Dangerous Water Color Sets Openly Sold in Cebu City

Some Cebu City retailers are still
selling a locally-manufactured water color sets recently banned by the
government for containing high levels of lead, a chemical
poison that can harm the brain.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog group based in Quezon City, discovered
the illegal trade after conducting test buys in 14 retail outlets in Cebu City
last Sunday, June 15, 2014 and managing to
procure the banned “Artex Fine Water Colors.”

“It’s unlawful to sell these lead-contaminated water colors.  We therefore
ask Cebu retailers to remove them from store shelves and return to the
manufacturer for environmentally-sound disposal,” said
Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“To ensure compliance, we request FDA’s field officers in the province to go
store-hopping, confiscate the banned items and charge disobedient businessmen,”
she added.

Lucero and the EcoWaste team were in town of late for the “Asian Lead Paint
Elimination Project Workshop” held in Lapu-Lapu City (June 9-13) and the “Forum
on Lead Paint Hazards and the Benefits of Lead Safe Procurement Policy” in Cebu
City (June 16).

On May 29, 2014, the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) issued  Advisory No. 2014-044 recalling “Artex Fine
Water Colors” after laboratory tests detected lead in excess of the maximum
limit of 90 parts per million (ppm).

The FDA’s action was prompted by a complaint filed last April by the EcoWaste
Coalition with the Department of Trade and Industry – Bureau of Trade
Regulation and Consumer Protection.

In Cebu City, the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol managed to buy the
banned water color sets for P40 to P64.95 at Best Buy Mart (Osmena Blvd. cor.
P. Gullas St.),  La Nueva Supermart (Briones St.), La Nueva Supermart
(Magallanes St) and Prince Hypermart (P. Burgos St.).

On the other hand, no “Artex Fine Water Colors” were found at Fooda Saversmart,
Happy Mart, Kaking, King Long, Lucky 7 Supermart, Metro Department Store, National
Book Store, Novo Asia Consumer, Unitop and Visayan Educational Supply.

The group had earlier reported  buying the banned school art material in 3
retail shops in Lapu-Lapu City last June 14 for P40 to P59.75, specifically at
La Nueva Supermart (De la Cerna St.), Marnikko School
and Office Supplies (Martir St.) and Society Store (Stall No. 10) of the Public

Lead is strictly prohibited in the production of school supplies and toys under
the “Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds” issued by the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources in December 2013.

According to “Childhood Lead Poisoning,” a publication of the World Health
Organization (WHO),  “lead exposure has profound and permanent adverse
health effects on children,” stressing that “there is no safe level of exposure
to lead.”

Delayed mental and physical development, learning difficulties, decreased
intelligence, shortened attention span, hearing loss, and behavioural problems
are among the major effects of lead exposure.

“The  principal  organs  affected  are  the
 central  and  peripheral nervous  system and  the
 cardiovascular,  gastrointestinal,  renal, endocrine,
 immune  and haematological systems,” the WHO said.

Last June 14, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago filed Proposed Senate Resolution
700 asking “the proper Senate committee to conduct an inquiry in aid of
legislation,” explaining that “Congress  and  other concerned
 agencies  should  ensure  that  school  supplies
tainted with  lead  and  other  hazardous  chemicals
 do  not  reach  the local  market  through
 more vigilant monitoring of commercial
activities and  stringent testing of these products.”