Kids’ Plastic Slippers Found Laced with Toxic Lead

 Rubber slippers with no detectable level of lead and other toxic metals.

PVC plastic slippers with lead and other heavy metals above levels of concern.

A brain-damaging chemical which has
no place in children’s products was detected in 18 polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
plastic slippers sold by discount shops and sidewalk vendors in the city of

The EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force on Chemical Safety made the disclosure
after subjecting 25 pairs of mostly unlabelled plastic and rubber slippers to a
chemical analysis using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.

The samples, mostly featuring popular cartoon characters such as Ben 10, Snow
White and Spiderman, were bought on March 7-9 for P20 to P65 each from informal
vendors plying their trade at Lacson Underpass in Quiapo, Rizal Ave. in Sta.
Cruz, Recto Ave. in Divisoria, M. Roxas St. in Sta. Ana, and Pedro Gil St. in

Out of the 25 samples, 18 (72 %) showed high levels of lead exceeding the 90
parts per million (ppm) limit set by the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement
Act (CPSIA).

As per CPSIA, children’s products that are designed or intended primarily for
use by children 12 years of age or younger, must not contain a concentration of
lead greater than 90 ppm in paint or any similar surface coatings.

“The bad news is all the plastic slippers we tested had lead ranging from 542
to 2,391 ppm, which could come from the lead additive in the paint coatings and
the lead stabilizer in PVC,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste
Coalition’s Project Protect.

All the lead-laden samples were made of PVC plastic, which contains loads of
synthetic ingredients, including known endocrine disrupting chemicals, that can
disperse or leach out of the material and pose risks to human health and the

“Lead and other toxic ingredients in slippers can spread out into the
surroundings as a result of normal wear and tear from their daily use and gets
on children’s hands through the house dust and eventually into their mouths, adding
to childhood exposure to lead,” he explained.

“Also, all of these leaded-slippers contain one or more toxic chemicals,
including antimony, arsenic, cadmium and chromium, above levels of concern,” he

“The good news is the rubber slippers we tested, which are equally affordable,
attractive and colorful, had no detectable level of lead and other heavy
metals, indicating that slippers could be made without using these toxic
chemicals,”he added.

Dizon clarified that the XRF is not able to analyze other substances of concern
in plastic and rubber slippers such as azo dyes, phthalates, polyaromatic
hydrocarbons and tin organic compounds.

Based on the investigation conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition, PVC plastic
slippers would generally have a glossy coating, a coarse surface, a firmer
sole, a strong chemical smell and would be a bit heavier.

Rubber slippers, on the other hand, would usually have less gleaming design, a
smoother surface, a softer touch, a rubbery smell and a lighter weight.

Quoting a global study on plastic shoes by the Swedish Society for Nature
Conservation of which it took part, the EcoWaste Coalition said that “lead is
one of the worst environmental toxins and can accumulate in the body, primarily
in the skeleton where it can damage the bone marrow and impair the body’s
formation of red blood cells.”

The study said that “lead affects neurological functions that can be measured
in the form of declining intelligence.”

According to the study, EU classifies lead compounds as “hazardous when inhaled
or consumed” and states that they “can accumulate in the body and cause
damage,” “harm the unborn child” and be a “possible cause of impaired

Lead and lead compounds are highly toxic to aquatic
organisms, the report said.
The EcoWaste Coalition is a national network of more than
150 public interest groups pursuing sustainable and just solutions to waste,
climate change and chemical issues towards the envisioned Zero Waste 2020 goal.