EcoWaste Coalition Bares Sale of Harmful Toys Outside MM Public Schools

A toxics watchdog has revealed that toys containing health-damaging chemicals are being sold to public school children right at their doorstep.

The EcoWaste Coalition made the revelation after subjecting 171 assorted children’s products to chemicals analysis last July 19 using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer.

The samples, with prices ranging from P2 to P50, were purchased on July 17-19 from vendors and stores in the immediate vicinity of 18 public elementary schools in Metro Manila’s 17 local government units.

“Dangerous chemical ingredients in toys may eventually end up being chewed and ingested by kids who are completely unmindful of the hazards posed by these substances,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“We request the Department of Education, together with other stakeholders, to take essential measures that will protect children from being exposed to harmful chemicals in toys,” he said.

Of the 171 samples, 54 items (32%) were found to contain heavy metals above levels of concern, including lead, a brain poison chemical that causes low IQ, poor school performance and behavioral problems.

On the other hand, 117 items (68%) had no detectable heavy metals or contained low levels of these chemicals, indicating the commercial and technical viability of making cleaner and safer toys.

Mostly “made in China,” the toys had zero or incomplete product information. None of tainted samples indicated they contain lead or other chemicals of concern, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

50 of the 54 tainted samples had lead up to 7,962 parts per million (ppm), way above the US regulatory limit of 90 ppm.

A notorious neurotoxin with no safe level of exposure, lead can be transferred to children through exposure to contaminated products such as toys.

“Hand to mouth activities, which are typical among young children, could result to a higher intake of lead-containing paint chip and dust from contaminated toys as well as other sources such as lead-painted walls, ceilings, furniture and fixtures, and playground equipment,” warned pediatric toxicologist Dr. Bessie Antonio of the East Avenue Medical Center.

Among the five samples that registered with the highest amounts of lead were 1) a toy ring, 7,962 ppm, 2) a “Loplop” strap ruler, 7,688 ppm, 3) an “Emo” neck pouch wallet, 6,034 ppm, 4) a “Totoy Bato” necklace, 4,395 ppm, and 5) a “Crystal Slime” with ruler, 4,318 ppm.

Lead was also detected in the containers and packaging of five junk food products, all sold at P5 only, in the range of 93 ppm to 352 ppm.

Aside from lead, the EcoWaste Coalition also reported finding traces of other chemicals of concern such as antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium and mercury in some of the toy samples.

The presence of multiple chemicals of concerns in some products even in trace levels raises some valid questions about the health effects of chemical mixtures, especially to children’s health, the EcoWaste Coalition noted.

The group procured the samples from Caloocan City (Caloocan Elementary School), Las Piñas City (Pamplona Central Elementary School), Makati City (Francisco Benitez Elementary School), Malabon City (Malabon Elementary School), Mandaluyong City (Mandaluyong Elementary School), Manila City (Paaralang Santa Ana), Marikina City (Barangka Elementary School), Muntinlupa City (Muntinlupa Elementary School) and Navotas City (Navotas Elementary School).

Samples were likewise obtained from Parañaque City (Tambo Elementary School), Pasay City (Gotamco Elementary School), Pasig City (Pasig Elementary School), Pateros (Pateros Elementary School), Quezon City (Tatalon Elementary School and Quirino Elementary School), San Juan City (Pinaglabanan Elementary School), Taguig City (Taguig Elementary School) and Valenzuela City (Pio Valenzuela Elementary School).