26 October 2014

EcoWaste Coalition Cautions Consumers from Buying Halloween Items that may be Horrifically Toxic

 
The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, advises consumers to demand information on chemicals in products as toy stores load the shelves with spooky merchandises for the Halloween celebration.

“It’s good to exercise precaution when buying such items as toy makers and sellers cash in on the growing popularity of Halloween in some sections of the society, particularly among urban children,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“It’s totally okay to be extra choosy and nosy if this will protect your child from being exposed to substances that may put her or his health at risk,” he said.

As part of the group’s ongoing campaign for “Kid Safe Toys for Zero Harm and Zero Waste,” the group obtained various Halloween products worth P35 to P259.50 each from 9 stores in Baclaran, Divisoria and
Ermita, Manila, as well as in Caloocan and Quezon Cities.

The group screened the items for toxic substances with the help of a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.

Among the items screened were creepers, headbands, masks, shockers, thrillers, weapons, as well as decors and goody baskets.

Out of 50 samples, 21 were found to contain toxic metals such as lead above levels of concern.  For instance, toxic lead up to 43,100 parts per million (ppm) was detected in 12 of the samples.

Lead is a universally recognized poison that has no known safe level in children’s blood.  Childhood lead exposure is associated with reduced IQ, slowed body growth, attention or behavior problems and
failure at school, among other issues.

The top five items that showed the highest levels of total lead content include:

1.  A ceramic pumpkin candle holder with 43,100 ppm of lead.
2.  A trick or treat bag and handle with 10,400 ppm of lead
3.  A black widow giant spider with 1,641 ppm of lead
4.  A garland with pumpkin design with 1,095 ppm of lead
5.  A halloween party mask with 495 ppm of lead

“We find that for every item that has excessive lead on it there will be a comparable item that has low or non-detectable lead content. This only means that children’s products can be made without added
lead.  In fact, we detected no lead in 29 of the 50 samples,” Dizon stated.

“Unfortunately, most of the products on sale are poorly labeled and often has zero information about their chemical ingredients, thus making it hard for consumers to make informed non-toxic choices,” he
lamented.

Aside from heavy metals, the EcoWaste Coalition urged consumers to be on the alert for children’s products that may be laden with phthalate, a toxic additive to polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic.

"Countries in Europe have withdrawn from the market Halloween costumes, masks and fake teeth that pose chemical risk for containing banned phthalates,” Dizon said.

As a precaution against exposure to phthalates, which can interfere with the body’s endocrine system, the EcoWaste Coalition urged consumers to shun toys made of PVC materials, especially those that
can be ingested, mouthed or sucked.

-end-

 Reference:

http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/childhoodpoisoning/en/
www.rapex.eu (search for phthalates in Halloween products)

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