At the launch of their annual safe toys campaign, the EcoWaste Coalition urged consumers to always remember and apply the motto “Safety First” before making any toy purchase.
“Many consumers, more often than not, make a knee-jerk purchase based on the attractiveness, color, packaging and price of a toy, without paying attention to safety details,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
“By applying the saying ‘Safety First,’ parents and other toy givers will avoid offering toys that could put children’s health in danger instead of providing them with playthings to support their mental, physical, and social development,” he said.
To assist consumers in selecting harmless toys, the EcoWaste Coalition has come up with an eight-point quick “Santa’s Guide for Safe Toys” such as: 1. age-appropriate; 2. well-made; 3. no small parts; 4. string shorter than 12”; 5. injury-free; 6. not coated with lead paint; 7. non-polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic; and 8. labeled and registered.
“These basic tips should help consumers keep kids out of harm’s way and we hope that consumers would take note of them. We encourage consumers to add more to the list based on their personal experiences with common toy hazards,” Dizon said.
Some of these common toy hazards include loose or small parts that may be ingested and bring about breathing difficulties or choking; pointed or sharp edges that may injure the eyes or cause cuts and grazes; cords or string longer than 12 inches that may pose strangulation risk; and hazardous chemicals such as lead in paint and phthalates in PVC plastic that may result in health and developmental problems, the EcoWaste Coalition said.
As a prelude to the month-long campaign, the EcoWaste Coalition on November 27 to 29 bought 50 samples of toys costing P10 to P150 each from various toy stores in Divisoria, Manila and had them screened for lead, a toxic metal, using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.
Based on the XRF screening results, 20 of the 50 toy samples were found to contain lead above 90 parts per million (ppm), the threshold limit for lead in paint under the DENR Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, which also explicitly bans the use of lead in the production of toys.
Some of the samples with excessive lead content include: a “Dinosaur PVC Animal Play Set” with 4,846 ppm, a small “Kid’s World” stuffed clown with 4,300 ppm, a “Baby & Music” xylophone with 4,253 ppm, a Ninja turtle with 4,205 ppm and a soft ball with 2,182 ppm.
In addition, the group detected lead on the padlock (a metal alloy) of two coin cans with matching “Hello Kitty” pencil holders at 15,300 ppm and 16,300 ppm.
Pediatric toxicologist Dr. Bessie Antonio, a resource person of the EcoWaste Coalition, explained that young children are more vulnerable to lead exposure because they often put their hands or other objects that may contain lead paint or dust in their mouths.
“Lead interferes with normal brain development and the damage caused by chronic, low-level exposure to lead is sadly permanent. The brains and central nervous systems of young children are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead exposure,” she said.
Among the damaging effects of childhood lead exposure include decreased intelligence as measured by IQ tests, reduced school performance and behavioral problems, including aggression and violence.According to the World Health Organization, “ there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe.”