14 September 2011

Groups Root for Congressional Action on Toxic Children's Products

Groups promoting children’s health and safety have thrown their support behind proposals at both the House of Representatives and the Senate for a legislative probe on toxic chemicals in toys and related children’s items.

Rep. Rep. Anthony Del Rosario (1st District, Davao del Norte) this week filed House Resolution 1669 calling for an inquiry into the proliferation of toys and school supplies laced with dangerous chemicals.

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago had earlier proposed Senate Resolution 556 directing the proper committee to conduct an investigation to strengthen current regulations that will eliminate the use of toxic chemicals in children’s products.

Senator Manny Villar followed suit with Senate Resolution 560 proposing a similar inquiry in the hope of formulating stricter measures to protect Filipino children from dangerous substances in toys.

“The legislative inquiry should pave the way for the enactment of a robust policy that will identify and phase out chemicals of concern in children’s products. The continued use of toxic inputs that can impair a child’s full development is unethical and totally unjustifiable,” said Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, a network of over 125 public interest groups.

These chemicals of concern will include chemicals and compounds that are recognized or suspected of being a reproductive or developmental toxicant, carcinogenic or endocrine disruptor, or persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic.

“The policy should compel manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers to provide complete and correct information about the chemical ingredients of their products in keeping with the consumers’ right to know,” he added.

“Only products that have been proven safe for children and are properly registered and labeled should be offered for sale in the market,” Alvarez emphasized.

A joint report by the EcoWaste Coalition and the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) on toxic metals in children’s products sold in the country triggered the gush of proposals from lawmakers for a legislative inquiry.

Based on tests conducted by the groups using a device called X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzed, 124 products, or 29 percent of the 435 samples tested, were found to contain at least one toxic metal above levels of concern such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury.

Sixty-seven children’s products (15 percent) of the samples had lead levels above the US regulatory limit of 90 parts per million (ppm), with the top 10 products containing lead from 1,712 to 38,433 ppm.

Eight children’s products were found laced with mercury, including four children’s cosmetic products containing 2.5 to 77 ppm of mercury, surpassing the country’s regulatory limit of 1 ppm for mercury in cosmetics.

Also, 57 products (13 percent) tested with more than one toxic metal that raises the probable harm due to multiple exposures.

According to Santiago’s proposed Senate Resolution, the four key elements of a strong safety policy for children's products are:

1) ban or restrict the use of toxic chemicals in children's products

2) ensure consumers' "right to know" about chemicals in children's products including labeling to promote consumer choice,

3) require chemical manufacturers and importers to generate and disclose the chemical content of children's products as a condition for sale in the Philippines, and

4) promote the design and development of safer children's products using green design, safe natural materials, and green chemistry.-end-

References:


Sen. Santiago’s PSN 556:
http://www.senate.gov.ph/lisdata/1194110022!.pdf

Sen. Villar’s PSN 560:
http://www.senate.gov.ph/lisdata/1199610080!.pdf

Rep. Del Rosario’s Press Release re PHR 1669:
http://www.congress.gov.ph/press/details.php?pressid=5436

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