29 July 2011

Top Retailers Urged to Pull Tainted Children's Products Off Store Shelves

The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxic watchdog, today asked top retailers to demonstrate their corporate social responsibility by removing children’s products that have been found to contain health damaging chemicals.

The EcoWaste Coalition and IPEN, in collaboration with project partners in Manila, Cebu and Davao, recently released the results of their investigation showing 121 samples, or over 27%, of the 435 children’s products tested were loaded with excessive amounts of toxic metals such as lead, a neurotoxin.

Some of the tainted products were procured by the EcoWaste Coalition from National Book Store (SM City North EDSA and Ayala Mall-Cebu), Toys R Us (Robinsons Galleria-Quezon City, Robinsons Place-Cebu and Robinsons in Abreeza Mall-Davao City), Toy Kingdom (SM City North EDSA, SM Cebu and SM Davao) and other formal retailers with official receipts issued.

The samples were screened for toxic ingredients such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer, a device that is routinely used by US regulatory bodies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The screening was conducted by Dr. Joe DiGangi , Senior Science and Policy Adviser of IPEN, who left the country last Wednesday.

In separate letters sent by Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, to Mrs. Socorro Reyes (NBS), Mr. John Gokongwei, Jr. (Robinsons) and Mr. Henry Sy, Sr. (SM), the group expressed serious concern over the sale of children’s products that tested positive with extreme levels of toxic metals.

The letters were delivered today to the corporate offices of NBS in Mandaluyong City, Robinsons in Quezon City, and SM in Pasay City.

“As recognized market leaders, we urge your companies to take immediate action and stop selling items loaded with toxic metals that could irreparably damage children’s health, development and future,” he said.

“Removing the tainted products from your stores would be a commendable act of corporate responsibility on the part of your companies,” he pointed out.

“We have written to you first in the hope of eliciting your earnest cooperation that can be emulated by other retailers, including those in Baclaran and Divisoria in Metro Manila, Bankerohan in Davao City and other toy centers,” he said.

“We are interested in meeting with you to discuss some further steps that could be taken to promote safe products including requiring suppliers to disclose substances of concern in products and requiring suppliers to comply with the labeling requirements under the Consumer Act of the Philippines, Food and Drug Administration Act and other pertinent laws,” he further said.

Some of the products that have to be removed from the market in the interest of children’s health and safety, according to the EcoWaste Coalition, include:

a. Educational toys made by a Cebu-based manufacturer, including wooden number blocks bought from National Book Store SM City North EDSA that tested with 12,053 parts per million (ppm) of lead, or over 100 times the US regulatory limit of 90 ppm. The same sample had 7,053 ppm of chromium, 1,758 ppm of arsenic and 42 ppm of mercury, making it the most contaminated item in the 200 products tested in Manila.

b. A "Bubblegum" drinking glass with painted designs that is made in Thailand and purchased from Toys R Us, Robinsons Place in Cebu City that yielded 38,433 ppm of lead, the highest concentration of lead among the 435 product samples.

c. A picnic tea set toys imported from China and sold at Toy Kingdom, SM-Davao City , which was found to contain 1,404 ppm of lead.

To learn more about the EcoWaste Coalition - IPEN investigation on toxic metals in children's products, please log on to:

http://ipen.org/toxicproducts/

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