• Watchdog warns against toxic children’s chairs

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    PARENT, take heed: Some painted chairs marketed for children’s use contain dangerous levels of lead, a harmful chemical that is toxic to the brain and other organs of a growing child.

    The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, raised the red flag over the weekend after detecting lead up to 26,400 parts per million (ppm) on the yellow surface paint on the metal tube frame of some imported children’s furniture.

    “These kiddie play chairs are contaminated with toxic lead that would make them illegal to sell in Canada and USA, and even in the Philippines if we are to rigorously enforce our country’s lead control regulation,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coaltion’s Project Protect.

    “Parents should shun painted children’s play chairs unless certified lead-safe, and government regulators should ban and seize them without ado to prevent childhood lead poisoning,” he added.

    Dizon warned that the leaded paint coatings of these chairs will crack, flake or peel over time, scattering hazardous chips and dust on surfaces and objects that kids touch and then swallow through their common hand-to-mouth behavior.

    As part of its “Kid-Safe Toys for Zero Harm, Zero Waste” pre-Christmas campaign, the group’s AlerToxic Patrol procured on September 4 brand-new folding chair, stool and chair with backrest costing P140, P120 and P80, respectively, from a bargain store in Paco, Manila.

    Each chair has a plastic green and yellow seat, with a fiore (flower) baby design, that produces sounds when a child sits on it.

    Based on the screening conducted by the group using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, the yellow coated frame of the folding chair had lead content of 26,400 ppm, the stool had 19,700 ppm and the chair with backrest had 16,100 ppm, way above the 90 ppm threshold limit.

    The group stated that the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act both limit lead to not more than 90 ppm in surface coating materials for toys, furniture and other children’s articles to safeguard kids from toxicity associated with lead exposure.

    It further referred to the groundbreaking Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in December 2013 that strictly prohibits the use of lead in the manufacturing of toys.

    Citing information from the World Health Organization (WHO), the EcoWaste Coalition said “at high levels of acute exposure, lead attacks the brain and central nervous system to cause coma, convulsions and even death. Children who survive acute lead poisoning are typically left with grossly obvious mental retardation and behavioral disruption.”

    “At lower levels of exposure that cause no obvious symptoms and that previously were considered safe, lead is now known to produce a spectrum of injury that causes loss of cognition, shortening of attention span, alteration of behavior, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs,” the WHO said.

    “For the most part, these effects are permanent. They are irreversible and untreatable by modern medicine,” it added.

    This is not the first time that the group detected high levels of lead on children’s furniture.

    XRF screening and subsequent laboratory analysis of similar children’s chairs and stools in 2012 and 2013 found lead up to 20,680 ppm in the samples.

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