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A sports complex in Manila that was used as a base for the production team of the movie, The Bourne Legacy, was found to contain high levels of lead, a toxic chemical harmful to the nervous system.
Seventy-three percent of the play equipment and painted surfaces at the San Andres Sports Complex in Manila had lead up to over 100,000 parts per million (ppm), toxics watchdog EcoWaste Coalition said in a statement, citing its own tests.
That level is way above the United States' regulatory limit for paint which is 90 ppm, the same level for paints and other similar surface coatings, certain furniture, toys and other articles intended for use by children, including playground equipment.
The facility recently got a makeover, "courtesy of Hollywood actress Rachel Weisz of the soon to be shown movie, Bourne Legacy," the group said. Weisz "donated an undisclosed sum of money for the rehabilitation of the playground," the group added.
“We admire Rachel Weisz’s generosity and we do not intend to cast any doubt about her sincerity to help the children of San Andres. With their well-being close to her heart, we know Rachel would never want the children to be exposed to lead, a potent brain poison, particularly in a place where they ought to play and enjoy,” affirmed Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition.
“The usual wear-and-tear of play equipment with lead and the surface erosion due to exposure to the sun, rain and moisture will cause the paint coatings to break off over time, creating chips and dust that children unknowingly ingest as they put their hands in their mouths and thus present a lead poisoning hazard,” said Dr. Bessie Antonio, a pediatric toxicologist at East Avenue Medical Center.
According to the UN-sponsored Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, "childhood lead exposure is estimated to contribute to about 600,000 new cases of children with intellectual disabilities every year."
Equipment found to contain high lead levels include the merry-go-round (now broken and kept in a storeroom with 93,700 ppm of lead) and see-saw play equipment (with over 100,000 ppm of lead), which were bought out of Weisz’s donation. The swings, slides and the various monkey bar sets were likewise found laden with excessive amounts of lead, particularly the yellow painted parts with average lead amounting to over 58,281 ppm.
On August 3, the group notified the Manila City Government about the results through Sally Refulgente, Acting Chief of the Recreation Division. Digna Pascua, officer-in-charge of Barangay 704, Zone 77, was likewise personally informed.
As a precautionary step, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the Manila City Government, together with the local barangay council, to periodically assess the state of the playground equipment to minimize their health and safety risk to child users.