12 August 2008

Lawmakers Urged to Take Action to Protect Children from Harmful Chemicals in Toys and Other Children’s Products

Quezon City. The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, urged lawmakers to pass a law that will prevent and reduce chemical risks to children’s health, particularly from lead, a
neurotoxin, that can severely affect a child’s brain.

The group was emboldened to ask the lawmakers to regulate chemicals in children’s environment after the US House of Representatives and the US Senate passed an all-embracing legislation, which bans lead and other harmful substances from toys and other children’s products. The bill is now awaiting White House’s approval.

“Our children are defenseless from harmful chemicals because they are not aware of the likely chemical risks around them. Children also tend to place their hands or objects like toys and child care articles into their mouths, making them more prone to chemical exposures,” Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, said.

“Given the known vulnerabilities of children to chemicals, we urge the 14th Congress to legislate measures towards protecting our kids from lead and other harmful substances used in toys and other children’s products that can cause adverse toxic effects,” he added.

Lead poisoning is extremely dangerous to the developing nervous systems of infants and young children and can cause mental retardation, lower IQ, behavioral problems and learning, reading and speaking disabilities, among others.

Aside from lead, the widely-commended US legislation will outlaw – either permanently or pending further research - phthalates, which are commonly found in plastic children’s products or child care articles.

The targeted phthalates include benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), diisononyl phthalate (DINP), and di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP).

The European Union in 2005 banned these phthalates after studies showed that children could absorb the toxic substances when they chew or suck on plastic toys, subsequently causing serious health problems such as damage to the kidney and liver and genital abnormalities in baby boys.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, lawmakers should also seriously view the phase out of millions of lead and phthalate-containing toys and other children’s products in the US and elsewhere and guard against probable dumping of recalled goods into the local market.

“The resale of recalled toys in developing countries like the Philippines is a serious threat to our children’s health. We cannot afford to let our children play with discounted toys loaded with toxic chemical additives and deprive them of their chance to live a healthy and happy future. We challenge our lawmakers to take action now for the sake of our children who are unprotected against harmful chemicals,” the EcoWaste Coalition stated.

The proposed legislative action will be in harmony with the goals of the Strategic Approach on International Chemicals Management (SAICM) that the Philippines and other countries adopted in Dubai in 2006.

SAICM, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed, recognizes the need to protect children and other highly vulnerable groups from chemical exposures as well as prevent the illegal traffic in toxic, hazardous, banned and severely restricted chemicals and chemical products and wastes.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

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