Sunday, September 12, 2010

Watchdog calls on government to test toys for toxic chemicals

With the start of the “ber” months, a toxic watchdog has called on the
authorities to test toys for harmful chemicals to ensure that only
safe toys are offered for sale in the build-up toward Christmas

The EcoWaste Coalition, a network campaigning for children’s health
and safety from toxic chemicals, made the plea as the countdown to
Christmas begins.

“To make the holidays merry and safe, especially for kids, we ask the
government to guarantee that only truly non-toxic toys are placed on
store shelves and sold to consumers,” said Roy Alvarez, president of
EcoWaste Coalition.

“Over the next few months, stores will be stocking up heaps of
alluring toys in anticipation of the increased demand during the
season of gift-giving,” he said.

“We all owe it to the Filipino children that toys laced with chemicals
linked to mental retardation, brain damage, behavioral disorders and
the like are strictly banned and kept out of children’s hands,” he

The group recently went “shop browsing” in Divisoria that many
considered as a bargain hunters’ paradise for toys and all other
consumer products.

The recent toxic toys scare in Singapore prompted the EcoWaste
Coalition’s Alert Toxic Patrol to visit the popular 168 Mall,
Divisoria Mall, New Divisoria Center and the many toy stores in the

“We’re amazed to see many toy vendors enjoying a brisk sale ahead of
the Christmas shopping spree,” Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition

“At the same time, we’re upset to see many toys without adequate
labels that could guide consumers on whether these toys are suitable
and pose no potential health and safety risks to kids,” he added.

“But what really stunned us was seeing two of the toys that failed
chemical toxicological tests commissioned by a consumer group in
Singapore,” he said.

Last Aug. 16, the Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE) released
the results of the test it conducted involving 50 toys that found 23
of them (or 46 percent) containing higher than permitted levels of
phthalates, lead or both.

CASE bought the toys, all China-made, from local shops and sent them
to an accredited laboratory. The toys selected for the test included:

1) Brightly and/or colorfully painted toys (indication of possible
presence of excessive lead contents).

2) Soft and pliable plastic toys (indication of possible presence of
excessive phthalates).

Out of the 23 toys that failed chemical tests, 16 exceeded the limit
for phthalates, three exceeded the limit for lead, while four exceeded
the limit for both phthalates and lead.

According to CASE, the permissible limit for phthalates based on US
regulatory standards is 0.1 percent weight, while that for lead in
accessible substrate materials is 300 parts per million (ppm).

International regulatory standards, CASE said, specify that the limit
for lead in paint/similar surface coating materials is 90 ppm.

Phthalates are industrial chemicals used as plastic softener that have
been linked to damage to the human reproductive systems, as well as
liver, kidney and lung damage in animals, while lead is a neurotoxin
that attacks the brain and the nervous system and is especially
hazardous to infants and young children.

The same toys were also subject to physical, mechanical and labelling
tests conducted using the American Society of Testing and Materials
Standards F963-08 for toy safety, CASE reported.

According to CASE, five of the toys failed physical or mechanical tests.

Out of these, two toys posed a potential choking hazard to young
children because the components of the toy could easily be detached.
Two toys failed the design requirements for a toy gun, in which
special toy gun markings are required to ensure the toy is not
mistaken for a real firearm. The other toy failed physical tests as
its packaging did not meet the minimum thickness required by the


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