23 July 2011

EcoWaste Coalition Cites Role of Health Professionals in Drive for Toxic-Free Children's Products



The environmental group EcoWaste Coalition today called attention to the essential role of health professionals in preventing childhood exposure from toxic chemicals in children’s products.

This came on the heels of the discovery of outrageous levels of heavy metals in dozens of children’s products bought from Metro Manila and Metro Cebu and tested by the EcoWaste Coalition and its partner IPEN, using X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) chemical analyzer.

For instance, 19% of the 200 samples from Metro Manila and 8% of the 100 samples from Metro Cebu were found to contain lead, a neurotoxin, from 90 parts per million (ppm), the US regulatory limit for lead, to as high as almost 40,000 ppm.

Overall, approximately 30% of the Metro Manila samples and 25% percent of those from Metro Cebu had at least antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead or mercury above levels of concern.



At a forum on “Toxic Metals in Children’s Products” that drew participants from both health professional and environmental health groups, the EcoWaste Coalition affirmed the importance of medical doctors, nurses and other healthcare specialists in acting on knowledge of harm to public health from heavy metals.

“The results of our analysis provide sufficient evidence and strong basis to warrant sweeping action on lead, mercury and other toxic metals in children's products,” said Manny Calonzo, Steering Committee member of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“We hope that the country’s numerous medical and health organizations will take the lead in seeking the removal of the tainted products off the shelves in the interest of public health,” he said.

“Knowing that protecting our children from toxic exposure, which can often lead to irreparable effects, is better than cure, we urge our health experts to likewise ask the industry to cease from using harmful substances in all children’s products,” he stated.

Speaking at the forum, American scientist Dr. Joe DiGangi of IPEN emphasized that “a comprehensive approach should be implemented that prohibits substances of concern in children’s products such as carcinogens, mutagens, reproductive toxicants, neurotoxicants, immunotoxicants, persistent bioaccumulative and toxic substances, and endocrine disrupters.”

Medical and health authorities can take their cue from the country’s food and drug administrator who recently appealed to all sectors to “participate to achieve the daunting goal of toxic-free products” following the release of the test findings in Manila last Wednesday, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Dr. Suzette Lazo, Director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in a statement posted in the agency’s website, also enjoined the industry “to exercise extraordinary diligence in the manufacture and distribution of products under their stewardship by assuring that these are safe.”

Among the medical and health professionals who participated in the forum were the representatives from the Philippine Pediatric Society and the Philippine Nurses Association.

Also present were the Mother and Child Nurses Association of the Philippines, Occupational Nurses Association of the Philippines, Perinatal Association of the Philippines, Philippine Cancer Society, Philippine College of Hospital Administrators, Philippine College of Radiology, Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society, Philippine Society of Clinical and Occupation Toxicology and the Philippine Society of Oncology.

Representatives of Ang NARS, Arugaan, Autism Society of the Philippines, Ban Toxics, Citizens' Organization Concerned with Advocating for Philippine Environmental Sustainability, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance-Philippines, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Health Care Without Harm, Makabata para sa Bayan and the November 17 Movement also took part in the forum.

Government-affiliated offices were also represented at the forum, including the Occupational Safety and Health Center, and UP College of Medicine - Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.

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To view the EcoWaste Coalition-IPEN report on toxic metals in children’s products in the Philippines, please log on to:










http://ipen.org/toxicproducts/

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