In time for the Christmas food preparation before the revelry, EcoWaste Coalition warned the public not to use paint brushes for application of basting sauce on barbecue and grilled meat. It confirmed the handles of some paint brushes contain high levels of lead way above the threshold limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) for lead in paint.
In a chemical screening of 20 paint brushes on December 22 and 23 priced for P10 to P4 each from hardware and general merchandise stores in Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila, Pasay and Quezon cities showed exceedingly high lead levels.
The group used a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device to identify and quantify toxic metals such as lead on the mostly yellow paint coatings of the brush handles.
Out of 20 samples, 17 had lead content ranging from 329 to 18,300 ppm. Significant amounts of arsenic, cadmium, chromium and mercury were also found in most of these 17 samples.
The top 10 paint brushes with the highest lead content are Lotus with 18,300 ppm, Dragon Fly with14,900 ppm, an unbranded brush with 10,100 ppm, Hippo with 10,000 ppm, Camel with 9,643 ppm, 2B with 9,241 ppm, Butterfly with 8,941 ppm, Croco with 8,152 ppm, Yuko with 6,296 and MMT with 5,991 ppm.
Instead of paint brushes, it is suggested food grade basting or pastry brushes or, if these are not available, improvised mops made from banana, lemon grass or pandan leaves will serve the purpose.