Toy ukuleles decorated with lead-containing paints.
Toy ukuleles that screened negative for lead content.
Some toy ukuleles, a popular bring-home gift for kids from Cebu, were found to contain lead, a chemical ingredient in some paints that can harm children’s health and development.
The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit toxics watch group based in Quezon City, made the revelation after buying last week five toy ukuleles worth P150 to P200 each from a souvenir shop in Lapu-Lapu City.
The ukuleles were subsequently screened for lead using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer.
“Lead exposure is especially harmful to children. This is why lead paint is not allowed in the production of children’s toys and related products that may expose them to this dangerous chemical,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
According to the World Health Organization, “young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead and can suffer profound and permanent adverse health effects, particularly affecting the development of the brain and nervous system.”
Among the health problems attributed to lead exposure include decreased intelligence, learning difficulties, reduced school performance, hearing loss, developmental delays, aggression and other behavioral issues.
As per XRF screening, two of the five samples were decorated with lead-containing paints above the limit of 90 parts per million (ppm).
The yellow paint used on a mango-shaped ukulele had 12,300 ppm of lead, while the pink paint on the other ukulele had 2,432 ppm of lead.
“The other three painted ukuleles were found negative for lead content, a good proof that toys can be embellished with paints that will not pose lead hazards to innocent children,” Dizon pointed out.
The EcoWaste Coalition also analyzed toy ukuleles from Cebu in 2014 and 2013. In 2014, 10 ukuleles were found to contain lead up to 26,100 ppm. In 2013, the group detected lead up to 13,900 ppm in six samples.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24), or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, strictly prohibits the use of lead in the manufacture of toys.
The Environmental Management Bureau through Memorandum Circular 2016-010 clarified “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.”
http://www.who.int/ mediacentre/factsheets/fs379/ en/