The EcoWaste Coalition had detected significant amounts of lead in charms made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic that are added onto loom band bracelets as extra ornaments.
Lead, the watchdog emphasized, is a potent neurotoxin that can damage the brain and the central nervous system and harm almost all body organs, with children under six most at risk.
“Not all loom band charms are created equal. Some are loaded with hazardous substances that should not be found in children’s products. Parents should therefore exercise utmost caution and care when buying play things to safeguard their kids from unwanted chemical risks,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
Out of the 125 pieces of cheap loom band charms that the group bought from various retailers at 999 Shopping Mall in Divisoria, Manila, 61 pieces (49%) screened positive for lead using an X-Ray Fluorescence spectrometer.
Lead, which is banned in the production of toys under the “Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds,” was found in the range of 406 to 3,289 parts per million (ppm). Twenty-six of the 61 lead-containing charms had lead above 1,000 ppm.
“This does not come as a surprise as PVC toys are notorious for containing many toxic additives, including lead as pigment or stabilizer and phthalate as plasticizer or softening agent in vinyl plastic,” Dizon explained.
The group’s latest action was triggered by fresh media reports from Europe about loom band charms with very high level of toxic phthalates in them.
Researchers at Birmingham Assay Office in the United Kingdom had detected high concentrations of phthalates in some counterfeit charms with some samples having as much as 50% phthalates by weight, way above the 0.1 % threshold limit.
Original Rainbow Loom’s products were found safe from such harmful chemicals, which are severely restricted in toys and childcare articles even in the Philippines.
As per Department of Health Administrative Order 2009-0005-A, phthalates DEHP, DBP and BBP are prohibited in children’s toys, while phthalates DINP, DIDP and DnOP are prohibited in toys that can be placed in a child’s mouth, in amounts exceeding the 0.1 percent limit by weight.
Classified as endocrine disrupting chemicals or EDCs, phthalates have been blamed for genital deformities such as deformed penises and undescended testicles, for developmental abnormalities such as cleft palate, for the early onset of puberty and other health problems, including cancer.
The EcoWaste Coalition’s discovery of lead and the UK’s laboratory detection of phthalates in some knockoff loom band charms give credence to Rainbow Loom’s warning against counterfeit products, Dizon noted.
Rainbow Loom had earlier warned that “the fake looms have not been tested for toy safety requirements and may contain lead and other toxic substances.”
The EcoWaste Coalition and the Philippine Animal Welfare Society earlier cautioned loom band fans about the hazards posed by indigestible rubber bands to young kids and pet animals.