08 November 2012

EcoWaste Coalition Tests 20 Christmas Dinnerware,, Finds Them "Toxic"

Creating a yuletide mood in your dining table through Christmas-inspired dinnerware may spell trouble for your health.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, made the precautionary warning after detecting lead and other harmful chemicals in 20 imported plates and serving dishes sold at cut-rate prices, from P29 to P199, in one department store in Caloocan City.

The attractively-designed platters featured well-loved Christmas symbols such as the evergreen tree, mistletoe and holly, Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus.
Bought and tested on November 4, 2012 using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) chemicals analyzer, the samples revealed a worrisome concoction of heavy metals such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium and lead, the infamous neurotoxin that is the focus of the investigation.
“We found lead on glazes or decorations on the surfaces of the dishes that may leach into the food made, kept or served in those dishes and contribute to a person’s overall lead exposure,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
Lead up to 15,800 parts per million (ppm) was detected in 16 of the 20 samples, way beyond the 90 ppm threshold for lead in paint in the US.

None of these leaded dishware indicated any warning about their lead content.

The remaining four samples either had low or non-detectable amounts of lead, but three of them showed excessive levels of cadmium (from 1,033 ppm to 2,292 ppm), and one had too much chromium (2,652 ppm).

The possibility of lead leaching from certain mugs and plates has prompted the US National Safety Council to inform the public to “be wary of using or of storing food or beverages in highly decorated or metallic-coated tableware.”

“This will explain why some lead-glazed or lead-painted plates sold in US, especially the ornamental ones, bear the mark ‘Not for food use.Food consumed from this vessel may be harmful’ to warn users against improper use,”she pointed out.

To prevent potential lead exposure, the EcoWaste Coalition has advised users not to heat, store and put highly acidic food or liquid in dinnerware that contain or might contain lead.

Based on the probe conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition, the five “most leaded” platters were the following:

1. A dinner plate with a Christmas tree at the center with 15,800 ppm lead.
2. A square serving dish with a Christmas tree with 14,900 ppm lead.
3. A Snowman-shaped serving dish with 11,800 ppm lead.
4. A big oval serving dish with Christmas tree with 10,600 ppm lead.
5. A rectangular serving dish with Santa Claus with 9,207 ppm lead.
“Our findings lend urgency into finalizing a chemical control order for lead and lead compounds, which among other things, should prohibit the use of lead in glazes and paints for food contact materials,”Lucero emphasized.

The government through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has initiated a process to craft a regulatory policy on lead that is awaiting final approval, she said.

Long term effects of lead exposure in children can include learning disabilities, decreased intelligence, poor language and reading skills, impaired motor and visual functions, hearing loss, attention deficit disorder, memory and behavioral problems and even stunted growth, while lead exposure in adults can bring about hypertension, reproductive disorders and cancer.





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