Back-to-School Project Promotes Lead-Safe, Non-Toxic Zippers for School Uniforms

Used school
uniforms got a new lease of life through a practical “back-to-school”
initiative involving a vibrant parish community, a toxics watchdog group and
the world’s largest zipper manufacturer.

Through a
collaborative project that brought together the Our Lady of Remedies Parish,
EcoWaste Coalition and YKK Philippines, over 500 zippers of school shorts,
pants and skirts that have seen better days were replaced with non-toxic and
eco-friendly YKK Zippers at no cost to the delight of more than 100 mothers.

Dubbed as the
“Palit Zipper na Ligtas sa Tingga,” the project sought to 1) draw public
attention on the lead hazard in some zipper products, 2) encourage consumers to
patronize quality lead safe zippers, and 3) help poor families cut their
back-to-school expenses by offering to replace worn out zippers of school
uniforms.  The event was held Sunday at the Remedios Training Center.

expenses can be a real challenge for many families living on a shoestring
budget. Most will rely on cheap, low quality items that may contain harmful
substances. Mothers who took advantage of this ‘palit zipper’ initiative can
now breathe a collective sigh of relief for two reasons: first, they are learning
another way to protect their children, and second, they know for certain that
the zippers on their children’s clothes are safe from lead, a hazardous
chemical,” said Fr. Leo Distor, Parish Priest, Our Lady of Remedies Parish,
Malate, Manila. 

“We are pleased
to assure our customers that our zippers are compliant to standards and are
globally accepted.  By ensuring our proven product quality and safety
through rigorous tests conducted by ourselves and via third party inspection,
we give our customers a peace of mind and a real value for their money,” said
Mr. Tadashi Koshio, Executive Vice-President for Sales and Marketing, YKK
Philippines Inc.

containing high levels of lead on the surface coating or the substrate should
be kept out of reach of children who may be unwittingly exposed to such
neurotoxin when they touch the puller and slider of lead-containing zippers of
clothes, bags and accessories,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste
Coalition’s Project Protect.

“There is no known amount of lead exposure that is considered safe, especially
for a child’s developing brain.  It is therefore imperative to get rid of
all preventable sources of lead in a child’s environment, including lead paint
and dust, and lead in school supplies, toys and other children’s
products,”Dizon added.                           

According to
the World Health Organization (WHO):

“Lead is a
cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly
harmful to young children.”

“Childhood lead
exposure is estimated to contribute to about 600 000 new cases of children
developing intellectual disabilities every year.”

“Lead exposure
is estimated to account for 143 000 deaths per year with the highest burden in
developing regions.”

Last December
2013, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued a Chemical
Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, which prohibits, among other things,
the use of lead in the production of school supplies and toys and sets a
threshold limit of 90 parts per million for lead in paint.

While the said
policy does not explicitly mention about zippers and other fastening devices,
it is a fact that these items are accessible parts of things that children
normally use such as bags and garments and should be lead safe, the groups