The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit watch group on toxic chemicals, lauded the dwindling use of lead-containing paints for locally-made turumpo (cone-shaped whipping top), a popular summer toy for boys.
In its latest screening of paint-coated turumpo using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, 16 of the 22 samples bought from toy retailers in Divisoria, Manila were found to contain no detectable lead. The other six samples had lead in the range of 188 to 2,145 parts per million (ppm).
Compared to the turumpo sampling it conducted in 2014, the EcoWaste Coalition detected high concentrations of lead up to 15,100 ppm in 31 out of 33 samples.
“We are thrilled by the significant decline in the number of turumpo that are decorated with lead-containing paints as our screening results would show. This is good for children’s health, especially for their brains,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
Lead, a chemical poison that targets, among other organs, the brain and the nervous system, is considered one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Studies have linked childhood lead exposure to lowered IQ, speech and language difficulties, hearing loss, decreased bone and muscle growth, increased blood pressure, kidney damage and behavioral problems, including aggression and violence.
“The makers of lead-free turumpo should get their products duly registered and labeled to facilitate informed choice by consumers,” Dizon said.
“Those who are still using lead-containing paints should stop the use of such paints, which can chip off as the turumpo is hit and damaged by players. Children may be exposed to lead in paint flakes or dust via ingestion or inhalation,” he added.
“As a precaution against potential lead exposure, we advise consumers, particularly the kids, to opt for plain, unpainted turumpo since there is no labeling information that will distinguish lead-free painted turumpo from those which are not, and to exercise extreme care when playing with any turumpo, painted or not,” he said.
The group conducted the turumpo sampling, which is part of its toxic-free summer advocacy, to determine industry compliance to a government directive banning lead in the production of toys.
As per Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, the use of lead in the manufacturing of toys, among other items, is prohibited.
The Environmental Management Bureau through Memorandum Circular 10, Series of 2016, further clarified that “the manufacture, processing, sale, distribution and use of paints with more than 90 ppm of lead and lead compounds in the production of toys and related products shall be prohibited after December 31, 2016.”