Banned Toxic Art Material Sold in Lapu Lapu City

A dangerous school art material laden with lead, a chemical that can harm a child’s brain, is being sold to trusting consumers in Lapu Lapu City.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a Quezon City-based toxics watchdog, made the revelation after buying  banned “Artex Fine Water Colors” for P40 to P59.75 per set from 3 retail outlets in the city on Saturday, June 14.

The group’s AlerToxic Patrol  went to 6 shops in Lapu Lapu City and bought the forbidden product at La Nueva Supermart, Marnikko School and Office Supplies and Society Store (Stall No. 10) of the Public Market. 

The group was pleased not to find the banned product in 3 other shops: CMT Trading, Metro Super and Unitop.

The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) had banned the said product on May 29, 2014 for containing high levels of lead following a complaint lodged by the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Lead is a dangerous neurotoxin that can permanently damage a child’s developing brain if inhaled or swallowed and should not be present in school supplies and toys,” warned Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWasteCoalition.   

Lead is strictly prohibited in the production of school supplies and toys under the “Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds” issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources last December 2013.

Lucero’s group has just concluded hosting the European Union-funded “Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project” workshop in Lapu Lapu City that drew participants from 10 countries from Asia, Europe and North America.

“Retailers should only sell school supplies that have secured market authorization to avoid selling items laden with lead and other hazardous substances that can hinder children’s growth and development,” she said.

Among the adverse health effects of lead exposure are delayed mental and physical development, learning deficiencies, shortened attention span, hearing difficulties, lower IQ and behavioral problems.

FDA Advisory No. 2014-044 dated May 29, 2014 confirmed the high levels of lead above “the maximum tolerable limit of 90 parts per million (ppm)” in samples of Artex Fine Water Colors.

The FDA Central Laboratory found 2 samples of Artex laden with 3,342 ppm and 5,089 ppm of lead.  Even higher levels of lead were found by SGS, a global testing company, on 3 samples submitted by the EcoWaste Coalition for analysis, which had 5,900 ppm, 17,000 ppm and 37,000 ppm of lead.

Through the advisory, FDA’s field officers were ordered to seize the said product, close down the unlicensed supplier, and further continue monitoring unregistered school supplies and do-it-yourself products that may pose risks to the health of children.

The FDA’s action was in response to the report made by the EcoWaste Coalition in April 2014.

In its letter to the group, the FDA stated that Venus Commercial Co., Inc., manufacturer of Artex Fine Water Colors, “has no valid license to operate (LTO) and that the product is not registered/notified nor is there pending applicaton for the registration/notification of the product.”