“Palit-Zipper” Drive Held to Reduce Children’s Exposure to Toxic Lead

YKK Philippines, Inc., the country’s leading fastening company, has partnered with the EcoWaste Coalition and the Melencio M. Castelo Elementary School in Quezon City to replace damaged zippers of school uniforms.

Through the “Palit-Zipper na Ligtas sa Tingga” program held today, broken zippers of school pants, shorts and skirts were replaced with lead-safe zippers without charge.

“We now know that lead in paint and dust is bad for children’s health.  Thanks to the creative and vigilant advocacy of the EcoWaste Coalition.  But, we did not realize until now that lead-coated zippers can be a potential source of exposure,” said Rodolfo Modelo, Principal of the Melencio M. Castelo Elementary School.

“We thank YKK and EcoWaste for choosing our school for this beneficial undertaking that has made us aware of the potential lead hazard in poor quality zippers and also helped reduce the back-to-school expenses for our parents,” he said.

For his part, Tadashi Koshio, who is the Executive Vice-President for Sales and Marketing of YKK Philippines Inc., said: “Our zippers and other fastening products are recognized for their high quality, durability and compliance with national and global standards.  We are happy to assure our Filipino customers that YKK zippers do not contain lead and other hazardous substances that can pose health and environmental risks.”

“Consumers need to be choosy when buying clothes, bags and other items with fastening devices as some zippers may be loaded with dangerous amounts of lead, a toxic chemical that is known to harm children’s developing brains,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Dizon cited their discovery of extremely high concentrations of lead in some school supplies as part of the group’s “get the toxics out” back-to-school campaign, including a pencil pouch and a back pack that had zippers containing 27,800  and 120,000 parts per million (ppm) of lead, respectively.

The group had also detected lead in the pull tabs and sliders of four brands of garment zippers in the range of 11,600 ppm to 45,100 ppm.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24 prohibits lead in the production of school supplies and limits lead in paint at 90 ppm.

Zippers, which are easily reached parts of basic school necessities such as bags and uniforms, must be lead-free as children are most susceptible to the health effects of lead exposure, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “children are particularly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of lead, and even relatively low levels of exposure can cause serious and in some cases irreversible neurological damage.”

“There is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe,” the WHO said.