Pollution watchdog calls for chemical-free, waste-free Brigada Eskwela – Manila Bulletin
As different campuses prepare for the upcoming Brigada Eskwela 2022, a waste and pollution watchdog has urged principals, teachers, parents, students and community volunteers to ensure chemical-free driving and waste-free from the so-called annual “Bayanihan sa Paaralan”.
According to the EcoWaste Coalition, Brigada Eskwela provides an excellent opportunity to raise awareness and promote practical measures that will contribute to a healthy, toxic-free school environment.
“We encourage our school administrators and the rest of the school community to keep chemical safety and zero waste in mind as they prepare for and enthusiastically participate in the cleanup, repair and renovation of our public schools” , said EcoWaste Coalition. National Coordinator Aileen Lucero, as the group releases a set of guidelines for toxic-free and waste-free implementation.
To begin with, the group encouraged Brigada Eskwela participants to avoid the use of plastic sheeting, which may contain toxic cadmium and/or lead, for public announcements; simply opt for coconut or taffeta fabric for the streamers; and maximizing social media to reach school stakeholders. The introduction of single-use plastics into the school is also discouraged.
“Instead of disposables, bring food and water in reusable containers that can be safely washed and reused,” the group noted.
EcoWaste also highlighted the importance of good waste separation by encouraging participants to facilitate reuse, recycling or composting and to reduce the volume of waste to be disposed of.
“Compost biodegradable waste such as grass clippings and fallen leaves to produce a natural fertilizer or soil amendment for the school garden,” he added.
The group also reminded everyone to avoid burning, which is an illegal act.
“Say no to open burning, an illegal act that releases greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane and particulates, persistent organic pollutants like dioxins, heavy metals and other toxic chemicals “, did he declare.
The group also provided advice on the management of the school’s materials recovery facility.
“Makeover of the school’s material recovery facility; clean containers or dividers for properly labeled recyclable and compostable waste; assign a separate container for hazardous waste such as fluorescent lamps and other electronic waste,” he said. “Handle broken fluorescent lamps with care to avoid mercury spills; do not burn or mix these lamps with ordinary waste; store them properly and dispose of them as hazardous waste.
Regarding lamp selection, the EcoWaste advised, “Opt for mercury-free and more energy-efficient LED lamps and only choose those with ICC stickers or PS markings.”
It was also noted how important it is to choose the right cleaning products, especially to avoid hazardous substances.
“Choose safer cleaning products and avoid using dangerous cleaning agents that are corrosive to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract such as oxalic and muriatic acid; read product labels carefully, pay attention to hazard pictograms and warnings, and follow safety instructions,” he explained. “Do not mix bleach with other cleaning products such as ammonia and acids to avoid the formation of extremely harmful toxic fumes, which can poison or kill.”
The group also issued warnings about the use of dangerous paints, especially those containing lead.
“Use only lead-free paints, as required by DepEd DO 4, s.2017, for interiors, exteriors, furniture and school facilities, gymnasiums, play equipment and other school equipment” , he said, further noting that scraping is not advised. , especially when there are children and pregnant women in the area.
“Do not dry sand or dry scrape painted surfaces as they may contain lead and disperse lead dust into the environment; keep children and pregnant women out of the work area (lead is dangerous for babies in the womb),” he continued.
The guidelines also recommended using a damp mop or cloth to get rid of dust on floors, windows, window frames and sills, chairs and tables and other dusty surfaces.
Observing good hygiene is also important, the group maintained, reminding participants to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water before meals and after riding the Brigada Eskwela.
During this time, keeping the school premises smoke-free by not smoking or vaping is also strongly encouraged.
“Implementing the essential tips we have developed will surely help minimize waste and pollution, including avoiding toxic exposures, during Brigada Eskwela and beyond,” Lucero emphasized.
Next week, the EcoWaste Coalition will release another set of tips focused on reducing the risk from lead-based paint in schools.
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