02 June 2013

EcoWaste Coalition: Rain Gear for Kids Tainted with Toxic Chemicals

Rain boots, coats and umbrellas that are meant to protect school children from getting wet and sick during the rainy days may pose chemical risks to their health.

The EcoWaste Coalition made the precautionary warning after finding 23 of the 33 rainwear products from Divisoria positive for lead and cadmium, two nasty chemicals listed in the World Health Organization’s “Ten Chemicals of Major Public Health Concern”
Using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, the toxics watchdog detected excessive levels of lead (a brain toxicant), up to 15,500 parts per million (ppm), and cadmium (a human carcinogen), up to 717 ppm, in 70% of the 33 common rain protection items.

Among the items analyzed were 25 raincoats, five umbrellas and three pairs of rain boots that the group  bought on June 1 for P50 – P250 each from 10 discount shops situated at 11/88 Shopping Mall, 168 Shopping Mall, 999 Shopping Mall and the Tutuban Prime Block Mall.

“Our investigation shows that many rain protection products contain poison chemicals that may leach or disperse into the surroundings over time.  Parents need to pay attention to this health threat as children’s developing bodies are very vulnerable to chemical hazards,” said Aileen Lucero, Acting National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

According to Lucero, these chemicals
are inevitably discharged into the environment with the usual wear and tear and disposal of products, which are then absorbed into a child’s body via ingestion, inhalation or skin absorption.

“Their hand to mouth behavior and their habit of sitting on the ground or the floor can result to greater childhood exposure to various toxins,” she added.

“There is simply no justification for brain-damaging and cancer-causing chemicals in products designed and marketed for children’s use,” she emphasized.  
Of the 25 samples of raincoats that are mostly made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic and featuring favorite cartoon characters, 11 had lead from 292 to 15,500 ppm with the following as the five most loaded with lead:

1.  An egg yellow “Tweety” medium raincoat with 15,500 ppm
2.  Another egg yellow “Tweety” small raincoat with 14,100 ppm
3.  A light yellow “Mickey Mouse” small raincoat with 2,255 ppm
4.  A bright yellow “Yikang” two-piece large raincoat with 2,090 ppm
5.  A blue “Tasmanian Devil” raincoat with 1,753 ppm

Of these 25 raincoats, 13 were found laced with cadmium with a
green “Haiyan Ben 10” extra large raincoat containing 717 ppm cadmium. 

Of the five umbrellas tested, lead was detected on the “Hello Kitty” design of two mini-umbrellas at 122 ppm and 275 ppm each.
Of the three pairs of boots, “Pengi” green boots and “Panda” red boots were found laden with cadmium amounting to 398 ppm and 523 ppm, respectively.

To prevent toxic exposure, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to read product labels carefully and avoid PVC materials known for their strong chemical odor as they contain numerous toxic additives like cadmium and lead used as pigments or stabilizers. 

The group also advised parents to regularly check the condition of the products used by their kids for any signs of wear and tear, and to frequently remind kids to wash their hands thoroughly, especially before snacks or meals.

According to the WHO, “lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems, including the neurologic, hematologic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and renal systems.”

“Children are particularly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of lead, and even relatively low levels of exposure can cause serious and in some cases irreversible neurological damage,” the WHO warned.
“Cadmium exerts toxic effects on the kidney, the skeletal and the respiratory systems, and is classified as a human carcinogen,” the WHO further 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.


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