public that open burning is prohibited under the Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and that the use of lead-free paints is prescribed under the Department of Education Memorandum No. 85, Series of 2016.

The group said burning of discards discharges microscopic toxins that can trigger headaches, cause eye, throat and skin irritation, weaken respiratory functions, cause asthma and heart attacks, bring about reproductive disorders, and even result in cancers.

“Coating school walls, doors, windows, chairs, tables and other fixtures with leaded  paints, creates a lead poisoning hazard as the painted surfaces will chip and deteriorate over time, dispersing lead-containing paint flake and dust that can enter the human body via ingestion or inhalation,” the group added.

Dizon also reminded the public that health experts have cautioned the irreversible and untreatable effect on the brain of chronic and low-level exposure to lead.

The group added that disturbing lead painted surfaces through dry sanding or dry scraping will create enormous amounts of lead dust and should also be avoided.

Dizon said participants may recycle or reuse the non-biodegradable discards and to compost the biodegradable discards.

The group offered the following tips towards a waste-free and toxic-free Brigada Eskwela:

1. Opt for reusable or recyclable containers for volunteers’ drinks and foods to reduce trash.

2.  Separate discards at source to keep the volume of residual trash to the minimum.

3.  Reuse, recycle and compost discards instead of burning them.

4.  Do not dispose of busted mercury-containing fluorescent lamps in ordinary trash.

5. Use safer cleaning agents and avoid hazardous ones such as muriatic acid, oxalic acid and dichlorobenzene.

6.  Apply lead-free paints for school interiors, exteriors, furniture and fixtures.

7. Avoid dry sanding or dry scraping painted surfaces that might contain lead so as not to disperse lead dust into the surroundings.

8.  Keep children and pregnant women out of the work area (lead is very hazardous to unborn children).

9. Thoroughly wash hands with soap and water before meals and after the work is done.

10. After a repainting job, change clothes before going home, set aside in a sealed reusable bag and wash separately.

The Brigada Eskwela will end on June 4, 2016. (

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