- Posted September 26, 2013 by
Quezon City, Philippines
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Toxic Toys as the Christmas Season
Gregorio B. "Jhun" Dantes Jr.
EcoWaste Coalition Sounds Early Warning vs Toxic Toys as the Christmas Season Sets In
Manila, Philippines - 25 September 2013, Quezon City. A waste and pollution watchdog today warned consumers against undisclosed hazardous substances in some children’s products as it uncovered very high levels of heavy metals in 94 out of 200 toy samples.
At a press briefing to announce the September results of its monthly sampling of toys prior to Christmas, the EcoWaste Coalition said it detected arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury above levels of
concern in 94 products, which could pose health risks for young users.
“The bad news is 47 % of the samples have one or more toxic metals above regulatory limits, which increases the probable harm due to multiple exposures to such substances. Lead was the most common toxicant found in the tainted toys,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste
Coalition’s Project Protect.
Lead, a brain damaging toxin, was found in 76 products such as a play chair and a doll that topped the list of tainted samples with 26,900 and 23,200 parts per million (ppm) of lead, respectively, way above the 90 ppm limit for lead in paint and surface coatings.
“The good news is over half of the samples had zero or low levels of toxic metals indicating the technical and economic viability of producing safe toys,” he added.
“Be a vigilant consumer this yuletide season. Carefully scrutinize toys for potential hazards before making a purchase,” he stated.
“Cadmium, lead, mercury and other harmful chemicals should not be present in toys and other child-targeted products,” he emphasized.
In fact, all products marketed for children should be safe from all forms of hazards, including chemical, choking, electric shock, microbiological, noise, physical and strangulation hazards, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed.
Zeroing on lead, the EcoWaste Coalition warned that this metal can harm almost every organ and system of a child’s body, especially the brain and the central nervous system where it can cause permanent mental and developmental damages.
Lead exposure in children via ingestion, inhalation or dermal contact can result in mental retardation, learning difficulties, lower intelligence quotient scores, growth delays and behavioural problems, as well as anemia, hearing loss and kidney injury.
For its September sampling of toys, the EcoWaste Coalitions’ AlerToxic Patrollers went to over 20 formal and informal toy stores located in Divisoria, Ermita, Paco, Malate, Quiapo and Sta. Cruz, Manila on September 18 -21 and bought 200 assorted toys worth P10 to P180 each.
A handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer was used to analyze the toys samples for toxic metals.
Topping the list of tainted samples per toy category were:
1. TOY FURNITURE: A yellow-painted metal “Winnie the Pooh” chair with back rest, 26,900 ppm of lead.
2. DOLL: An unclothed girl doll holding a yellow towel with 23,200 ppm of lead, 8,909 ppm of chromium, 1,441 ppm of arsenic and 655 ppm of cadmium.
3. MUG: A mug with red and yellow “Winnie the Pooh” design with 11, 200 ppm of lead, 3,384 ppm of cadmium and 1,797 ppm of arsenic.
4. SPORTING TOY: A black and yellow “SpongeBob SquarePants” PVC plastic boxing gloves with 9,356 ppm of lead.
5. TOY ANIMAL: A red and green dragon with 5,207 ppm of lead.
6. CARTOON FIGURE: A Pocket Bola “Pikachu” character, with 5,165 ppm of lead.
7. WRITING TOOL: A mini-white board with "SpongeBob Squarepants" and “Patrick” characters with 4,128 ppm of lead.
8. SOFT BALL: A “King Sports” soft stuffed ball with 3,902 ppm of lead
9. BODY ACCESSORY: A green “Ben 10” wrist strap with 3,257 ppm of lead
10. TOY CAR: A “Grand Prix Formula 1” toy car with 2,000 ppm of lead.
11. MONEY BOX: A whale-like ceramic money box with 1,451 ppm of lead,
1,582 ppm of cadmium and 2,047 ppm of chromium.
12. TOY GUN: An unlabeled toy gun with 978 ppm of lead
13. ACTION FIGURE: A police action figure with 344 of lead
14. MUSICAL TOY: A “Spence” xylophone with 296 ppm of lead.
15. TOY COSMETICS: A “Pretty Girl” make-up set with 92 ppm of mercury.
None of the 94 tainted samples disclosed their toxic ingredients on the product labels nor provided any cautionary warnings.
A further scrutiny of the product labels revealed that only 20 of the 200 samples had “license to operate” number, indicating that most of the samples did not undergo the required registration procedures.
Dr. Bessie Antonio, Vice-President of the Philippine Society of Clinical and Occupational Toxicology and resource person of the EcoWaste Coalition, pointed out that children are highly vulnerable to lead exposure, warning that no level of childhood lead exposure is deemed safe.
“Lead is directly ingested by kids when they put their hands or toys that may contain lead paint or dust in their mouths. Their immature body organs and systems are still developing and very susceptible to the damaging effects of lead and other toxicants,” she warned.
To dramatize their plea for toy safety reforms, EcoWaste volunteers donned masks during the press briefing to demonstrate the harmful effects of toxic toys to children’s health and also to the environment, especially when such toys are made, used and finally disposed of.
Armed with the fresh test results, the EcoWaste Coalition renewed its plea to toy manufacturers to shift to clean production, drop the use of toxic chemicals, and commit to making safe products for consumer and ecological health.
The group also asked lawmakers to take more concrete steps to protect kids from toxins in toys, specifically appealing for bipartisan support to House Bill 62 filed by Rep. Anthony Del Rosario and Senate Bill 1095 filed by Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito, or the proposed “Safe and Non-Toxic Toys Act
The group further requested the government to fast track the crafting of the Implementing Rules and Regulations for R.A. 10620, the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013 that President Benigno S. Aquino III signed on September 3.