EcoWaste Coalition Urges Consumers to Pick Toxic-Free Aquatic Toys

Inflatable toys on sale in Carriedo St., Quiapo, Manila
An inflatable toy with labeling information that says "no hazardous substances," and "phthalate-free."  This product is available in legitimate retail stores.

As families plan for summer outings during the long weekend due to the ASEAN Summit and Labor Day, a chemical safety advocacy group reminded consumers to choose toxic-free swimming toys and to use them with care.

The EcoWaste Coalition said that some inflatable toys contain toxic phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates), which are chemical additives that make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic softer and pliable, above the government limit of 0.1% by weight.  Phthalates are known endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).

The group made a pitch for phthalate-free beach and pool balls, floaties and rings following the issuance of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Advisory 2017-094 on the proper selection and use of aquatic toys.

“We urge all consumers to observe the FDA reminders when buying and using aquatic toys to avoid risk of death by drowning, brain injury by near-drowning and other preventable injuries,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition's Project Protect.

“In addition to the FDA’s practical safety reminders, we advise consumers to demand for inflatable toys that are compliant with the government’s order banning certain phthalates above 0.1% in children’s toys,” he said.

As a basic rule, consumers are advised to carefully read the labeling information on the packaging, to choose toys that are suitable for the child’s age, abilities and skill level, and to follow the instructions and/or weight recommendations carefully for proper assembly and use.

“Check the label for the age grading, item/ model/ SKU number, warning/ cautionary statements, complete name and address of the company and license to operate number (LTO No.) of the local company responsible for placing the product in the market,” the FDA said.

“It shall be unlawful to manufacture for sale, offer for sale, distribute in commerce, or import into the country any children’s toy that contains concentration of more than 0.1% of di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP) or benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP),” stated the Department of Health (DOH) Administrative Order 2009-0005-A as amended in December 2011.

The same policy prohibits diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), or di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP) in any children’s toy that can be placed in a child’s mouth in concentrations above 0.1% by weight.

Dizon pointed out that three of the four samples of inflatable toys sent by the EcoWaste Coalition to a private laboratory in 2015 failed the phthalate tests.  All three were found to contain DEHP up to 19.6% and two had DINP up to 1.29%.

The fourth sample with a “phthalate-free” claim on the label passed the laboratory analysis for the banned phthalates.

According to the guide on EDCs published by the Endocrine Society and IPEN (a global NGO network promoting safe chemicals policies and practices), “phthalate exposure is linked to genital abnormalities in boys, reduced sperm counts, decreased ‘male typical’ play in boys, endometriosis, and elements of metabolic disruption including obesity.”

A World Health Organization's report states that "the diverse systems affected by EDCs likely include all hormonal systems," and that "the effects on these systems can lead to obesity, infertility or reduced fertility, learning and memory difficulties, adult-onset diabetes or cardiovascular disease, as well as a variety of other diseases."

The use of some phthalates in the manufacturing of toys has been restricted in the European Union since 1999, in US in 2008 and in the Philippines in 2011.




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