Divisoria Vendors Urged Not to Sell Lead-Tainted Water Colors (Group Launches “Waste-Free, Toxic-Free Back-to-School” Campaign)


An environmental watchdog
asked vendors to desist from selling a lead-laden brand of water colors
as stalls selling school supplies began sprouting in Divisoria, the
famous hub for bargain hunters and low budget shoppers.

To fire
up its month-long “waste-free, toxic-free back-to-school” campaign
starting May 15, the EcoWaste Coalition urged Divisoria’s discount
retailers to stop selling “Artex Fine Water Colors” after the group’s
AlerToxic Patrol found the product being sold at sidewalk stores in Juan
Luna Street and Recto Avenue for P65 to P68 per set.

analysis commissioned by the group had confirmed the presence of
elevated levels of lead up to 37,000  parts per million (ppm) in Artex
Fine Water Colors in downright violation of a government’s regulation
aimed at protecting the public from being exposed to lead, a toxic
chemical linked to permanent cognitive and behavioral problems.

Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds promulgated by the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) strictly
prohibits the use of lead in the manufacturing of school supplies, among

“This appeal is the opening salvo in our campaign to
raise public awareness and action against products and practices that
pose health and safety hazards, especially to kids who are set to enter
or return to school.  Experts have warned that even low levels of lead
in blood can result to a child’s decreased intelligence and school
performance, as well as aggressive behavior,” said Thony Dizon,
Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

direct this appeal to the vendors of school supplies after our plea for
the local manufacturer of Artex Fine Water Colors to voluntarily recall
their lead-tainted product had fallen on deaf ears,” he explained.

the same time, we ask the authorities to issue a cease and desist order
against the manufacturer to   compel it to halt the distribution and
sale of the said product and bring about their removal from the market,”
he added.

Dizon recalled reaching out to Venus Commercial Co.,
maker of Artex Fine Water Colors, via letters, phone calls and visit to
their office in Malabon City, to request the firm to withdraw its leaded
product from the market, switch to non-lead  materials and duly mark
reformulated products as “non-toxic” and/or “no lead added”  to assist
consumers in making informed choice.

Lead “is a cumulative
toxicant that affects multiple body systems, including the neurologic,
hematologic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and renal systems,“ as
per fact sheet by the World Health Organization (WHO), which categorizes
lead as one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern.”
to WHO, “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.”

Based on the
examination conducted by SGS (a global testing company) using
inductively coupled plasma – atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES/AAS),
the three samples of Artex Fine Water Colors submitted by the EcoWaste
Coalition for analysis had total lead content of 5,900 ppm, 17,000 ppm
and 37,000 ppm on their respective yellow lump.

Armed with the
laboratory results, the EcoWaste Coalition duly informed key government
agencies such as the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Trade and
Industry (DTI) and DENR.

In response to the report filed by the
EcoWaste Coalition, the DTI – Bureau of Trade Regulation and Consumer
Protection (DTI-BTRCP) contacted other regulatory agencies for
appropriate action.

According to the action report submitted by
the DOH – Food and Drugs Administration (DOH-FDA) to the DTI-BTRCP,
Venus Commercial Co. has  “no valid license to operate (LTO) nor has
pending application for issuance of LTO.”

With respect to Artex
Fine Water Colors, “the product is not registered/notified nor is there
pending application for registration/notification,” the DOH-FDA action
report said.