25 May 2014

Back-to-School Project Promotes Lead-Safe, Non-Toxic Zippers for School Uniforms

Used school uniforms got a new lease of life through a practical “back-to-school” initiative involving a vibrant parish community, a toxics watchdog group and the world’s largest zipper manufacturer.

Through a collaborative project that brought together the Our Lady of Remedies Parish, EcoWaste Coalition and YKK Philippines, over 500 zippers of school shorts, pants and skirts that have seen better days were replaced with non-toxic and eco-friendly YKK Zippers at no cost to the delight of more than 100 mothers.

Dubbed as the “Palit Zipper na Ligtas sa Tingga,” the project sought to 1) draw public attention on the lead hazard in some zipper products, 2) encourage consumers to patronize quality lead safe zippers, and 3) help poor families cut their back-to-school expenses by offering to replace worn out zippers of school uniforms.  The event was held Sunday at the Remedios Training Center.

"Back-to-school expenses can be a real challenge for many families living on a shoestring budget. Most will rely on cheap, low quality items that may contain harmful substances. Mothers who took advantage of this 'palit zipper' initiative can now breathe a collective sigh of relief for two reasons: first, they are learning another way to protect their children, and second, they know for certain that the zippers on their children’s clothes are safe from lead, a hazardous chemical,” said Fr. Leo Distor, Parish Priest, Our Lady of Remedies Parish, Malate, Manila. 

“We are pleased to assure our customers that our zippers are compliant to standards and are globally accepted.  By ensuring our proven product quality and safety through rigorous tests conducted by ourselves and via third party inspection, we give our customers a peace of mind and a real value for their money,” said Mr. Tadashi Koshio, Executive Vice-President for Sales and Marketing, YKK Philippines Inc.

“Zippers containing high levels of lead on the surface coating or the substrate should be kept out of reach of children who may be unwittingly exposed to such neurotoxin when they touch the puller and slider of lead-containing zippers of clothes, bags and accessories,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“There is no known amount of lead exposure that is considered safe, especially for a child’s developing brain.  It is therefore imperative to get rid of all preventable sources of lead in a child’s environment, including lead paint and dust, and lead in school supplies, toys and other children’s products,”Dizon added.                           

According to the World Health Organization (WHO):
“Lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children.”
“Childhood lead exposure is estimated to contribute to about 600 000 new cases of children developing intellectual disabilities every year.”

“Lead exposure is estimated to account for 143 000 deaths per year with the highest burden in developing regions.”

Last December 2013, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued a Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, which prohibits, among other things, the use of lead in the production of school supplies and toys and sets a threshold limit of 90 parts per million for lead in paint.

While the said policy does not explicitly mention about zippers and other fastening devices, it is a fact that these items are accessible parts of things that children normally use such as bags and garments and should be lead safe, the groups insisted.

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