EcoWaste Coalition Advises Parents to Keep PVC Plastic Accessories Out of Children’s Reach and Mouth

It is okay for young children to look at pretty accessories made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, but not for them to put these cute items into their mouths.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a watchdog group promoting chemical safety and zero waste, issued this precautionary statement after finding PVC plastic accessories featuring popular super heroes and cartoon figures laden with toxic lead.

“Our latest investigation shows that clip bookmarks, key chains, bag or luggage tags and sanitizer bottle covers with PVC plastic embellishments may pose a health risk due to their high lead content and should carry warning labels,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“These items are potentially dangerous, especially if their attractive, colorful and soft PVC adornments get into the hands and into the mouth of a curious baby, toddler or kid,” he said.

The samples were obtained from retailers at 168, 999, Lucky Chinatown and Tutuban shopping malls in Divisoria, Manila in test buys conducted last weekend.

Out of 50 product samples, only nine had either low or non-detectable lead levels, while 41 had lead between 247 to 5,575 parts per million (ppm), way above the 100 ppm total lead content limit for accessible parts of children’s products under the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.  

Out of 41 lead-containing samples, 26 had lead above 1,000 ppm as measured by a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) screening device.
High lead levels were detected on a “Thor” bag tag with 5,575 ppm, an “Iron Man” bag tag with 4,395 ppm, a “dolphin” clip bookmark with 4,256 ppm, a “Minion” sanitizer bottle cover with 3,893 ppm, an “Angry Bird” clip bookmark with 3,682 ppm and a “Batman” key chain with 2,760 ppm.

Lead, one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern according to the World Health Organization, can cause permanent damage to children’s developing brains and central nervous system if ingested or inhaled even at low levels of exposure .  

“Being made of PVC plastic, it’s also likely that these samples may contain other hazardous chemical stabilizers and softeners that are not known to consumers due to lack of chemical in products labeling information,” Dizon said.

“Lead and all these chemical additives can leak out of the plastic material and be absorbed by innocent children chewing on them,” he added.

 To avoid exposure to lead and other chemical additives in PVC plastic accessories, the EcoWaste Coalition urged consumers to avoid plastic products bearing the number “3” or the letters “PVC” or the word “vinyl.”

To encourage manufacturers’ compliance to the government’s Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, which prohibits the use of lead in the production of school supplies and toys, the group advised safety-conscious consumers to go for duly-labeled and registered non-toxic children's products. 

The group further advised the public to dispose of unwanted PVC products with caution, stressing that burning PVC plastic waste will cause the release of extremely harmful environmental pollutants such as dioxins and furans, which belong to some of the most toxic chemicals known to science.