An environmental health organization seeking the prevention of childhood exposure to lead, a chemical that attacks the brain and other vital organs, has cautioned consumers from buying unlabelled play chairs coated with leaded paint.
At a press conference held in Quezon City, the EcoWaste Coalition revealed that some play chairs made and sold primarily for use by young children were tainted with dangerous levels of lead.
The EcoWaste Coalition bought the play chairs featuring popular cartoon figures for P120 to P160 each from toy and general merchandise retailers in Divisoria and from a sidewalk vendor in Sta. Cruz, Manila.
Out of the 9 samples that the EcoWaste Coalition sent to Intertek Testing Services for analysis by Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry (AAS), 7 failed the limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) for total lead in surface coating as indicated below:
1. SpongeBob Squarepants: 20,680 (Fail)
2. Winnie the Pooh: 18,831 ppm (Fail)
3. Secret Mind: 18,064 ppm (Fail)
4. Angry Birds: 13, 923 ppm (Fail)
5. Smurfs: 13,123 ppm (Fail)
6. Bee: 901 ppm (Fail)
7. Spiderman: 169 ppm (Fail)
8. Hello Kitty: 23 ppm (Pass)
9. Ben 10: <10ppm (Pass)
Except for the red Spiderman chair, all the lead-positive chairs were painted with yellow coatings.
During the event, the EcoWaste Coalition led by its newest eco-warrior dubbed as the “Brain Protector” attached “medals" of skull and crossbones to the items in question to hammer home the message that leaded chairs are not fit and safe for kids.
“These lead-tainted chairs are a chemical threat to our children’s developing brains and should not be manufactured and traded at all,” declared Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect. “We have forwarded the laboratory results to both the Department of Health and the Department of Trade and Industry so a formal process of product recall can be initiated at once.”
Jack Weinberg, Coordinator of IPEN’s Global Campaign to Eliminate Lead Paint from US, explained that “surfaces coated with leaded paint will, over time, age, wear out, flake and gather in the indoor dust and outside soils, which are then swallowed by children through their usual hand to mouth behavior, thus increasing the risk of exposure, ”emphasizing “there is no level of childhood lead exposure that is deemed safe.”
Quoting the World Health Organization’s study on “Childhood Lead Poisoning,” paediatrician Dr. Bessie Antonio of the Philippine Society of Clinical and Occupational Toxicology warns that “the consequences of brain injury from exposure to lead in early life are loss of intelligence, shortening of attention span and disruption of behaviour.”
According to WHO,“the human brain has little capacity for repair, these effects are untreatable and irreversible. They cause diminution in brain function and reduction in achievement that last throughout life.”
Lead poisoning can affect virtually every organ system in the body such as the central and peripheral nervous system and the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, renal, endocrine, immune and haematological systems, the WHO said.
The EcoWaste Coalition is a national network of more than 150 public interest groups pursuing sustainable and just solutions to waste, climate change and chemical issues towards the envisioned Zero Waste 2020 goal.