26 January 2014

EcoWaste Coalition Questions the Use of Lead and Other Toxic Metals in Chinese New Year Lucky Charms (Watchdog FindsToxic Metals in 42 Out of 50 Lucky Charms)


Some feng shui amulets and charms that are supposed to deflect negative chi (energy) and draw good health and wealth during the auspicious Year of the Wooden Horse are ironically loaded with hazardous substances.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, made this observation after obtaining evidence that some of these amulets and charms contain chemicals that belong to the World Health Organization’s “ten chemicals of major public health concern” such as arsenic, cadmium and lead.

“We find the presence of toxic metals in some amulets and charms incompatible with the much trumpeted luck and success that they are supposed to bring,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“There is a clear mismatch between the good flow of energy and prosperity offered by some of these talismans and activators and the bad chemicals that make them up,” he said.

Using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence device, the group detected excessive levels of toxic metals in 42 out of 50 samples.   Out of these 42 tainted samples, lead up to 207,400 parts per million (ppm) was detected in 34 samples, arsenic up to 3,174 ppm in 16 samples and cadmium up to 12,900 ppm in 4 samples.  High levels of antimony and chromium were also detected in some samples.

The assorted samples were procured for P20 to 350 each from lucky charms stores and street vendors  in Binondo, Divisoria and Quiapo, Manila.

None of the samples contain basic labeling information that would have informed the buyer about the product’s manufacturer, country of origin, chemical ingredients and the essential precautionary health and safety warnings.

Topping the samples with the highest concentrations of lead were the following “dirty dozen”:

1.  A prayer necklace adorned with a lead alloy pendant of the six-syllable mantra of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion, had 207,400 ppm of lead.  One who recites the mantra “om mane padme hum” is  supposed to be protected from all dangers.

2.  A “stabilizing amulet” that is said to help in securing emotion for good planning and decision-making with 98,300 ppm of lead.|

3.  A  big “Yin Yang bagua” hanging charm with tassel had 75,900 ppm of lead.

4.  A  small “Yin Yang bagua” hanging charm with tassel had 45,300 ppm of lead.

5. A “gain luck coin” (also known as “money plate”) had 35,500 ppm of lead.

6.  A “golden dragon” sitting on a pile of gold coins and surrounded by the 12 zodiac animals had 9,885 ppm of lead.

7.  A waving prosperity cat made of ceramic had 7,514 ppm of lead.

8.  A lucky bracelet with Rabbit animal figure and multicolor stones had 7,124 ppm of lead.

9.  A figurine of a smiling Buddha holding a lucky gold ingot and gourd had 7,068 ppm of lead.

10.  A lucky charm of 12 horoscope animal symbols had 6,462 ppm of lead.

11.  A horse statuette on top a pineapple and gold ingot had 5,380 ppm of lead.

12.  A horse figurine adorned with leafy vegetables had 4,522 ppm of lead.

Toxicologist Dr. Bessie Antonio, who is also the head of the East Avenue Medical Center's Out-Patient Department, pointed out that “lead is a dangerous toxicant  that kids and adults should avoid.”

“It is a chemical poison that affects multiple body systems and organs, including the heart, kidneys, intestines, brain and the nervous system, as well as the hematologic and reproductive systems,” she said.

“Lead exposure among children even at low levels can disrupt brain development and cause lifelong learning and behavioral problems, while exposure among women and workers can bring about miscarriage, reduced sperm count, anemia, peripheral neuropathy, hypertension and many other lead-induced health issues,” she pointed out.

To avoid preventable toxic exposure, the EcoWaste Coalition advises consumers to be inquisitive, ask pertinent questions and assert one’s right to information in every step of the transaction.

“It’s better to be makulit (importunate) than to spend hard-earned money for lucky charms that can poison one’s future and the environment,” Dizon reminded.



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