The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network, today conducted a toy clinic to screen toys for health-damaging toxic metals, as well as collected toy donations for child survivors of super typhoon Yolanda.
The back-to-back event was held at Quezon Memorial Circle (QMC) in cooperation with the Office of District 1 Councilor and President Pro-Tempore Dorothy Delarmente and the Quezon City Parks Development and Administration Department.
The event took place soon after a resolution was filed by Quezon City Councilors Delarmente, Lena Marie Juico and Eden Delilah Medina directing the Quezon City Health Department “to conduct toy safety awareness and enforcement activities” in the city.
It also came on the heels of the EcoWaste Coalition’s latest toy sampling and toy drive for Yolanda’s child victims, which aims to gather safe play things to help kids in affected areas cope with the disaster trauma in partnership with the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS).
“As the toy shopping season soars, we urge consumers to be alert and nosy if only to protect vulnerable children from hidden chemical hazards in some toys,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
“Consumers should choose safe toys and refrain from buying unlabeled, unregistered and untested toys from non-compliant toy makers and dealers," he emphasized.
The councilors, through their sponsored resolution, also “(appealed) to all toy manufacturers, importers, distributors and vendors to strictly adhere to existing government toy regulations and to prioritize children’s health and safety over and above profits.”
During the event, the EcoWaste team screened toys bought by consumers from “tiangge” stalls operating at the QMC and analyzed these on-the-spot for lead and other toxic metals using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer.
A team of resource persons led by pediatric toxicologist Dr. Bessie Antonio, head of the East Avenue Medical Center, was present to offer advice to consumers on practical ways to prevent children from being exposed to hazardous chemicals such as lead in toys.
At the event, the EcoWaste Coalition also revealed the results of its toy sampling for November 2013, which analyzed assorted toys worth P10 to P239.75 each that were procured from some several formal and informal retailers in Araneta Center - Cubao, Ever Gotesco Commonwealth Center and toy stores in Muñoz and Novaliches, Quezon City.
Out of 150 samples, 73 items (49%) were found to contain at least one toxic metal above levels of concern such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury that were not indicated on the product labels.
Out of these 73 toxic items, 54 were found to specifically contain lead, a potent neurotoxin, about the US limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) for lead in paint and surface coatings.
Examples of toxic toy products, many of which contain multiple heavy metals that increase the possibility of harm, include:
1. “SpongeBob Squarepants" yellow painted play chair with 7,263 ppm lead, 2,563 ppm chromium and 635 ppm arsenic.
2. “Justice League Superman” stuffed toy with 6,735 ppm lead, 2,415 ppm chromium, 271 ppm arsenic and 180 ppm antimony.
3. “Style Beauty Series” doll with 5,467 ppm lead, 849 ppm chromium and 177 ppm arsenic.
4. “Racer Fast King” yellow car with 4,957 ppm lead.
5. Unlabeled rag doll with yellow hat with 4,954 ppm lead, 1,953 ppm chromium, 666 ppm arsenic and 31 ppm mercury.
6. “Fashion” doll with 3,868 ppm lead, 2,449 ppm chromium and 297 ppm arsenic.
7. “Wonderful Music” xylophone with 2,843 ppm lead and 1,772 ppm chromium.
8. “Farm Set” brown goat with 1,771 ppm lead.
9. “Dora” headband with 1,437 ppm lead.
10. “Barbie” toy mobile phone with 1,263 ppm lead.
11. Unlabeled green orange toy gun with 1,159 ppm antimony.
12. “Pretty Girl” make-up set with 75 ppm mercury.
Citing the views of health experts, Councilors Delarmente, Juico and Medina warned that there is “no safe threshold for lead exposure among children.”
In the resolution they filed, the councilors enumerated the adverse health effects of lead exposure, including “mental retardation, developmental delays, learning disabilities, lower intelligence quotient scores, poor school performance, attention deficit disorder, aggression and other behavioral problems, as well as anemia, hearing loss and kidney damage.”