08 December 2008

EcoWaste Coalition Urges DOH to Test Toys for Toxic Chemicals

Quezon City. A citizens’ coalition promoting a toxics-free Christmas urges the Department of Health to initiate a random testing of children’s toys to ensure that only safe toys are sold in the market during this season of gift-giving.

The release last week in the United States of a survey indicating that one in three toys has significant levels of toxic chemicals prompted the EcoWaste Coalition to ask Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to initiate a toys’ test in the Philippines.

“We are deeply disturbed by the use of hazardous chemicals in toys that can easily enter the young bodies of defenseless infants and children through ingestion, inhalation or skin contact,” retired nurse Elsie Brandes-De Veyra of the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“Kids are not in a position to make out the harmful ingredients on their toys. To prevent children’s exposure to hazardous materials, we ask the toy industry and the government, particularly Sec. Duque, to keep toys free of toxic chemicals,” De Veyra, who is also a member of the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women, added.

“We further ask Sec. Duque to initiate a review of the Philippine National Standards for Safety of Toys and the related DOH Administrative Order 2007-0032 to ensure that only non-toxic toys are sold in the country,” the EcoWaste Coalition stated.

The Ecology Center in Michigan released a consumer guide to toxic chemicals in toys at www.healthytoys.org based on laboratory tests of more than 1,500 popular children’s toys.

"Our hope is that by empowering consumers, manufacturers and lawmakers will start phasing out the most harmful substances immediately, and change the laws to protect children from toxic chemicals," Mike Shriberg, Ph.D., Policy Director of the Ecology Center, said.

Researchers tested the toys for arsenic, bromine, cadmium, chlorine, lead and mercury – some of the top chemicals linked to reproductive, developmental and hormonal disorders and various types of cancer.

The toys tested fall under different product categories, including action figures, activity gyms, art and crafts articles, backpacks, bath toys, building blocks, crib toys, dining and bibs, dolls, electronics, games and puzzles, jewelry, kids’ room decorations, musical instruments, preschool/interactive, sporting goods, pacifiers, play stations, rattles and teethers, squeeze toys, stuffed animals, trains, vehicles and construction toys.

Test results showed that children’s jewelry such as bead, bracelet, charm, earrings, keychain, necklace, pin, ring, and watch as the most contaminated product category.

Lead, a neurotoxin that can result to irreparable developmental disorders among children, was found in 20% of the products tested with some products far exceeding the 600 parts-per-million US federal standard for a product recall.

Some 27% of the toys tested were found to be made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the “poison plastic” that can create environmental and health hazards in its production, use and disposal.

Test results also showed that 62% of the toys tested contain low levels of chemicals of concern and that 21 percent are free of chemicals of concern.

These toys, researchers pointed out, look and feel no different than other children's products on the shelf, indicating that toys can be made free of unnecessary toxic chemicals.

In light of this latest report on toxic toys, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the government to regulate and get toxic chemicals out of toys, while it asked manufacturers and retailers not to sell toxic toys.

Last December 4, the EcoWaste Coalition launched its toxics-free Christmas campaign to encourage a cleaner and greener yuletide celebration that will minimize people’s use and exposure to hazardous chemicals

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

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