EcoWaste Coalition Warns against Monkey “Lucky Charms” Containing Lead Paint

Some monkey figurines sold as “lucky charms” in Quiapo,
Manila were found to be decorated with paints containing high levels of toxic
The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, found this out
after subjecting five of such painted figurines to chemicals screening using a
portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.
Sold ahead of the upcoming Chinese New Year of the Fire
Monkey, the locally-made figurines can be purchased from street vendors for P20
to P50 each depending on the size.
As per XRF screening, the green and yellow paint coatings
of the monkey figurines contained 2,690 to 7,800 parts per million (ppm) of
lead, exceeding the government’s limit of 90 ppm for lead in decorative paints.
Under the Department of Environment
and Natural Resources-issued regulation, leaded decorative paints are to be
phased out by December this year.
“The use of lead paint in products that are supposed to
attract good luck is unacceptable as lead is known to pollute the environment
and harm human health,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste
Coalition’s Project Protect.
“Children may be exposed to
lead as the painted surfaces of the figurines chip with time or when the
figurines are broken creating lead-contaminated dust,” he said.
“Children playing at home may pick and eat the
lead-containing paint chip or ingest the lead-containing dust through their
usual hand-to-mouth behavior,” he added.
The World Health Organization (WHO) 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.”
To protect young children from being exposed to lead in
paint and dust, the EcoWaste Coalition urged lucky charm makers to switch to
lead-safe decorative paints.
The group further asked
entrepreneurs to properly label their products in keeping with the consumer
right to information under the Consumer Act of the Philippines.
“Aside from the basic
information about their manufacturer, importer or distributor, consumers need
to know what chemicals constitute a product and what precautions, if any, are
to be taken to avoid harm.  Painted
products like household decorations, furniture and toys should carry a
‘lead-safe’ mark,” Dizon pointed out.
Lead, a toxic chemical, has been shown to harm a child’s
developing brain and central nervous system even at low levels of exposure with
life-long adverse impacts, the EcoWaste Coalition said.
Lead, according to WHO, “is a cumulative toxicant that
affects multiple body systems, including the neurologic, hematologic,
gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and renal systems.”