15 August 2014

Watchdog Cautions Consumers vs Cancer-Causing Chemicals in Fake Loom Band Charms

The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, has renewed its call for consumer vigilance as news about carcinogenic chemicals in fake loom band charms continue to sizzle in Europe.

British, Irish and other European newspapers have published articles warning parents on dangerous levels of toxic phthalates found in phony charms, not in the rubber bands, that are added onto the popular loom band bracelets.

Phthalates, which are known for their cancer-causing and endocrine disrupting properties, are synthetic industrial chemicals used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic softer, pliable and durable.

“The loom band fad has become a global phenomenon and many devious imitations are flooding the market.  They come cheap, but with no safety guarantee.  These products have not undergone obligatory registration and passed the required toy quality and safety standards,” noted Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“As the ‘ber’ months near, we fear that traders will stock up on knockoff loom bands and accessories to cash in on increased demands during Christmastime,” he said.

“The cancer-scare involving fake loom band charms that is sweeping Europe should serve as a warning against buying such cute but toxic counterfeits.  Consumers should heed such warning,” he stated.

The EcoWaste Coalition cited published statements from the UK laboratory that conducted the phthalate analysis on fake loom band charms to back its call for precaution.

“Out of the 16 packets we tested every single charm failed because they contained more than the legal limit of 0.1 per cent of phthalates – with two having more than 50 per cent,” said Marion Wilson of the Birmingham Assay Office.

“It's not to say every packet of loom bands out there is affected but there are plenty of products on the market that could be dangerous,” she added.

“The worrying thing is the charms are the bits that are most likely to end up in children's mouths,” she pointed out.

Exposures to phthalates have been linked to a number of health problems, including deformed penises and undescended testicles, cleft palate and other developmental abnormalities, premature puberty, shorter pregnancy duration and birth defects.

Studies have likewise linked phthalates to asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
The Department of Health (DOH) has taken cognizance of the problem with children’s exposure to phthalates and promulgated a policy way back in 2011. 
Under the DOH Administrative Order 2009-0005-A, as amended in 2011, children’s toys containing over 1% of phthalates DEHP (Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate), DBP (Dibutyl phthalate) and BBP (Butyl benzyl phthalate) are prohibited. 

The said DOH policy further prohibits phthalates DINP (Diisononyl phthalate), DIDP (Diisodecyl phthalate) and DNOP (di-n-octyl phthalate) in excess of 1% in children’s toys that could be placed in the mouth.

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