08 June 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Welcomes DepEd's Probe on Toxin-Loaded School Supplies

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-governmental anti-toxic watchdog, welcomed the assurance made by the Department of Education (DepEd) that it will conduct a probe on the toxic contents of school supplies.
Education Secretary Mona Valisno, as reported by DZXL, promised to look into the presence of health-damaging chemicals in school supplies following the disclosure by the EcoWaste Coalition of school materials laced with phthalates.

Phthalates, such as di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate or DEHP, are toxic chemical additives added to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic products to impart softness, flexibility and durability. Over the last few years, the European Union and the USA have banned the use of phthalates, including DEHP, in children’s toys and childcare articles.

“We urge the government to build on our modest effort to raise critical awareness on phthalates and test more PVC school supplies and other priority items that will hopefully lead to a precautionary national ban on phthalates in common children’s products,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

Aside from school supplies, the EcoWaste Coalition proposed that testing be also conducted on plastic toys and other articles that are popular among Filipino children.

“Chemicals that can jeopardize the health and future of our children should not be found in school supplies and other items typically used by kids such as toys,” retired chemist Sonia Mendoza of the Mother Earth Foundation and the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized.

“We are concerned with DEHP, especially for children because it is a known endocrine disruptor that interferes with normal growth and development. It will appear from animal experiments to be a likely human carcinogen as so described by the US Environmental Protection Agency,” stated American expert Dr. Peter Orris, University of Illinois Medical Center, in a message sent to the EcoWaste Coalition.

Last Monday, the EcoWaste Coalition made public the result of the chemical analysis on five typical school supplies that were found to contain elevated amounts of DEHP, a probable human carcinogen.

Found to have high amounts of DEHP were a green long plastic envelope (19.881 percent DEHP), a PVC plastic book cover (18.997 percent), a PVC notebook cover (18.543 percent), a PVC plastic lunch bag and a PVC bagpack (both with 17.120 percent DEHP).

The US Congress has set 0.1 per cent as limit for six phthalates,including DEHP, as provided for under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, for any children’s product for ages 12 and below.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium
Matalino St., Quezon City
Philippines
+63 2 441-1846
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

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