THE EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental watchdog tracking harmful chemicals in products and waste, found half of the 100 toy samples it procured in Baclaran positive for lead and other toxic metals.
The results were released over the weekend as a finale to the group’s observance of the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action (October 20-26) which is backed by the United Nations, to call attention to the lead hazard in some toys due to the use of lead in paints as pigment or drier, or as an additive in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic toys.
“Fifty out of the 100 assorted toy samples were found contaminated with one or more toxicants that are not properly identified on the product labels to alert consumers,” said Thony Dizon, coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
Traces of antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury were found in half of the samples. Lead, a potent neurotoxin, was found in 46 samples above the US regulatory limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) for lead in paint and surface coatings.
“Children aged six years and under are most vulnerable to lead and other toxins because their brains and bodies are still developing and because of their common hand-to-mouth behavior that may cause direct ingestion of lead in dust, soil and toys,” Dizon said.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “lead exposure harms children at much lower doses, and the health effects are generally irreversible and can have a lifelong impact.”
Evidence of reduced intelligence due to childhood lead exposure has convinced WHO to list “lead-caused mental retardation” as a recognized disease.
“The other 50 samples were negative for toxic metals signifying that manufacturers can make toys sans hazardous substances and still profit from it. The presence of such substances in toys that can harm children’s health is indefensible,” Dizon said.
The toy samples that showed the highest levels of lead include:
1. An unlabeled yellow painted metal chair with back rest with 43,100 ppm.
2. An unlabeled cow coin bank with 8,761 ppm.
3. An unlabeled rug doll with yellow PVC plastic dress with 7,014 ppm.
4. A “Fashion Doll” wearing green PVC plastic dress with 5,027 ppm.
5. A “Ji Hua” jumping rope (green cord) with 4,279 ppm.
6. An unlabeled rug doll with orange PVC plastic dress with 4,082 ppm.
7. A unlabeled pig coin bank with 2,740 ppm.
8. A “Cars”-labeled green mini-car with 2,344 ppm.
9. A “Ben 10” toy watch with 1,962 ppm.
10. A “Kidz Corner Pocket Billiard” set with 1,421 ppm.
11. A “Ji Hua” Jumping rope (black cord) with 931 ppm.
The toys were procured on October 18 and 19 by the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol for P50 to P285 each, mostly from Baclaran discount stores in Parañaque and Pasay cities, and subsequently screened for toxic metals using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence spectrometer.
The EcoWaste Coalition initiated a monthly pre-Christmas toys sampling with the advent of the “ber” months to raise the awareness of consumers and motivate them to exercise their rights. Last September, the group detected lead and other chemicals of concern in 94 out of 200 samples (47%) obtained from retailers in Divisoria, Manila.
With barely 60 days before Christmas, the EcoWaste Coalition has reiterated its advice to consumers, particularly parents, to be vigilant against potentially dangerous toys and other children’s products in the market.
“Be inquisitive and insist on your right to product information and safety. Avoid toys that are not compliant with the mandatory testing, registration and labelling requirements. Rich or poor, everyone is entitled to non-toxic products, nothing more, nothing less,” Dizon said.