A Filipino environmental advocate is one of the awardees of the 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize.
Manny Calonzo, one of the seven winners, was recognized due to his campaign that urged the Philippine government to ban the production, use, and sale of lead paint.
Other awardees, who were all females, include Claire Nouvian of France, Francia Marquez of Colombia, LeeAnne Walters of the United States of America, Nguy Thi Khanh of Vietnam, and Makoma Lekalakala and Liz McDaid of South Africa.
Calonzo's EcoWaste campaign conducted studies that examined the lead content of paint and dust found in the homes, schools, and day care centers.
He also worked with firms in the paint industry and developed a third-party certification program to ensure that products contain less than 90 ppm (parts per million) lead, a heavy metal.
Studies have shown that the presence of lead paint on home interiors and exteriors is strongly linked to lead levels in children’s blood.
Lead, a potent neurotoxin, can impair children’s cognitive function. Childhood lead poisoning can have lifelong health impacts such as learning disabilities, reduced IQ, anemia, and disorders in physical, visual, spatial, and language skills.
Through Calonzo's advocacy, 85 percent of the paint market in the Philippines has been certified as "lead safe" in 2017.
This achievement protects millions of Filipino children under the age of six from exposure to lead.
Calonzo is now spreading the Philippine model across Asia, partnering with local organizations to oversee studies of lead in paint in Mongolia, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Vietnam, and introducing the certification program to paint brands in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal.
The Goldman Environmental Prize is the world's largest award honoring grassroots environmental activists from around the world.
It recognizes individuals for their sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk.
In 2012, Filipino priest Edwin Gariguez also won the same prize for his anti-mining campaign. — BAP, GMA News