“Lead safe toys? Pwede pala!”
The non-profit toxics watchdog EcoWaste Coalition voiced this comment at the press briefing held today to announce its discovery of 25 brightly colored wooden toys that are safe from lead, a brain damaging and endocrine disrupting chemical and a probable cancer causing agent in humans.
“All 25 samples of colorful wooden toys that we examined were compliant with the government’s policy outlawing lead in the making of toys,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
Dizon was referring to the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds promulgated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources last December 2013 that strictly prohibits the use of lead in the manufacturing of toys.
“It’s a concrete indicator that toys can be livened up with lead safe coatings that pose no hazards to an innocent child,” he pointed out.
Lead, one of the 10 chemicals of major public health concern worldwide, can permanently damage the brain and the central nervous system and consequently harm cognitive functions, decrease IQ and cause behavioral problems.
“The fact that most of the samples were imported from China should send a clear signal to local toy manufacturers who have yet to toe the line to make the switch right away,” he further emphasized.
Dizon brought to mind that previous screenings of locally-made wooden playthings such as toy ukuleles and play tops (turumpo) found elevated levels of lead on their surface coatings, making them illegal to sell not only in the Philippines, but in US and other industrialized countries.
For her part, pediatric toxicologist Dr. Bessie Antonio from the East Avenue Medical Center said: “Our children can be exposed to lead by inhaling or ingesting lead-containing dust and paint chips. Because they spend a lot of time on the floor and tend to put their hands, toys and other objects in their mouths, kids, especially those aged six years and under, are at highest risk for lead poisoning. The fact that no level of lead in children’s blood is considered safe should move society into eradicating all preventable sources of lead exposure.”
For its latest round of test buys conducted between July 11 to 18, the EcoWaste Coalition procured 25 samples with prices ranging from P16 to P449.75 from formal and informal retailers, including discount stores in 168 and 999 Shopping Malls in Divisoria, as well as from National Book Store, Shopwise and SM Toy Kingdom Express in Harrison Plaza, Malate, Daiso Japan and Toys R Us in Robinsons Place, Ermita, Booksale, Paco and Isetann Department Store, Quiapo, Manila.
The samples, comprised of alphabet and number toys, animal, flower and shape jigsaw puzzles, pet animal figures, musical instruments, pull toys and other playthings, were wholly or partially painted with yellow, blue, green, orange, pink, purple and red coatings.
As per screening using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence device, the surface coatings of the 25 wooden toys were found to contain no detectable levels of lead.