As the holiday shopping season gets underway, a chemical safety watch group reminded consumers to be on the lookout for potentially dangerous gift products in the marketplace.
After releasing its list of hazardous toys (haztoys) last Monday, the EcoWaste Coalition today has come up with a new list of non-toy gift items that are laden with hidden toxins such as cadmium and lead.
“With Christmas just a few days away, we see consumers packing out malls to buy heaps of holiday presents for relatives, colleagues and friends. Retail stores in Divisoria, the hub of cheap finds, are enjoying brisk sales for various gifts imaginable,” observed Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“But, as we all know, not all gift items are created equal. As not all products are regulated or are compliant with quality and safety standards, it is not uncommon to find harmful chemicals in some gift items above levels of concern,” he said.
"Furthermore, these items are inadequately labeled, providing not even a clue on their toxic composition," he added.
To alert and to educate consumers about the undisclosed toxic substances lurking in some gift items, the EcoWaste Coalition on Sunday and Monday bought assorted gift items from 11/88, 168. 999 and Lucky Chinatown shopping malls in Divisoria and from retail stores in Quiapo.
The products costing P40 to P140 each were then screened for toxic metals using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.
Comprising the group’s list of 12 hazardous gifts (hazgifts) are:
1. Spongebob coffee mug, P50, with 15,800 ppm lead and 974 ppm cadmium
2. Fashion Milk Cup, P140, with 15,600 ppm lead and 2,020 ppm cadmium
3. Champion coffee mug, P70, with 12,300 ppm lead and 687 ppm cadmium
4. Xiao Dang Ja coffee mug, P60, with 11,000 ppm lead and 3,086 ppm cadmium
5. Santa Claus-themed plate, P100, with 10,500 ppm lead and 2,947 ppm cadmium
6. Christmas bells-themed plate, P40, with 6798 ppm lead and 3,855 ppm cadmium
7. Fashion Cup with Minion characters, P50, with 3,982 ppm lead and 1,661 ppm cadmium
8. Christmas ball-themed plate, P40, with 3,441 ppm lead and 1,207 ppm cadmium
9. Enfill de Jouer coin purse, P50, with 2,678 ppm lead
10. Santa Claus coffee mug, P40, with 3,298 ppm lead and 2,288 ppm cadmium
11. Saglife black and yellow body bag, P100, with 1,511 ppm lead
12. Pikachu sling bag, P80, with 1,079 ppm lead and 222 ppm cadmium
"Cadmium exerts toxic effects on the kidney, the skeletal and the respiratory systems, and is classified as a human carcinogen," according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Lead, according to the WHO, is "a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems, including the neurologic, hematologic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and renal systems."
Cadmium and lead belong to WHO’s list of “ten chemicals of major public health concern."
Cadmium and lead and their compounds are also listed in the Philippine Priority Chemicals List, which includes chemical substances that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has “determined to potentially pose unreasonable risk to public health, workplace, and the environment.”