Beware: some dog-inspired “lucky charms” sold by street vendors are decorated with lead-containing paints that can spell trouble for your children’s brains and their health.
The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, made the revelation after purchasing eight samples of such lucky charms that are supposed to enhance an auspicious 2018 year of the dog for P25 to P250 from street vendors in Quiapo, Manila.
The items were screened for lead, a toxic metal, using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.
The XRF readings indicated the presence of lead in four samples in the range of 205 to 6,578 parts per million (ppm) exceeding the regulatory limit of 90 ppm. No lead was detected in the other four samples.
Lead exposure among children even at low doses can disrupt brain development and cause lifelong learning and behavioral problems, while exposure among women and workers can result in miscarriage, reduced sperm count, hypertension and many other lead-induced health problems, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.
“The use of lead paint in products that are meant to attract good luck is objectionable as lead is known to be harmful, especially for children,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that “children are particularly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of lead, and even relatively low levels of exposure can cause serious and in some cases irreversible neurological damage.”
“While not intended for children’s use, kids may be attracted to play with these dog-inspired lucky charms and expose them to lead in paint, a common source of childhood lead exposure,” Dizon said.
“The lead painted surfaces may chip over time or when the product is broken. Children may pick and eat the lead-containing paint chip or ingest the lead- contaminated dust through their typical hand-to-mouth behavior,” he explained.
The government through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, directed the phase-out of lead-containing architectural, household and decorative paints from 2013-2016.
To avoid children’s exposure to lead, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to demand chemicals in product information and to shun products with undisclosed chemical content.
The group urged lucky charm vendors to obtain a certificate of laboratory analysis from manufacturers, importers or distributors confirming that a product does not contain lead and other chemicals of concern such as arsenic, cadmium, hexavalent chromium and mercury above “allowable” limits.
The group further urged lucky charm makers to properly label their products in line with the consumer right to information, which is protected under the Consumer Act of the Philippines, noting that none of the eight products provided basic labeling information about their manufacturer, importer or distributor.
“Consumers should have access to adequate, truthful and understandable product information, which is essential in the exercise of the consumer right to choose and to complain and seek redress against hazardous and shoddy goods,” Dizon said.