Watchdog Says: Watch Out for Toxic New Year Lucky Charms

With the New Year just around the corner, an
environmental and health watchdog reminded believers in good luck charms to be
extra careful when buying such auspicious articles.

The EcoWaste Coalition issued the reminder after detecting high levels of toxic
metals in some of the lucky charms being sold by retail shops and ambulant
vendors in Villalobos St. and Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila.

Sold from P10 to P298 each, 20 out of the 20 lucky charms analyzed with a handheld
X-Ray Fluorescence spectrometer were found positive for one or more hazardous
substances such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium and lead.

Arsenic, cadmium and lead are listed in the World Health Organization’s “Ten
Chemicals of Major Public Health Concern,” which, with antimony and chromium,
are also on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ “Priority
Chemicals List.”

These chemicals are linked to serious health concerns such as reproductive abnormalities,
birth disorders, developmental delays, neurological ailments, cardiovascular
diseases, hormonal disruptions, behavioural problems and cancers.

“Lucky charms that are marketed to bring in lasting prosperity, good health and
longevity should not contain injurious substances that can make people miserable
and sick,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project

“And if they do, their manufacturers, importers distributors or vendors should
be responsible enough to inform and warn consumers,” he said.

Among the samples that showed high levels of toxic metals were lucky bracelets,
figurines and mobile hangings, including horse-inspired items celebrating 2014 as
the year of the “green wooden horse” according to the Chinese lunar calendar.

13 of the 20 lucky charms had lead in excess of 90 parts per million (ppm) with
the following six items having the highest lead levels:

1.  Yin Yang Bagua hanging charm with tassel (big), P58, with 75,900 ppm lead.
2.  Yin Yang Bagua hanging charm with tassel (small), P38, with P45,300
ppm lead.
3.  Horse figurine with Zodiac animals, P50, with 3,731 ppm lead.
4.  Horse figurine (green), P35, with 3,559 ppm lead.
5.  Wood Bagua (yellow), P60, with 3,274 ppm lead.
6.  Horse figurine (beige), P10, with 1,075 ppm lead.

Lucky charms with the highest levels of chromium, antimony, cadmium and arsenic

1.  Yin Yang Bagua hanging charm with tassel (big), P58, with 12,300 ppm chromium.
2.  Snake and coins hanging charm, P35, with 4,848 ppm antimony.
3.  Lucky charm bracelet with heart, P50, with 2,334 ppm cadmium.
4.  Lucky charm bracelet with snake, P50, 596 ppm arsenic

Instead of patronizing lucky charms with undisclosed toxic materials, it would
be better for luck seekers to go for non-toxic tools to attract positive
energy, fortune and happiness, Dizon suggested.

“Displaying lucky plants, preparing 12 round fruits, wearing red and polka-dots,
serving ‘tikoy,’ ‘biko” and other sticky delicacies, eating long noodles and
healthy meals, cleaning the house prior to New Year,
saying fervent prayers with matching hard work, and boosting positive karma by
doing good deeds might just do the trick,” he said.