EcoWaste Coalition Launches “Kid-Safe Toys for Zero Harm, Zero Waste” Pre-Christmas Campaign

pre-Christmas shopping slowly but surely picks up with the start of the “ber”
months, a health and environmental watchdog promptly reminded consumers to go
for safe children’s toys.

In a bid to spread toy safety information during
the festive season, the EcoWaste Coalition in a press briefing today unveiled a
campaign around the theme “Kid-Safe Toys for Zero Harm, Zero Waste.”

“Through this campaign, we hope to enhance consumer
alertness against lurking hazards in toy stores and the need to be extra cautious
when making a purchase to protect the health and safety of our children, as
well as protect the environment from waste and pollution,” said Thony Dizon,
Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“By ‘kid-safe toys,’ we mean products intended for
use by children for learning or playing that pose no hazard to their growing
minds and bodies and the surroundings,” he explained.

Common toy hazards that consumers need to be on the
lookout include choking, ingestion and inhalation hazards, as well as chemical,
electrical, flammability, microbiological and mechanical hazards, which
includes hearing damage, sharpness and puncture and strangulation hazards, the
group said.

During the months leading to Christmas, the
EcoWaste Coalition will conduct a series of public information activities on
various toy hazards, perform toy screening, carry out market surveillance and coordinate
with responsible agencies and establishments for remedial action.

For starters, the group on August 29 and 31 shopped
for 125 toys costing P4 to 140 each from various toy retailers and wholesalers
at 11/88 Shopping, 168 Shopping Mall, 999 Shopping Mall, City Place Square
Mall, Lucky Chinatown Mall, New Divisoria Commercial Center and Tutuban Prime
Block Mall in Divisoria, Manila.

Among the group’s salient findings for this round
of toy sampling were:

a.  None of the samples provided complete
product labeling information; only 1 item has a License to Operate (LTO) number,
but its authenticity could not be ascertained. 

b.  74 of the samples provided choking hazard
warning, but provided no other cautionary warnings for other potential toy hazards; 
52 samples suggested age for intended use.

c.  Only 3  samples supplied information about their
chemical ingredients; a set of 3 mini dolls had cadmium, a human carcinogen, above
1,000 parts per million (ppm) each.

d.  24  of the samples had lead in violation of the
DENR Chemical Control for Lead and Lead Compounds strictly prohibiting the use
of lead in the manufacturing of toys; worst samples include a toy ladybug
costing P20 with 46,000 ppm of lead, a toy chair,   P150,  with 10,100
ppm of lead, and a toy cartoon sedan, P50, with 4,138 ppm of lead.

e.  All soap bubble toys had minimal to zero product information; European
countries have recalled dozens of soap bubbles due to microbiological risk
related to high count of pathogenic bacteria or microorganisms.

f.   17 of
the samples are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic that may pose chemical
risk due to the presence of banned phthalate plasticizers used to soften PVC;
among the items found was a doll identical to the one sent by the EcoWaste
Coalition for laboratory for analysis and found to contain 16.70% of phthalate
DEHP, a probable human carcinogen, way above the 0.1% limit.

To guide consumers in selecting kid-safe toys, the
EcoWaste Coalition has put forward the following tips:
  1. Read the product label
    very carefully: pay attention to the warnings, age recommendation and
    safety instructions; look for the product manufacturing details and the
    LTO number, which is issued to authorized toy manufacturer, importer or
  2. Select toys that are
    appropriate for the child’s age, aptitude, skill and temperament, and follow
    the age recommendation.
  3. Look for toys that are
    bigger than a child’s mouth to avoid choking (“the smaller the child, the
    bigger the toy”); avoid toys that can easily break into small parts or
    with small unsecured components that may be ingested or placed in the nose
    or the ears.
  4. Buy toys from reliable
    traders and obtain a valid proof of purchase to facilitate replacement,
    refund, compensation or warranty claim if needed.
  5. Watch out for toxic
    toys or play things laden with health-damaging chemicals such as antimony,
    arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury and phthalates.
  6. Avoid toys with paint
    coatings – unless certified as lead-safe – to prevent kids from being
    poisoned when they bite, chew, lick or swallow toys with lead
  7. Avoid PVC toys that
    contain many hidden toxic additives such as heavy metals and phthalates.
  8. Avoid art toys and
    play cosmetics that are not confirmed as non-toxic.
  9. Avoid toys that shoot
    small or pointed objects into the air that may cause eye or body injuries.
  10. Avoid toys that have
    sharp edges or points that may bruise or cut a child’s sensitive skin.
  11. Avoid toys with cords or strings longer than 12 inches that may
    wrap around a child’s neck and cut off a child’s circulation.
  12. Avoid musical toys, rattles
    and squeeze objects making too loud noises or shrills that can damage a child’s
    sensitive hearing.
  13. Avoid stuffed toys
    with small parts such as buttons or eyes that may be pulled loose and
    swallowed by a child; avoid those with pellet-like stuffing that may get
    into a child’s hand and mouth when
    the toy breaks open; watch out for broken parts, seams and edges; and opt
    for washable stuffed toys.
  14. Avoid battery-operated
    toys that are not firmly secured as batteries and their chemical
    ingredients may cause internal bleeding, chemical burns and choking when
  15. Avoid toys that tend
    to induce aggression and violence such as toy guns, knives and other toy
After buying a toy, the EcoWaste Coalition advised
consumers to:
1.    Remove
and keep the toy plastic packaging out of children’s reach to avoid risk of
suffocation.  Refrain from throwing
reusable toy boxes and wrappers to the bin; find other functional uses for toy
packaging to reduce waste.
2.     Follow
carefully the procedures for proper toy assembly and use and keep the
instructions for reference.
3.    Teach a child how to play safely, and closely
supervise small children to help prevent any untoward incidents.
4.     Check
toys regularly for signs of wear or broken pieces that may cause injury, and keep
toys clean.
5.      Teach
a child to put toys away after play to avoid accidents.