As toy shopping spree rockets as Christmas nears, an environmental watchdog appealed to retail outlets to pull out toys found to contain endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) called phthalates.
In separate letters sent to Liana’s Department Store, Landmark Department Store, SM Department Store and King Fashion Accessories, the EcoWaste Coalition requested the retailers to desist from selling four specific products that can expose children to phthalates through ingestion, inhalation or skin contact.
As EDCs, phthalates, which are industrial chemicals often used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic soft and pliable, can alter hormonal functions resulting in to some serious reproductive and developmental health problems such as deformed penises, undescended testicles, precocious puberty, infertility, shorter pregnancy duration and birth defects.
Phthalate exposure is also linked to asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
“The four products in question were found to surpass local and international limits for certain phthalates in children’s products and should be immediately withdrawn from the market,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
In laboratory tests commissioned by the EcoWaste Coalition, SGS-Taiwan detected phthalates in four toys above the 0.1 percent by weight limit under the Department of Health Administrative Order 2009-005-A as amended in 2011, which is the same standard being enforced in the EU and US.
DOH A.O. 2009-0005-A states that “it shall be unlawful to manufacture for sale, offer for sale, distribute in commerce, or import into the country any children’s toy that contains concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP) or benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP).”
The same directive prohibits three more types of phthalates such as diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP) and di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP) in “any children’s toy that can be placed in a child’s mouth that contains concentrations of more than 0.1 percent.”
Based on laboratory analyses, the following four kiddie products were found loaded with the restricted phthalates:
1. An unlabeled yellow play chair with “Winnie the Pooh” vinyl seat procured for P176.75 from Liana’s Department Store, Taft Ave., Pasay City that had 1.5% DEHP;
2. A “Spence” soft ball from a pack of six balls procured for P129.75 from Landmark Department Store in Trinoma, Quezon City that had 7.08% DEHP and 0.284% DINP;
3. A green vinyl frog from a value pack of five squeaky toys obtained for P50 from Toy Express at SM City North EDSA, Quezon City that had 34.5% DINP and 0.295% DIDP; and
4. A “Funny Toys” kiddie boxing gloves with “SpongeBob Squarepants” purchased for P33 from King Fashion Accessories, 698 Mall, Divisoria, Manila had 6.75 % DEHP.
In their letter to the retailers, the EcoWaste Coalition requested the concerned stores to return remaining stocks to the concerned manufacturer, importer or distributor and to refund or replace such item bought by their customers upon presentation of proof of purchase.
“As a policy, we hope that your store will require your toy suppliers to comply with DOH A.O. 2009-0005-A, and to duly label compliant toys as “phthalate-free,” so that consumers can easily identify safer products to choose and purchase,” wrote Dizon.
“In addition, we call upon you to adopt a PVC-free policy and halt the sale of PVC-made children’s products as these often contain toxic additives such as phthalates, heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury, organotins and volatile organic compounds,” he suggested.
“If this is not possible for now, we urge you to require health warning labels on PVC-containing children’s products to alert consumers about the risks posed by such products,” he said.