Mercury-laced lipstick and make-up set
What do some sipa, trumpo and holen, fun lipstick and make-up set, play rings, action figures, animal toys and other popular kiddie play things have in common?
Answer: Hidden toxic ingredients, and lots of them!
An environmental and health watchdog made this remark after finding harmful chemicals in assorted children’s products being sold by retailers near 38 public elementary schools in the cities of Caloocan, Makati, Malabon, Manila, Pasay, Quezon and Taguig.
The EcoWaste Coalition reported finding arsenic, antimony, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury above levels of concern in 125 of 325 samples (38%) bought by the group in time for the resumption of school classes.
Costing P5 to P50 each, the mostly improperly labelled samples showed worrisome concentrations of toxic chemicals based on the analysis conducted by the group on June 4 and 5 using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer.
For instance, lead (a potent neurotoxin) above the US limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) for paint and surface coatings was detected in 72 samples with one item having a whopping 37,900 ppm of lead.
Mercury (another potent neurotoxin) up to 306 ppm was discovered in 18 of the samples, mostly in play lipstick and make-up, way above the ASEAN limit of 1 ppm for cosmetics.
Among the children’s products that had the highest levels of lead were:
1. A water color set, 37,900 ppm
2. A sipa (yellow plastic threads), 34,100 ppm
3. A silver play ring with Picachu image, 18,800 ppm
4. A yellow wrist strap with Angry Birds design, 14,300 ppm
5. A yellow and orange wooden trumpo, 14,000 ppm
6. A necklace with broken heart pendant, 11,000 ppm
7. A red plastic trumpo, 5,157 ppm
8. A toy laser pointer, 4,427 ppm
9. A blue baller marked “Kain, Tulog, Dota,” 3,594 ppm
10. A multi-colored wooden trumpo, 3,488 ppm
11. A plastic fish figure, 2,641 ppm
12. A plastic Teddy Bear earrings, 2,543 ppm
Also, the EcoWaste Coalition detected lead in the plastic containers of four candy products.
As far as mercury is concerned, the group found very high levels of mercury in the following play cosmetics:
1. A “Dream Girl” make-up set, 306 ppm
2. A “moisture lip cream,” 179 ppm
3. A “Fashion vogue” make-up set, 170 ppm
Moreover, the group reported finding items that could pose serious choking hazards to young kids such as tiny magnetic toys and a toy that looks exactly like a medicine capsule.
“We deplore the sale of these poison toys that in the eyes of innocent children are harmless and fun to play with,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
“Unknown to these young consumers, playing with such toxic toys can expose them to lead, especially when they put these things into their mouths that kids often do,” he said.
“The lead ingested by a child seeps into the bloodstream and gets distributed to body cells, tissues and organs with the nervous system as the main target for toxicity,” he explained.
“The developing brains and nervous systems of young children are most susceptible to the injurious and irreversible effects of lead,” he pointed out.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “lead poisoning is a serious child health concern,” warning that “there is no known safe blood lead level but it is known that, as lead exposure increases, the range and severity of symptoms and effects also increases.”
Like lead, exposure to mercury even in small amounts may cause serious health problems and, according to WHO, “neurological and behavioural disorders may be observed after inhalation, ingestion or dermal exposure of different mercury compounds.”
To avoid kids from falling prey to poison toys, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to toy vendors to only sell duly labelled and registered non-toxic toys.
It also pressed national and local government agencies to initiate enforcement actions that will remove poison toys out of commerce.
Recognizing their indispensable role in ensuring children’s health and safety, the group urged parents and teachers to provide children with information about lead and mercury hazards and guide them on how to avoid exposure such as by not biting or chewing their toys and by thoroughly washing their hands before eating.
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.
WHO Lead Factsheet:http://www.who.int/heca/infomaterials/lead.pdf
WHO Mercury Factsheet:http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs361/en/index.html