school art material laden with lead, a chemical that can harm a child’s brain,
is being sold to trusting consumers in Lapu Lapu City.
The EcoWaste Coalition, a Quezon City-based toxics watchdog, made the
revelation after buying banned “Artex Fine Water Colors” for P40 to P59.75 per
set from 3 retail outlets in the city on Saturday, June 14.
The group’s AlerToxic Patrol went to 6 shops in Lapu Lapu City and bought
the forbidden product at La Nueva Supermart, Marnikko School and Office
Supplies and Society Store (Stall No. 10) of the Public Market.
The group was pleased not to find the banned product in 3 other shops: CMT
Trading, Metro Super and Unitop.
The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) had banned the said product on May 29,
2014 for containing high levels of lead following a complaint lodged by the
“Lead is a dangerous neurotoxin that can permanently damage a child’s
developing brain if inhaled or swallowed and should not be present in school
supplies and toys,” warned Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWasteCoalition.
Lead is strictly prohibited in the production of school supplies and toys under
the “Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds” issued by the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources last December 2013.
Lucero’s group has just concluded hosting the European Union-funded “Asian Lead
Paint Elimination Project” workshop in Lapu Lapu City that drew participants
from 10 countries from Asia, Europe and North America.
“Retailers should only sell school supplies that have secured market
authorization to avoid selling items laden with lead and other hazardous
substances that can hinder children’s growth and development,” she said.
Among the adverse health effects of lead exposure are delayed mental and
physical development, learning deficiencies, shortened attention span, hearing
difficulties, lower IQ and behavioral problems.
FDA Advisory No. 2014-044 dated May 29, 2014 confirmed the high levels of lead
above “the maximum tolerable limit of 90 parts per million (ppm)” in samples of
Artex Fine Water Colors.
The FDA Central Laboratory found 2 samples of Artex laden with 3,342 ppm and
5,089 ppm of lead. Even higher levels of
lead were found by SGS, a global testing company, on 3 samples submitted by the
EcoWaste Coalition for analysis, which had 5,900 ppm, 17,000 ppm and 37,000 ppm
Through the advisory, FDA’s field officers were ordered to seize the said
product, close down the unlicensed supplier, and further continue
monitoring unregistered school supplies and do-it-yourself products that may
pose risks to the health of children.
The FDA’s action was in response to the report made by the EcoWaste Coalition
in April 2014.
In its letter to the group, the FDA stated that Venus Commercial Co., Inc.,
manufacturer of Artex Fine Water Colors, “has no valid license to operate (LTO)
and that the product is not registered/notified nor is there pending applicaton
for the registration/notification of the product.”