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30% of imported toys have at least 1 harmful chemical

MANILA, Philippines – At least 30 percent of 200 imported, and locally-made children’s products purchased from shops in Metro Manila were tested with at least one harmful chemical, a study conducted by a local anti-toxic watchdog revealed Wednesday.

Ecological Waste Coalition (EcoWaste), in collaboration with the International POPs (persistent organic pollutants) Elimination Network (IPEN), conducted a study titled “State of the Toys Analysis”, which found that 60 out of 200 products bought from various Metro Manila stores tested with toxic metals above levels of concern, while70 percent of the products did not contain toxic metals or contained low levels of them.

Chemicals found in toys and other children’s products sold in bargain stores and malls in Baclaran, Pasay City; Divisoria, Manila; Cubao, Quezon City; Makati City; and Pasig City include antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury.

Visiting American scientist Dr. Joseph Di Gangi conducted the tests from July 17 to 19 using a portable X-Ray Flourescence (XRF) analyzer that is widely used by the private sector and regulatory agencies such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The study particularly showed that of the 200 samples, 37 products (19 percent) were found in violation of the United States regulatory limit for lead, a neurotoxin with no safe level of exposure, with values ranging from 90 parts per million (ppm) to over 12,000 ppm.

“The lead-tainted products included a variety of cars and dolls, fake food items which invited chewing, cosmetics that are applied directly to the skin and floor matting which commonly used to cushion areas where infants play,” EcoWaste noted.

The study also found three children’s cosmetic products containing mercury, another neurotoxin, at levels significantly higher than the regulatory limit in the Philippines of 1 ppm, ranging from 4 to 77 ppm.

The products included lipstick and eye shadows designed to be applied directly to the lips and skin.

Thony Dizon, coordinator of EcoWaste’s Project Protect appealed to the business community not to engage in production, trade and sale of toys and other children’s products containing toxic metals and other injurious substances such as those listed on the “Priority Chemical List” of the country.

EcoWaste cited that Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director Dr. Suzette Lazo has endorsed the initiatives of EcoWaste and IPEN in conducting a research survey on the presence of toxic elements in consumer products especially those critical to vulnerable groups of the society such as children.

Dr. Lazo also noted “the availability of breakthrough technology that can quickly and accurately test for the presence of harmful chemicals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium and arsenic in consumer products can significantly boost monitoring efforts and prevent unsafe products from being marketed to unsuspecting consumers. (Ellalyn B. de Vera)