Toy Buyers Beware: 90 of 200 Toy Samples from 6 Cities Found Laden with Toxic Chemicals

Quezon City. An advocate for children’s health and safety has stepped up its drive against toys laced with dangerous chemicals as Christmas draws even closer.

The EcoWaste Coalition intensified its timely advocacy with the release of test results involving 200 toys bought from various retailers in six cities, namely Cabanatuan, Gapan, Pasay and Manila in Luzon, Cebu in the Visayas and Davao in Mindanao, during the month of November

The samples, representing a wide range of affordable toys costing from P 10 to P 150, were subjected to heavy metal analysis using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.

“Our six-city sampling shows that toys containing harmful substances are everywhere, posing serious health risks for children,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“Lead and other chemicals of concern that could jeopardize children’s healthy development should be prohibited in the manufacture of toys and other products targeting child consumers,” he emphasized.

“Children are at the greatest risk of being harmed by these chemicals as their vital organs and systems are still developing. Kids are likely to ingest these health-damaging pollutants because they tend to bite and chew objects such as toys, as well as place their hands into their mouths,” he added.

Out of 200 samples, only 110 (55%) passed the screening for heavy metals such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury.

The other 90 samples (45%) failed and were found to contain one or more metals above levels of concern that were not known to unsuspecting consumers.

Most “toxic toys” were found in Cebu City (28 of 50 samples), followed by Davao City (23 of 50 samples), Cabanatuan and Gapan City (21 of 50 samples), and Pasay and Manila (18 of 50 samples).

“We are particularly bothered by the high levels of lead, a chemical poison that attacks the developing brain of young children,  in most of the tainted samples,” Dizon said.

Pediatric toxicologist Dr. Bessie Antonio of the Philippine Society of Clinical and Occupational Toxicology stressed that “there is no level of childhood exposure to lead that can be deemed safe.”

“Children’s exposure to lead could result to life-long health problems and should be avoided as much as possible,” she said.

If lead gets into a child’s body, it could bring about mental retardation, low IQ, learning and speech difficulties, hearing loss, poor school performance, attention deficit disorder, violence and other behavioural problems, and even anemia and kidney damage.

The top 6 toys with the highest concentrations of lead beyond the 90 parts per million (ppm) limit for lead in paint under the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) were:

1. Mobile Phone Toy, bought in Davao City, 7,035 ppm lead.
2. Pokemon Action Figure, bought in Cabanatuan City, 6,656 ppm lead.
3. Kidshop Animal Land, bought in Pasay City, 3,465 ppm lead.
4. Make Up Set Toy, bought in Davao City, 3,047 ppm lead.
5. Dino World, bought in Davao City, 1,608 ppm lead.
6. Eagle Hanging Toy, bought in Manila City, 1,557 ppm lead.

The other samples with the highest levels of antimony, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury were:

1. Cartoon Car, bought in Cabanatuan City, 2,163 ppm antimony.
2. Super Shots Car, bought in Manila City, 294 ppm arsenic.
3. Marble with Red Design, bought in Davao City, 4,236 ppm cadmium.
4. Make Up Set, bought in Davao City, 14 ppm mercury.

These findings, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out, reinforce the importance of heightened consumer as well as regulatory vigilance against unlabeled, unlicensed and unsafe toys.

“As Christmas gets nearer, we ask toy makers, toy sellers and toy givers to exercise utmost responsibility and offer only labeled and licensed items that have passed rigorous physical and chemical safety tests,” Dizon said.

“We also ask parents and other toy consumers to seek and demand for nothing less than the healthiest and safest toys from traders this Christmas season,” he added.