05 November 2014

Toxic Additives in Some Plastic PVC Toys Exceed Legal Limit - EcoWaste Coalition

Quezon City.  The EcoWaste Coalition, a public interest environmental network promoting chemical safety and children’s health, pressed the government to act against the sale of plastic toys laden with toxic chemicals commonly found in soft polyvinyl chloride (PVC) toys.

“The Department of Health (DOH) made the right decision in 2011 to prohibit certain phthalates in toys as a precaution against childhood exposure to these toxic plasticizers, which are capable of disrupting human hormone functions and resulting to serious health issues, including what scientists call as ‘phthalate syndrome’,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“Phthalate syndrome” refers to a host of male reproductive abnormalities linked to exposure to some phthalates such as undescended testes, malformation of the penis, reduced sperm count and infertility. In girls, phthalate exposure is associated with precocious puberty characterized by premature breast development and other early pubertal changes.

“But almost three years have gone by and we still find phthalate-contaminated toys in the market,” lamented Dizon.

To prove his point, Dizon identified several PVC toys that the EcoWaste Coalition bought from discount stores and shopping malls and sent abroad for laboratory analysis  using Gas Chromotographic – Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) to determine if the samples contain phthalates DEHP, DBP, BBP, DINP, DIDP and DnOP above the threshold limit of 0.1 percent by weight.

As per laboratory studies, the following items were found to contain elevated levels of the restricted phthalates, which would make them illegal to sell in the Philippines, as well as in Europe, US and even in China:

1. A green vinyl squeaky frog with 34.5% DINP and 0.295% DIDP

2. A “Power Puff Girl” squeaky toy with 20.49 % DINP and 0.185% DBP

3. A “Little Ones Nap Time Doll Crib Set” vinyl doll with 16.70% DEHP

4. A “Shrilling Chicken” toy with 13.22% DBP

5. An unlabeled doll with 9.10% DIDP and 0.21% DBP

6. A “Spence” soft vinyl ball with 7.08% DEHP and 0.284% DINP

7. A “Funny Toys” kiddie boxing gloves with 6.75 % DEHP

8. A yellow play chair with “Winnie the Pooh” vinyl seat with 1.5% DEHP

“We support DOH's full implementation of the restrictions it has fittingly imposed to prevent and reduce childhood exposure to phthalates,” stated Dizon.  

“We advise the public to steer clear of toys bearing the plastic identification code number 3 or labeled as PVC or V (vinyl) that may be laden with phthalates and other hidden toxic additives,” he added.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona on December 14, 2011 signed a directive amending DOH A.O. 2009-0005, making “it unlawful for any person to manufacture for sale, offer for sale, distribute in commerce, or import into the country any children’s toys that contains concentrations of more than 0.1 percent by weight of di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), or benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP).”

The directive further prohibits the sale of “any children’s toy that can be placed in a child’s mouth that contains concentrations of more than 0.1 % by weight of diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), or di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP).

The EcoWaste Coalition’s latest advisory on toxic chemicals in certain toys is part of the group’s ongoing pre-Christmas campaign on “Kid-Safe Toys for Zero Harm and Zero Waste.”

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