Above: Shot glasses with lead on the glass designs. Below: Shot glasses without lead on the glass designs.
Tagay, the popular alcohol drinking session among friends and neighbors, would be less fun if the shot glass that is being passed around had lead on it.
The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, made this important point after detecting high levels of lead on some shot glasses decorated with colorful images or designs.
“The shot glass is a key piece of the fraternal tagay where friends take turns drinking their favorite beer or liquor using a single glass,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
“The bad news is most of the shot glasses we bought and screened for harmful chemicals were positive for lead, a brain damaging and endocrine disrupting chemical,” he said.
“The good news is we also found colorfully decorated shot glasses without traces of lead,” he added.
Out of the 15 shot glasses that the group bought from Manila and Quezon Cities for P6 to P94.75, 13 there found to contain lead up to 74,800 parts per million (ppm), way up the 90 ppm targeted permissible limit for lead in paints.
The other two shot glasses (one with handpainted drawing of a calesa and the other one a vinta) had no detectable lead, which clearly indicates the availability of lead safe alternatives.
The group used a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence device to screen the samples for toxic metals like antimony, arsenic, cadmium , chromium and lead.
“Drinkers should not only be mindful of the hygiene issue when it comes to sharing shot glass. They also need to be wary of the lead on the painted design that could chip and get ingested by the person drinking from the glass. There is no known amount of lead that will not cause harm to human health,” Dizon.
While young children are most susceptible to lead exposure, both adult men and women can be harmed as well since lead is toxic to many organs and can damage the nervous, cardiovascular, digestive, hematologic, renal and reproductive systems as confirmed by the World Health Organization and other public health bodies.
Examples of lead-induced health effects on adults include fatigue, impaired concentration, hearing loss, seizures, lead line on gingival tissue, miscarriage, reduced sperm count and motility, abnormal sperm, anemia, and hypertension.
As no safe threshold for lead exposure has been identified, it’s essential to curb all potential sources of lead pollution in the environment, including lead paints and products coated or decorated with lead paints such as coffee mugs, tea cups, drinking glasses and even shot glasses, the EcoWaste Coalition said.
The group had earlier reported finding excessive levels of lead in 42 out of 50 samples of coffee mugs and tea cups, and 90 out of 100 samples of drinking glasses. Lead was detected on the colorful designs of the samples.
Based on the screening conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition, the following shot glasses were found positive for lead:
1. A shot glass with red and yellow flowers, P10, 74,800 ppm.
2. A shot glass with Philippine flag and the word “Wow”, P69.75, 55,000 ppm
3. A shot glass with a tricycle drawing, P40, 40,000 ppm
4. A shot glass with a vinta drawing, P50, 38,400 ppm
5. A shot glass with yellow and white flowers, P10, 38,200 ppm
6. A shot glass with Philippine flag and the word “Mabuhay,” P40, 35,800 ppm
7. A shot glass with the word Davao and fishes, P85, 31,300 ppm
8. A shot glass with a jeepney drawing, P50, 31,200 ppm
9. A shot glass with the word “Tsingtao,” P6, 30,800 ppm
10. A shot glass with the words “Double Happines,” P6, 25,400 ppm
11. A shot glass with green, orange and yellow flowers, P10, 25,000 ppm
12. A shot glass with the word Davao and pomeloes, P39, 16,900 ppm
13. A shot glass with the word Cebu and mangoes, P94.75, 3,068 ppm
The EcoWaste Coalition has insisted that all beverage and food containers should be safe from lead and other toxins to protect the public health and the environment.