Beware of Toxic Payong

Quezon City.  Amid the rainy weather, a public interest toxics watchdog warned parents that some kiddie umbrellas may pose chemical risk to unsuspecting children.
The EcoWaste Coalition issued the precautionary warning after finding lead and other toxic metals on the printed designs of some umbrellas that the group bought from Baclaran Bagong Milenyo Plaza in  Pasay City on Tuesday, August 5.
Using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device,  the group screened seven samples of colorful kiddie umbrellas costing P40 to P80 each and detected lead, a harmful chemical, up to 3,519 parts per million (ppm).
The government’s Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds strictly prohibits the use of lead in the manufacturing of school supplies.
“Lead was detected on the orange or yellow printed designs, and not on the umbrella fabric covers, handles, shafts, ribs and stretchers,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
“The leaded designs will break off from the fabric through normal wear and tear, and may get into the hands and mouths of innocent children who absorb lead more easily than older people like us,” he said.
“Children are exposed to lead by swallowing or breathing lead and those below six years are most at risk,” he added.  
Lead, which plays no role in the human body, can harm the brain and the central nervous system, slow down growth and development, cause learning difficulties, damage hearing and speech, and result to behavioural problems.
Aside from lead, significant levels of arsenic and chromium were also detected in most samples.
The lead-designed kiddie umbrellas include:
1.  A medium green umbrella with yellow Angry Bird design with 3,519 ppm of lead.
2.  A mini blue umbrella with yellow duck design with 3,056 ppm of lead.
3.  A mini yellow umbrella with yellow duck design with 2,638 ppm of lead.
4.  A mini pink umbrella with orange deer design with 1,088 ppm of lead.
5.  A mini red umbrella with orange puppy design with 904 ppm of lead.
6.  A mini purple umbrella with orange bear design with 325 ppm of lead.
7.  A mini green umbrella with orange deer design with 279 ppm of lead.
To prevent toxic exposure, Dizon advised consumers to examine children’s products very carefully before making any purchase. 
“A safety conscious consumer should ask for full product information, including the chemical ingredients that make up a product,” he said.
He further advised parents to regularly check the condition of items used by their kids for any signs of wear and tear, and to frequently remind kids to wash their hands thoroughly, especially before snacks or meals.
As per the World Health Organization (WHO), “lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems, including the neurologic, hematologic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and renal systems.”
WHO, which has listed lead as one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern,” 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.”