27 April 2014

EcoWaste Coalition Reveals Latest Findings from Its Toxics-Free Summer Campaign: Lead-Laden Souvenir Key Chains

 Key chains with lead (above)
Key chains without lead (below)
Key chains, which are among the most affordable mementos available at gift shops in various summer destinations, may contain elevated levels of lead, a potent toxin that targets the brain and the central nervous system.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network promoting zero waste and chemical safety, aired the warning as part of its ongoing “toxics-free summer” campaign that has seen the group informing consumers about harmful chemicals lurking in swim floats and rings, play tops and other native toys, art materials and even in religious figures.  

In its latest investigation, the group detected lead up to 80,500 parts per million (ppm) in 38 out of 50 key chain samples with paint coatings that retailers in Quiapo, Manila and elsewhere sell from P10 to P35 each. 

Attached to the key rings are decorative key fobs made of coconut, plastic, metal or wood, with painted drawings and often bearing the word “Philippines.”  Some of the fobs are shaped like a fish, guitar, shirt or slipper that could appeal to a child’s curiosity and liking.

“Adults might give such nicely-designed but lead-laden key chains to kids who may use them as a toy or for use with a house key.  As the item may potentially land on a child’s hands and mouth, it is important for key chains to comply with the government’s regulatory policy on lead,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“The lead coated design will surely deteriorate with frequent use, releasing the lead as chip or dust that kids may swallow through their casual hand-to-mouth behaviour.  Some kids may even bite or chew on the cute items, directly ingesting the lead paint,” he added.

Lead is strictly prohibited in the manufacturing of toys under the Chemical Control Order (CCO) for Lead and Lead Compounds signed by Environment Secretary Ramon Paje last December 2013.  The said policy also set a limit of 90 ppm for lead in paints.

As one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern” as determined by the World Health Organization, exposure to lead can cause irreparable brain and nervous system damage, reduced intelligence, learning disabilities and behavioral issues.

The top 12 samples of key chains with the highest levels of lead based on the screening conducted by the group using an X-Ray Fluorescence device were:

1.  A key chain with a rectangular metallic fob with yellow paint and featuring “tinikling” folk dance and the word “Philippines” has 80,500 ppm of lead.
2.  A key chain with a  circular plastic fob showing  fish and corrals and the word “Philippines” has 12,800 ppm of lead.
3.  A key chain with a plastic fob showing a couple sitting on a carabao and has the word “Philippines” has 12,200 ppm of lead.
4.  A key chain with a plastic fob featuring a farmer and carabao-drawn cart has 10,500 ppm of lead.
5.  A key chain with a plastic fob showing marine life and has the words “Boracay” and “Philippines,” has 9,027 ppm of lead.
6.  A key chain with a wooden fob shaped and colored like a “suman” and marked “Antipolo City” has 5,409 ppm of lead.
7.   A key chain with a wooden yellow-colored pencil fob with the word s“Antipolo City” has 4,282 ppm of lead.
8.  A key chain with a plastic fob showing a couple with the words “carabao rider” and “Philippines” has  4,108 ppm of lead.
9.  A key chain with a wooden fob shaped as cashew fruit with the words “Antipolo City” has 2,017 ppm of lead.
10.  A key chain with a wooden yellow-painted fish fob has 1,306 ppm of lead.
11. A key chain with a wooden yellow and orange-painted guitar and the word “Philippines” has 1,221 ppm of lead.
12.  A key chain with a green wooden fob shaped as a shirt that says “I love Philippines” has 1,202 ppm of lead.

In view of its findings, the EcoWaste Coalition urged souvenir makers all over the country to shift to lead-safe paints, and to label their products as containing or not containing lead and other chemicals of concern to assist consumers in making an informed choice.



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