Human health is no monkey business.
Environmental watchdog EcoWaste Coalition emphasized this statement as it warns consumers against purchasing lead painted “feng shui” amulets and charms for health and prosperity during the Chinese New Year of the Fire Monkey.
“Lucky charms that are marketed to enhance a healthy, happy and successful year should be free from toxic lead, a hazardous substance linked to brain damage and other health and behavioral problems,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
“In fact, lead is listed as one of the ten chemicals of major public health concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) and our own government has taken the bold decision to phase out lead in decorative paints effective Jan. 1, 2017,” he said.
“Local paint companies are reformulating or have reformulated their oil-based products to comply with the chemical control order that also sets 90 parts per million (ppm) as the maximum limit for lead in paint,” he added.
“Unfortunately, some lucky charms are still decorated with paints that contain outrageous levels of toxic lead,” he lamented.
“While not intended for children’s use, these products may get into the hands of a curious child who may think these are play things. Kids might even bite or, heaven forbid, swallow these toxic charms,” he said.
According to health experts, lead exposure among children even at low levels can interrupt and damage brain development and cause lifelong learning and behavioral problems, while exposure among adults can bring about miscarriage in women, reduced sperm count in men, hypertension and other health problems.
“Lead has no beneficial use for the human body and should be avoided by children and adults alike,” Dizon said.
Using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, the EcoWaste Coalition had detected excessive levels of lead on 20 Chinese New Year lucky charms and ornaments obtained from retailers in Binondo and Quiapo, Manila for P20 to P250 each.
The top 12 items with the highest lead levels include:
A big “Yin Yang bagua,” 72,200 ppm
A small “Yin Yang bagua,” 68,600 ppm
A gain luck coin or money plate, 35,500 ppm
A painted dragon statuette, 11,900 ppm
A lucky dragon amulet (yellow), 9,799 ppm
A “Chinese anti-anting good luck pat-kua,” 9,648 ppm|
A painted dragon statuette on glass base, 9,608 ppm
A small monkey figurine, 7,800 ppm
A lucky dragon amulet (red), 5,346 ppm
A small Buddha statue, 5,130 ppm
A monkey ornament with the word “happiness,” 4,265 ppm
A “Wu Lo” amulet, 4,251 ppm
“None of these lead-tainted lucky charms had chemicals labeling information nor a cautionary statement to warn consumers,” Dizon noted.
In lieu of lucky charms with hidden hazardous substances like lead, the EcoWaste Coalition urged luck seekers to opt for alternative ways to attract health, fortune and success.
Some of these non-toxic luck items include ginger or taro for bonding relationships, fruits and sweets on a round tray for togetherness, noodles for long life, peanuts for health, rice for fertility and luck, and “tikoy” for increased prosperity in the Year of the Monkey.
“Of course, nothing can beat fervent prayers, healthy lifestyles, good deeds and lots of hard work for a better year ahead,” the group said.