27 May 2009

Green Groups Back Bill Banning Toxic Chemicals in Toys

Quezon City. Chemical safety advocates from public interest groups have thrown their support behind a bill that will protect children from developmental and reproductive toxicants known as phthalates.

The EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and Greenpeace pressed the House Committee on the Welfare of Children at a public hearing today to fast track the passage of House Bill 5896 filed by Rep. Narciso Santiago III.

If enacted, the bill will prohibit the sale of toys and other articles with phthalates intended for children three years of age and below that could imperil their growth and lead to developmental disorders, hormonal disruptions and reproductive abnormalities.

“Chemicals that could put the health and safety of our children at risk should absolutely have no place in children’s toys,” commented Rei Panaligan, coordinator of the waste and pollution watchdog.

“We hope that the 14th Congress will prioritize this bill and ensure its immediate approval. A law that will adequately protect our children from toxic phthalates will be the best gift that this Congress can give to our children, especially with the Christmas season just over the horizon,” he added.

The EcoWaste Coalition provided members of the Committee with papers detailing the risks and hazards of phthalates, especially for kids who are most prone to ingesting these harmful substances when they suck or chew on plastic toys and articles.

The EcoWaste Coalition challenged lawmakers to take cue from recent US and European decisions banning phthalates to prevent children’s exposure from these health-damaging substances.

The US Congress in 2008 banned six phthalates from children’s toys and cosmetics, while the European Union imposed a ban in 2007 on the use of phthalates in toys and other articles that are targeted for children under the age of three.

At the national workshop on chemical safety sponsored by the EcoWaste Coalition on 27-28 January 2009 in UP Diliman, over 150 participants vowed to campaign to “save children from toxic harm.”

The participants, mostly coming from the grassroots, urged the government, the industry and the civil society, to promote the safety of developing fetuses, infants and children who are defenseless to contamination from toxic chemicals such as phthalates.

A 2005 European Union directive on phthalates in toys emphasized that the precautionary principle should be applied to ensure a high level of protection of health, in particular for children.

“Children as developing organisms are particularly vulnerable to reprotoxic substances. Therefore, the exposure of children to all practically avoidable sources of emissions of these substances, especially from articles which are put into the mouth by children, should be reduced as far as possible,” the European Union said.

“We owe it to our children to make the toys and other products designed, manufactured and traded for their consumption to be free of all toxins that can impair their health and their ability to live fully,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

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