The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental watchdog promoting zero waste and chemical safety, called for consumer vigilance after finding metallic rings laden with large amounts of undisclosed toxic lead in the market.
The group’s latest advisory on poison jewelry highlighted the need for stringent regulation that will severely restrict or ban, lead, cadmium and other chemicals of concern in body ornaments to protect human health and the environment.
“Our chemicals screening of 10 metallic rings showed dangerously high levels of lead that would make them illegal to sell in the European Union,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
Out of 10 samples, nine had lead content greater than the EU standard of 0.05% by weight for lead in jewelry.
“In fact, the lead concentrations of these nine rings are shockingly high from over 10% to 39% by weight,” Dizon pointed out.
“The outrageous levels of lead on these items point to the need to impose legal restrictions on hazardous substances in jewelry. Otherwise, our domestic market will become a convenient dumping ground for dangerous goods unable to enter developed countries,” he said.
“Also, the requirements on product labeling, including information on the product chemical composition and the necessary precaution to be observed, must be complied with so as not to deprive consumers of their right to know,” he stressed.
The top three samples with dangerous high lead levels were a ring with an oval skull and cross-bones design with 39% lead, a ring with a butterfly design with 25% lead, and a ring with a flower design with 21% lead.
“While a ring with a cobra design showed no lead, it had 11% cadmium, a carcinogenic chemical, way above the EU limit of 0.01 % by weight for cadmium in jewelry,” Dizon said.
All samples lacked basic product information and carried no toxic warning labels.
The samples were purchased on Easter Sunday from beads and jewelry stores in Quiapo, Manila for P15 to P30 each, and screened for toxic metals using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.
European notifications on recalled or withdrawn jewelry articles warned that “lead is harmful to human health and hazardous to the environment,” while “cadmium is classified as harmful if in contact with the skin, causes damage to organs if swallowed or inhaled and may cause cancer.”
Because of their toxicity and adverse effects on human health and the environment, both lead and cadmium are listed in the World Health Organization’s “ten chemicals of major public health concern.”