21 July 2013

Cheap Children's Jewelries Loaded with Toxic Metals, Congress Urged to Act vs Health Threat from Toxic-Laden Children's Products

Cheap and cute jewelries for young girls and boys may be easy on the pocket, but dangerous to a child’s health because of their undisclosed chemical poisons.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an advocate for children’s protection against harmful chemicals in commerce and the environment, made the warning on the eve of the Joint Session of the 16th Congress in a bid to draw lawmakers’ attention on the lingering health threat from the marketing of toxic-laden children’s products.

“The problem with toxic chemicals lurking in children’s products such as toys, school supplies, jewelries and accessories has gone unabated to the detriment of Filipino kids who are easy prey for some callous  manufacturers,” said Aileen Lucero, Acting National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Lawmakers of the 16th Congress have the opportunity to correct this chemical injustice against defenseless children by enacting a robust law that will eliminate toxic substances in products marketed to children,” she said.  

“We ask our politicians to rise to the challenge and consider such vital legislative measure a priority,” she added.

The group bought some 100 units of low-cost kiddie bracelets, earrings, necklaces and rings – with prices ranging from P3 to P25 each -  from retailers at 168 Shopping Mall, 999 Shopping Mall and at the bargain section of the posh Lucky Chinatown Mall.

The samples were procured on July 19 and 20 and analyzed for toxic metals using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer.

Out of the 100 samples of cheap children’s jewelry, 78 items (78%) were found to have harmful chemicals, particularly lead and cadmium, above levels of concern.

Lead, a toxicant that primarily affects the developing brain and the central nervous system, was found in 72 samples with the painted guitar pendant of a P25 “Huangbin” necklace registering the highest level of lead at 132,900 ppm. 

Thirteen of these 72 items, mostly earrings with “Hello Kitty” designs that sell for as low as P12 per set, had lead over 100,000 ppm.

Metal rings featuring “The Avengers” heroes and villains and costing just P3 each were found to contain 16,300 ppm to 39,600 ppm of lead.

Cadmium, a cancer-causing substance, was found in 24 items in the range of 204 ppm to a sky-high 220,700 ppm that was detected on a P13 earring with a yellow star design.

During the past two years, the EcoWaste Coalition had generated solid evidence illustrating the widespread trade of unlabeled and unregistered toys loaded with excessive levels of toxic metals such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury.

Arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury are among the “ten chemicals of major public health concern,” according to the World Health Organization.

In 2012, 313 of the 518 toy products tested by the EcoWaste Coalition had one or more toxic metals above levels of concern.

In 2011, 121 of the 435 toy samples analyzed by the group were found to contain toxic metals above permissible levels.

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