Advocacy Health and Safety Lead Paint Toxic Products Toxic Toys

Chinese New Year Warning: Watch Out for Toxic Piggy Banks and Decors

3 February 2019, Quezon City. A waste and pollution watch group has advised consumers to be cautious of lead-glazed or lead-painted piggy banks and pig-inspired decorations as the Chinese New Year is celebrated starting Wednesday, 5 February.

The EcoWaste Coalition made the warning after detecting high concentrations of lead in three out of 10 pig-inspired coin containers and related adornments to welcome the year of the earth pig, the 12th of the Chinese zodiac animals.

“Lead-tainted ceramic piggy banks and related decors could end up in the hands of curious children who love to play with colorful and nice-looking figures,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Lead exposure may occur if the product is broken or if its surface is chipped or corroded,” he pointed out.

As part of the group’s campaign for a toxics-free Philippines, the EcoWaste Coalition last week bought 10 pig-inspired items costing P35 to P200 each from retailers in Makati, Manila and Quezon Cities.

Based on chemical screening using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, three ceramic samples were found to contain 3,090, 4,929 and 5,042 parts per million (ppm) of lead, respectively.

Lead maybe attributed to the glaze used to give the products glasslike or smooth finish or to the colorful coatings used.

All the sampled products had no labels, and provided no information about their chemical composition.

“As safer substitutes are available on the market, we advise consumers to stay away from products containing lead,” Dizon said.

“Not patronizing lead-containing products sends a clear message to the industry that consumers nowadays prefer safer products that will not put the health of children at risk,” he stated.

“We also do not want any of the broken, chipped or corroded piggy banks and Chinese New Year decorations to add to the toxicity of our household waste,” he added.

Lead, a highly toxic substance can affect people of all ages, and can harm children and unborn babies at much lower levels of exposure, the group warned. As a cumulative toxicant, lead builds up in the body, so even small quantities can pose a health hazard over time, it added.

Long-term effects of lead exposure include, among other things, mental retardation and other learning disabilities, language, speech and hearing disorders, attention deficit and other mental problems, aggression and other behavioral challenges.