Consumers warned on unsafe toys in the market
THE EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, has renewed its call for consumers to be careful with the toys they buy as some of them may contain harmful chemicals that can jeopardize children’s health.
On Friday, the group organized a free “toy clinic” outside Tutuban Mall in Divisoria to raise consumer awareness about their right to be informed and protected against hazardous chemicals in products such as toys.
The “toy clinic” was also held to call attention to the responsibility of toy makers, both foreign and local, to produce and market non-toxic goods that have passed chemical safety analysis and are properly labelled.
During the event, shoppers took turns in having their toy purchases screened for heavy metals through a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, a device that is able to detect and measure cadmium, lead, mercury and other chemicals of concern in just a few seconds.
The group’s activity came after the Department of Health (DOH) through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers about the “harms and hazards of plastic toys with heavy metals as these have been found to leach out from the toys when they are sucked or chewed” by young children.
FDA Director Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go last Tuesday issued DOH-FDA Advisory 2012-014 which, among other things, enjoined consumers and parents to check the labels for the chemical ingredients used in the manufacture of toys and the precautions appearing on the labels.
“We have come to Divisoria to remind toy consumers to be alert and cautious about the possibility of buying items with hidden toxins that could pose health risks to young users,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
“An alert and cautious consumer exercises her rights to get real value for hard-earned money, which includes being safe from undisclosed toxins prowling in products,” he said.
These rights include the rights of consumers to truthful product information, to product safety, to choose, to redress of grievances and to a healthy environment.
Among those who witnessed the toys screening event were the management and staff of Tutuban Mall, visiting green consumerism advocate from Sweden Sara Nilsson,and consumer rights advocates from Buklod Tao.
The EcoWaste Coalition’s ongoing drive to purge toxic toys out of the thriving toy market is not without a solid basis.
A pre-Christmas screening of toys bought by the group from Divisoria in September 2012 revealed that 74 of the 150 samples (49%) were laced with heavy metals above levels of concern, including lead that exceeded the US lead in paint limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) in 54 samples (36%).
Also, 148 samples (98.6%) lacked the required license to operate (LTO) number on the product labels, and none of the samples (100%) provided full product information, including a listing of their chemical ingredients.