BEWARE when buying Christmas gifts, the environmental watchdog EcoWaste Coalition reminded Yuletide shoppers.
The coalition said 57 of the 100 common gift items it screened with an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device were found laden with toxic substances, particularly lead, cadmium, and arsenic.
The harmful elements were detected in such items as coffee mugs and drinking glasses which the group bought in test buys conducted in Divisoria in Manila, in Cubao and Commonwealth Market, both in Quezon City, and in Baclaran, Pasay City.
“We are aghast to find that some Christmas goodies out there are like gifts in Pandora’s box, cloaked with hazardous chemicals that can pose health risks to consumers,” said Thony Dizon, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect coordinator.
The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies lead, cadmium and arsenic as among the “10 chemicals of major public health concern.”
Lead, found in 44 items, is a known neurotoxin, which attacks the nervous system. Small children are especially more vulnerable to the damaging effects of lead, as “even relatively low levels of exposure can cause serious and in some cases irreversible neurological damage,” according to the WHO.
“It’s worrisome that many of the items are improperly and insufficiently labeled, depriving consumers access to product information that is vital to making sound purchasing decisions,” Dizon said.
He identified the top 10 gift items that screened with the highest lead content as follows:
1. Yellow water thermos jug with duck design (P240.00), 53,800 ppm
2. Mango glass bottle (P110.00), 41,700 ppm
3. Mickey mouse coffee mug with spoon (P51,00), 35,100 ppm
4. Angry Bird coffee mug (P75.00), 23,200 ppm
5. Mickey mouse tall glass (P70.00), 22,100 ppm
6. Beer mug with dice and bottle opener (P170.00), 21,200 ppm
7. Angry Bird pigs big mug (P50.00), 20,100 ppm
8. Winnie the pooh coffee mug with spoon (P75.00), 19,700 ppm
9. SpongeBob coffee mug with spoon (P51.00), 19,400 ppm
10. Grizzlies’ duck mug with lid (P100.00), 15,500 ppm
The tested items range in price from P 10 to P240.