15 December 2013

EcoWaste Coalition Finds More Christmas Gift Items Laden with Toxic Chemicals


The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and toxic watchdog, has detected hazardous substances in more gift items being sold by bargain retailers in Divisoria, Manila.

Among the goods found loaded with harmful chemicals are common and affordable Kris Kringle or exchange gift items such as toys and mugs in a box, the group noted.

“As Christmas shopping rush gets underway, we went back to Divisoria to check if there are more goods out there that might pose risks for consumers, especially babies and small children,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“Much to our regret, we analyzed more items laden with toxic chemicals such as lead that could harm a person’s health and wellbeing,” he lamented.

“To make matters worse, none of the items had proper labels denying consumers with essential tools to make informed choice and effective consumer redress,” he complained about.
“Consumers, regardless of their socio-economic status, have the right to product information and the right to be protected against unsafe products,” he emphasized.

Dizon described some of their toxic discoveries:

a.  A pink glass mug decorated with a “Hello Kitty” character that had 38,200 ppm of lead.

b.  A stool with the image of “Winnie the Pooh and Friends” on the plastic seat cover and with yellow painted legs that had 13,200 ppm of lead
c.  A pair of kiddie boxing gloves with "SpongeBob Squarepants" character with 9,356 ppm lead

d.  A small blue “Superman” backpack that had 7,432 ppm of lead
e. A “Hello Kitty” pair of baby shoes with 3,106 ppm lead

f.  A pink and blue infant bonnet with “Mickey Mouse” with 1,813 ppm of lead

In test buys conducted on December 6, 7 and 14, the group’s AlerToxic Patrol  procured a total of 65 samples of common gift items, mostly from street vendors, with prices ranging from as low as P10 to P150 each. 

Subsequent tests using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence analytical device revealed that 55 of the 65 samples had excessive levels of one or more toxic metals of concern.

53 samples were found to contain high levels of lead above the maximum permissible limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) in US for lead in paint and surface coatings, while 23 samples had excessive cadmium and 22 samples had too much arsenic. 

Lead, cadmium and arsenic are among the “ten chemicals of major public health concern” as identified by the World Health Organization (WHO).

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

“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.

Due to its toxic findings, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to be careful when purchasing gift items as it advised givers to look for eco-friendly, health-promoting properly labeled and registered products. 

For earth and budget-friendly Christmas shopping, please see the EcoWaste Coalition’s tips at:
http://ecowastecoalition.blogspot.com/2013/12/ecowaste-coalitions-earth-and-budget.html

-end-

Reference:
http://www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/lead/en/index.html

Additional Information:

Examples of items with the highest concentrations of lead as detected by the EcoWaste Coalition include:

MUGS:
A glass mug with pink “Hello Kitty" design with 38,200 ppm lead
A glass mug with “Luck Sloop Cat” design with 30,300 ppm lead
A glass mug with “SpongeBob Squarepants” character with 29,100 ppm lead

BAGS:
A small blue “Superman” backpack with 7,432 ppm lead
A “Despicable Me" bag with 3,839 ppm lead

Another "Despicable Me" bag with 3,022 ppm  lead

TOYS:

A play stool with “Winnie the Pooh and Friends” design with 13,200 ppm of lead
A pair of kiddie boxing gloves with "SpongeBob Squarepants" character with 9,356 ppm lead
A "Pikachu Pocket Bola" with 5,165 ppm lead

SLIPPERS AND SHOES:
A “Hello Kitty” pair of baby shoes with 3,106 ppm lead.
A "Mickey Mouse" slipper with 2,271 ppm lead
A  "Cars" slipper with 2,130 ppm lead

OTHER ITEMS:

A blue plastic belt decorated with multicolour rings with 7,660 ppm lead
An infant bonnet with “Mickey Mouse” with 1,813 ppm lead
An “Angry Birds” purse with 2,036 ppm lead

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