The EcoWaste Coalition today cautioned consumers against buying Christmas lights and lighting chains that may pose serious threat to public health and safety.
The non-profit citizens’ watch group likewise urged consumers to invoke their right to product safety as popular Christmas decorations such as holiday lights enjoy brisk sales in Divisoria, the country’s top shopping hub for cheap goods.
“We remind consumers to be extra vigilant in buying seasonal items such as Christmas lights as some of these products have not undergone safety evaluation and may cause electric shock, fire and chemical exposure,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
“For the safety of your family and the environment, please do invoke your right to be protected against harmful and poor quality products, which is guaranteed by the Constitution, all the time,” he emphasized.
Section 9 of Article XVI of the Constitution declares: “The State shall protect consumers from trade malpractices and from substandard or hazardous products.”
As part of the group’s campaign for a healthy and eco-friendly Christmas, the group last Sunday purchased Christmas lights from street and mall vendors in Divisoria to check if holiday lighting products conform with the regulatory requirements.
Pursuant to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Bureau of Philippine Standards (BPS) Product Certification Scheme, importers of Christmas lights are required to obtain an Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) certificate before putting their products for sale in the domestic market.
The BPS last September 2, 2016 also issued Memorandum Circular 16-04 reminding importers that “to ensure that all Christmas lights/lighting chains are affixed with the appropriate ICC stickers or Philippine Standard certification mark before distribution in the local market.”
Out of the nine samples of Christmas lights procured by the group for P50 to P250 per set, none had a valid ICC hologram sticker.
Two of these products are included in the list of valid ICC certificates and stickers for Christmas lights issued by the DTI as of October 6, 2016 and could be counterfeit goods.
None of the products gave information about their importers or distributors, which is important, especially if the consumer is to file a complaint and seek redress.
Out of nine samples, three indicated voltage and wattage specifications, and four gave instructions for safe use.
Furthermore, the EcoWaste Coalition revealed that eight samples contained lead above the 1,000 parts per million (ppm) limit under the European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS).
The top five products with the highest levels of lead based on the X-Ray Fluorescence screening conducted by the group were:
1. Lucky House, 8,783 ppm
2. Round Bead Lights, 7,188 ppm
3. 100% Copper Wire, 6,159 ppm
4. Seven Star, 5,732 ppm
5. JF, 5,681 ppm
These products would not be permitted for sale in Europe due to their non-compliance with RoHS, which limits the amount of lead, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, mercury, polybrominated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ethers in electronic and electrical equipment.
“The restricted materials are hazardous to the environment and pollute landfills, and are dangerous in terms of occupational exposure during manufacturing and recycling,” the RoHS warned.
Through a letter sent to the DTI-Bureau of Trade Regulation and Consumer Protection, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the government to take action against these non-compliant Christmas lights.
"As the public health and safety is at grave risk with the unlawful sale of substandard Christmas lights, we request your good office to undertake law enforcement action pursuant to the provisions of the DTI Administrative Order 2:2007, RA 7394 or the Consumer Act of the Philippines, and RA 4109 or the Product Standards Law," the group said..