As retailers enjoy brisk business with the opening of classes for School Year 2018-2019 on the way, a consumer and environmental protection group called on the authorities to intensify ongoing product safety monitoring of school supplies.
The EcoWaste Coalition pressed government regulators to keep an eye on the safety of school supplies from hazardous substances as some items on store shelves may not conform with product standards and regulations.
The group made the suggestion following the on-the-spot inspection on May 18 of retail outlets selling school supplies in Caloocan City by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) representatives.
“We surely support the government’s effort to check business compliance with the suggested retail prices (SRPs) for notebooks, writing pads, pencils, ballpens, crayons, erasers, sharpeners and rulers as contained in the DTI’s shopping guide for school supplies,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“However, the current list of school supplies being monitored should be expanded to include other must-have back-to-school items such as bags, shoes, water color sets and others. Also, the monitoring should cover compliance with the SRPs as well as product safety requirements,” he said.
“Consumers should be assured of access to affordable as well as quality and non-toxic school supplies that will not pose health risk to children,” he emphasized.
To drive their point home, the EcoWaste Coalition on May 18 procured school bags from four retail establishments in Caloocan City and had them screened for lead, a substance that is highly toxic to a child’s brain, using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence device.
The bags, sold for P130 to P309 each, do not provide basic labeling information about their manufacturers, much less about their chemical composition, the group observed.
Of the eight school bags bought and analyzed, six were found to contain lead in the range of 679 to 3,588 parts per million (ppm).
Lead is prohibited in the manufacture of school supplies as per DENR Administrative Order 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, which also bans the use of paints with lead content above 90 ppm in the production of toys and a wide array of children’s products after December 31, 2016.
In the US, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act requires that “all children’s products must not contain a concentration of lead greater than 90 ppm in paint or any similar surface coatings.” This rule also applies to all accessible component parts of a children’s product.
Studies have shown that lead exposure early in life can result in serious and irreversible damage to children's developing brains, and cause decreased intelligence, poor reading and language skills, hearing loss, aggression, attention deficit disorder and other behavioral problems.
"For our children's health, we need to get rid of all preventable sources of childhood exposure to lead, including lead-tainted consumer products such as school supplies and toys," the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.
https://www.dti.gov.ph/media/ advisories/11985-gabay-school- supplies-srp
https://chemical.emb.gov.ph/ wp-content/uploads/2017/03/MC- 2016-010.pdf
https://www.cpsc.gov/Business- -Manufacturing/Business- Education/Lead/Total-Lead- Content