10 September 2010

Government Urged to Test Toys for Dangerous Chemicals with the Onset of “Ber’ Months

Quezon City. With the start of the “ber” months, a toxic watchdog has called on the authorities to test toys for harmful chemicals to ensure that only safe toys are offered for sale in the build-up towards Christmas gift-giving.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a network campaigning for children’s health and safety from toxic chemicals, made the plea as the countdown to Christmas begins.

“To make the holidays merry and safe, especially for kids, we ask the government to guarantee that only truly non-toxic toys are placed on store shelves and sold to consumers,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Over the next few months, stores will be stocking up heaps of alluring toys in anticipation of the increased demand during the season of gift-giving,” he noted.

“We all owe it to the Filipino children that toys laced with chemicals linked to mental retardation, brain damage, behavioral disorders and the like are strictly banned and kept out of children's hands,” he emphasized.

The group recently went “shop browsing” in Divisoria that many considered as a bargain hunters’ paradise for toys and all other consumer products.

The recent toxic toys scare in Singapore prompted the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlertToxic Patrol to visit the popular 168 Mall, Divisoria Mall, New Divisoria Center and the many toy stores in the vicinity.

“We’re amazed to see many toy vendors enjoying a brisk sale ahead of the Christmas shopping spree,” Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“At the same time, we’re upset to see many toys without adequate labels that could guide consumers on whether these toys are suitable and pose no potential health and safety risks to kids,” he added.

‘But, what really stunned us was seeing two of the toys that failed chemical toxicological tests commissioned by a consumer group in Singapore,” he said.

Last August 16, the Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE) released the results of the test it conducted involving 50 toys that found 23 of them (or 46%) containing higher than permitted levels of phthalates, lead or both.

CASE bought the toys, all China-made, from local shops and sent them to an accredited laboratory. The toys selected for the test included:

1) Brightly and/or colorfully painted toys (indication of possible presence of excessive lead contents)

2) Soft and pliable plastic toys (indication of possible presence of excessive phthalates)

Out of the 23 toys that failed chemical tests, 16 exceeded the limit for phthalates, 3 exceeded the limit for lead, while 4 exceeded the limit for both phthalates and lead.

According to CASE, the permissible limit for phthalates based on US regulatory standards is 0.1% weight/weight, while that for lead in accessible substrate materials is 300 parts per million (ppm).

International regulatory standards, CASE said, specify that the limit for lead in paint/similar surface coating materials is 90 ppm.

Phthalates are industrial chemicals used as plastic softener that have been linked to damage to the human reproductive systems, as well as liver, kidney, and lung damage in animals, while lead is a neurotoxin that attacks the brain and the nervous system, and is especially hazardous to infants and young children.

The same toys were also subject to physical, mechanical and labelling tests conducted using the American Society of Testing and Materials Standards (ASTM) F963-08 for toy safety, CASE reported.

According to CASE, 5 of the toys failed physical or mechanical tests. Out of these, 2 toys posed a potential choking hazard to young children because the components of the toy could easily be detached. 2 toys failed the design requirements for a toy gun, in which special toy gun markings are required to ensure the toy is not mistaken for a real firearm. The other toy failed physical tests as its packaging did not meet the minimum thickness required by the standards.

-end-

Reference:

CASE Report on Phthalates and Lead in Toys:
http://www.case.org.sg/downloads/central/Nearly%20half%20of%20toys%20tested%20by%20CASE%20harmful.pdf

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