EcoWaste Coalition Questions Use of Lead Paint on Coffee Mugs and Tea Cups

Top Photo: Mugs with lead-designs.
Middle Photo: Mug with highest level of lead on the design.
Bottom Photo: Mugs without lead.

The right level of toxic lead in coffee mugs, tea cups and other products used for food and drinks is zero!

The toxics watchdog EcoWaste Coalition contended for zero lead in coffee mugs and tea cups after finding dreadful levels of the notorious brain toxin and endocrine disrupting chemical on paints used to decorate such common household products that people use every day.
“Our latest probe shows the pervasive use of lead paint in coffee mugs and tea cups being sold in the market, and points to the need for a precautionary policy that will ban its use on food and beverage containers based on total lead content,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
“As a precaution against possible human exposure, lead, as well as other toxins, should not be present in all beverage and food containers,” he insisted.
“Banning lead on cups, mugs and other containers will be consistent with the government’s landmark regulatory policy on lead,” he added.
Last December, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued DENR Administrative Order 2013-24, also known as  the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, which explicitly prohibits the use of lead in the manufacturing of packaging for food and drinks.
The policy also establishes a threshold limit for lead in paints at 90 parts per million (ppm) and sets a phaseout period until 2016 for leaded decorative paints and 2019 for leaded industrial paints.
Out of 50 samples  that were subjected to chemical screening using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, 42 (84%) were found to contain lead from 3,244  ppm to 31,000 ppm.  Lead was specifically detected in the painted design on the exterior of the cup or mug.
Some of the lead-laced mugs were obviously cashing in on the unauthorized use of popular product logos such as “KFC,””M&M’s,”  “McDonald’s,” “Nescafe,” and “Nestea.”
On the other hand, 8 samples were found to contain no detectable levels of lead, including one with a elaborate design, indicating that cups and mugs can still have intricate designs and bright colors without using lead paints.
The samples, mostly unlabelled, were bought last week for P18 to P55/piece from discount stores and shopping malls in Divisoria, Quiapo and Sta. Cruz, Manila City, Monumento, Caloocan City, Baclaran, Pasay City and Cubao, Quezon City.
“Making it more worrisome,  tainted cups or mugs often contain a combo of lead, cadmium, chromium, antimony and arsenic at exceedingly high levels and no one really knows the effects of combined exposure to these chemicals on a person’s health,” he said.
For example, the “M&M’s” coffee mug had 31,000 ppm lead, 5,250 chromium, 3,872 ppm arsenic, 2,387 cadmium and 809 ppm antimony.
These substances can also contaminate the environment once the tainted cups or mugs are discarded and sent to the dumpsites or landfills, exacerbating the toxicity of garbage polluting the soil and the surface and ground water.
Citing information from the World Health Organization, the EcoWaste Coalition warned that  lead “is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems, including the neurologic, hematologic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and renal systems,“ stressing that lead is detrimental to human health even at very low levels of exposure. 
Chronic lead exposure among children has been shown to cause brain and nervous system damage, learning disabilities, lower IQ, attention deficit disorder, aggression and other behavioral issues and more.  Higher levels of exposure may lead to anemia, seizures, coma and death.
In adults, the key lead-induced health effects include fatigue, impaired concentration, wrist or foot drop, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, miscarriage, reduced sperm count and motility, hypertension and others.
The list of top 15 coffee mugs and tea cups with outrageous levels of lead include as screened by the EcoWaste Coalition includes:

1.  A coffee mug with “M&M’s” logo, P20, 29,600 ppm of lead
2.  A yellow coffee mug with a fun message, P25, with 29,800 ppm
3.  A big frosted glass coffee mug with floral design, P50, 19,900 ppm
4.  A coffee mug with “Fantastic Friend” message, P25, 19,700 ppm
5.  A red “Manchester United” coffee mug,  P29, 19,100 ppm
6.  A tall glass “Angry Birds” coffee mug, P35, 17,700 ppm
7.  A small coffee mug with black, blue and orange dots, P30, 16,900 ppm
8.  A coffee mug with black, gray and red flowers,  P55, 12,200 ppm
9.  A big tea cup with black and yellow flower design, P55, 10,600 ppm
10. A “Brown Cow Cocoa” coffee mug, P20, 10,500 ppm
11. A small coffee mug with blue, orange and yellow circles, P30, 9,914 ppm
12. A small tea cup with butterfly and flower motif, P19, 9,842 ppm
13. A “Yo Fido Dido” coffee mug, P25, 9,219 ppm  
14. A “Hello Kitty” coffee mug, P25, 8,985 ppm
15. A “Fido We are Here” coffee mug, P25, 8,653 ppm
In the meantime, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated its keen interest to continue helping the government in identifying other sources of lead pollution in the marketplace to protect the public health and the environment.

1 Comment

  • This is to thank Eco Waste Coalition for its advocacy to work for a safe and healthy environment. I would like to write about my concern about the safety of century eggs being served in many local restaurants. A traditional way to make century eggs require the use of lead oxide. I hope that the century eggs served in local restaurants are not processed using this chemical and are safe to eat.

    I hope that the Ecowaste coalition check on this matter.

    Thank you and more power.