Chemical safety and children’s health advocacy network EcoWaste Coalition found more than half of the 100 toys it sampled from Baclaran positive for lead and other heavy metals.
In the screening, employing x-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, 56 of the 100 toy samples (56%) had at least one toxic metal above levels of concern, 48 of which had lead exceeding the 90 parts per million (ppm) limit for lead in paints and surface coatings.
“Even at much lower doses, lead, a potent neurotoxin, can harm children, the toy manufacturers’ target consumers,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
“Children are usually curious and playful, and would try doing anything with their toys including putting the latter in their mouths, making them a lot more vulnerable to the toxic substances in the toys,” noted Dizon.
The following lists the top 10 lead-contaminated samples, mostly kiddie watches:
1. Yellow strap snow white kiddie watch, 5,425 ppm
2. Yellow strap spiderman kiddie watch, 4,952 ppm
3. Green strap snow white kiddie watch, 4,410 ppm
4. Light Blue strap snow white kiddie watch, 4,250 ppm
5. Pink strap dora kiddie watch, 3,850 ppm
6. Orange dora kiddie watch, 2,893 ppm
7. Yellow smile laser light, 2619 ppm
8. Yellow strap snow white kiddie watch, 3,055 ppm
9. Red strap spongebob kiddie watch, 2,770 ppm
10. Solid fluff art and gold powder picture frame, 2,621 ppm
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, lead can affect almost any organ and system in the body, with the nervous system as its main target.
The World Health Organization has listed “lead-caused mental retardation” as a recognized disease in the face of evidence of reduced intelligence caused by childhood lead exposure.
“It is worrisome that all the 100 samples either have incomplete or no product labels at all, which prevent consumers from making informed choice,” Dizon emphasized.
“Close scrutiny of the samples further reveal that they also have no ‘license to operate’ number printed on their labels, signifying that most samples were not duly registered and noncompliant with the Philippine National Standards (PNS) for Safety of Toys,” Dizon added.
Of the 56 samples that show high lead levels beyond standard, 30 also contain one or more of other heavy metals, namely antimony, chromium, and arsenic, indicating a risk of multiple exposure to different chemicals of concern.
The Coalition maintained that all these heavy metals pose serious adverse health impacts to those exposed to them, such as mainly through ingestion and inhalation, and in minimal cases through dermal absorption.
The items were purchased by the EcoWaste Coalition on October 7 from various toy stores in Sto. Nino Street and J. Gabrielle Street; and from ambulant vendors near Pasay LRT Station, and Terminal Mall 1, Pasay City. They vary in cost from P25 - P150.
As the countdown for the Christmas season continues, the EcoWaste Coalition has stepped up its “Kid Safe Toys for Zero Harm and Zero Waste” Campaign, reiterating its call to consumers, as well as to authorities, to be vigilant against potentially harmful toys and other children’s products in the market.