Paint brushes used on bbq?-A A +A
Friday, July 26, 2013
THE Cebu City Council wants the City Health Department (CHD) to thoroughly inspect paint brushes in the city that are used as “basting brushes” in restaurants, food stalls and barbecue stalls along the road.
The call came after two environment groups detected high levels of lead in paint brushes, making their use for food applications unsafe.
The Philippine Earth Justice Center Inc. (PEJC) and EcoWaste Coalition, after conducting the third in a series of toxic chemicals testing in Cebu City, found that barbecue vendors in Carbon and Larsian use paint brushes on the food that they sell.
Paint brushes, they said, are not the right tools for basting sauce on meat because they contain a high amount of the toxic chemical called lead.
The groups tested 19 paint brushes for toxic chemicals as part of their effort to prove that those sold in Cebu contain a safe amount of lead.
The brushes sold in six hardware stores in Cebu City cost between P5 and P119.
The result of the tests showed that of the 19 brushes, 16 were found to contain lead.
The lead content of these brushes reached between 309 ppm (parts per million) and 10,500 ppm, which the groups said are way above the US limit of 90 ppm for lead in paint and surface coatings.
In a statement, EcoWaste Coalition Project Protect head Thony Dizon said the results of the test showed that paint brushes used for greasing barbecue contain high amounts of lead.
“This raises the possibility of basting sauce being contaminated by lead coming from paint brushes, especially if the brushes started to flake because of continued use,” he said.
In an interview, stall caretaker Orce Manoza told Sun.Star Cebu that he only uses a proper basting brush for the barbecue he cooks.
A former construction worker said he could tell whether a paint brush is used or not.
He said paint brushes should only be used to apply paint and not for food preparation.
PEJC co-founder Gloria Estenzo-Ramos said that with the results of the tests, government officials should focus on informing the public about the hazards of misusing products that contain lead.
“We also hope our findings will induce hardware stores to demand lead-safe paint and paint brushes from their suppliers to safeguard public health,” said Estenzo-Ramos in a statement.
The groups cited the World Health Organization that lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems, including neurological, gastrointesyinal, cardiovascular, among others.
Three samples of Mayon brush has non-detectable lead level while the paint brushes that contained lead did not have proper labels and no warning that these should not be used for food.
They recommend using improvised brushes made of banana pandan and tanglad leaves.
In an approved resolution, City Councilors Alvin Dizon and Mary Ann delos Santos said that lead is a chemical element, which is regarded as a heavy metal and at certain degrees can cause grave effects on the public health.
“It is a poisonous substance as it damages the nervous system and causes brain disorders making it a developmental and reproductive toxin,” they said.
“We strongly urged CHD to conduct thorough inspections of paint brushes used in restaurants, food stalls and barbecue vendors to ensure that these paint brushes are lead-free and not hazardous to the health and the well-being of innocent consumers,” they added.
Dizon and delos Santos said CHD’s inspection should be done together with the council’s committee on health, hospital services and sanitation, headed by Councilor Lea Japson.
In the same resolution, Dizon and delos Santos are asking hardware stores, as suggested by the Eco Waste Coalition, to require their suppliers to make lead-free and non-toxic paint brushes.
On the request of the environment group for the council to craft an ordinance banning the use of paint brushes for food applications, Dizon said he is willing to author it together with Councilor Nida Cabrera, who is the head of the committee on environment.
“An ordinance is proper to ensure strict compliance,” he said. (Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 26, 2013.