14 May 2011

DepEd Urged to Carefully Screen Toy Donations for Kindergarten Kids

A group promoting children’s safety from health-damaging chemicals urged education officials to be on their guard against toxic toy donations for incoming kindergarten pupils.

The EcoWaste Coalition raised the specter of toxic exposure following the public appeal by Secretary Armin Luistro of the Department of Education (DepEd) for toys to be given to pre-grade I kids in public schools.

“While commending Secretary Luistro for his good intentions, we find it necessary for DepEd to see to it that toys loaded with injurious substances are kept out of the gift-giving to welcome our pre-school learners,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

“We urge DepEd to enlist the help of health authorities in weeding out the toxic toys, as well as those that pose choking, laceration, physical and strangulation hazards to young children,” he added.

“DepEd should take all precautionary measures to shield and save children from unsafe toys. They should come out with a health-based criteria on what toys can be donated and received,” he emphasized.

“We should not let our guards down knowing that children are most prone to chemical and other hazards,” he said.

Children are more at risk to toxic exposure than adults, the EcoWaste Coalition said, because of their frequent hand-to-mouth and object-to-mouth activities and their still immature immune and other vital systems.

A member of the Europe-based Safe Toys Coalition, the EcoWaste Coalition has been pushing for the removal of hazardous chemicals in toys and for their adequate labeling to guide consumers in making informed choices.

Last December 2010, the EcoWaste Coalition revealed that 6 of the 7 plastic toys bought by the group from Divisoria and sent to Thailand for analysis have toxic plastic additives called phthalates despite a government health warning.

Also in 2010, the group sent painted wooden toys to USA for testing and found some of the samples with high levels of lead, a neurotoxin. .

Aside from phthalates, the other chemicals of concern often found in toys include aniline, bisphenol A, brominated flame retardants, cadmium, chlorinated paraffins, chromium, formaldehyde, lead, nonylphenol, organotin, perfluorinated chemicals and triclosan.

-end-
Reference:
Safe Toys Coalition Toys Guide:
http://wecf.eu/english/publications/2009/publications-toysguide.php

DepEd's Press Release re Toys
http://www.deped.gov.ph/updates/updateslinks.asp?id=1139

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