A watch group for toxic chemicals today cautioned parents and students against buying a cheap toy commonly sold outside public elementary schools that contains high concentrations of lead, a hazardous substance.
The EcoWaste Coalition aired the warning after finding dangerous amount of lead in a toy ruler with Ninja Turtle characters. The ruler also doubles as a wrist band and comes with a crayon eraser. It is sold for P5 per packet. The product provides no information about its manufacturer, importer or distributor.
The toy ruler-wrist band was found to contain 47,000 parts per million (ppm) of lead as per X-Ray Fluorescence screening conducted by the group. No lead was detected on the crayon eraser.
“As a precaution against potential lead exposure, we advise parents not to allow their children to buy and use this toxic ruler that also functions as a wrist band,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
The product is made of a flexible metal sheet that is covered with a thin colored plastic wrapper with Ninja Turtle design.
Product examination shows that the metal sheet --- a recycled roll-up tape measure --- is coated with a yellow paint, which apparently contains lead above the regulatory restriction for lead in paint.
DENR Administrative Order 2013-24, also known as the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, sets a maximum allowable limit of 90 parts per million for total lead in paint.
The same regulation prohibits the use of lead in the production of toys as well as school supplies.
“Sooner or later, the plastic wrap will get torn with frequent use exposing the lead-coated metal strip,” Dizon warned.
“Lead can enter a child’s body through the ingestion or inhalation of lead-containing paint chip and dust,” he said.
According to the World Health Organization, “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.”
The potential for adverse effects of lead exposure is greater for children than for adults, because in children 1) the intake of lead per unit body weight is higher, 2) more dust may be ingested, 3) lead absorption in the gastrointestinal tract is higher, 4) the blood–brain barrier is not yet fully developed and 5) neurological effects occur at lower levels than in adults, the WHO said.
Primary prevention, or the elimination of exposure to lead at its source, is the single most effective intervention against childhood lead poisoning, the WHO further said.
Among other preventive measures, WHO has recommended the phase out the use of lead in paints on a worldwide basis, and the elimination of the use of lead in homes, schools, school materials and children’s toys.