Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ecology group pushes for safer toys this Xmas

With just days to go before Christmas, an ecological group asked the government to take steps to ensure only safe toys are sold in bargain centers and stores.

EcoWaste Coalition noted shops and vendors in Divisoria and shopping malls enjoy a brisk sale ahead of Christmas next week.

“The government is responsible for recalling toys that have not passed quality and safety standards, including product-labeling requirements. Toys that pose choking, laceration, poking, strangulation, and chemical-poisoning threats to young children should be withdrawn from store shelves without delay," EcoWaste president Roy Alvarez said in an article posted on the group's blog site.

“We want to see the authorities ordering product recalls as a precaution against children’s potential exposure to physical, mechanical and chemical hazards in toys," he added.

Citing data from the European Union’s Rapid Alert System for Non-Food Products (RAPEX), the group said that in 2009, 476 kinds of toys had already been recalled by the 27-country bloc.

It said in 2010, an additional 478 kinds of toys were recalled.

The group added that in the United States, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled 50 kinds of toys in 2009 and 44 kinds in 2010.

“Government authorities in Europe and the US issue toy recall orders from time to time to rid the market of dangerous toys. Our own government should do the same in order to save our children from harm. If they don’t, who will?" Alvarez said.

"The government should also ensure that recalled toys from abroad will not get dumped into the country's ports and markets," he added.

Toxic puzzle tapestries, mats, or carpets

Meanwhile, EcoWaste alerted the public to a recent move by the Belgian and French governments to impose a ban on giant puzzle mats or carpets made of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) foam because of concern with formamide.

Formamide is a reproductive toxicant, or a chemical classified as toxic to the reproductive system, which can pose harm to fetuses and infants. Exposure to the chemical can also cause eye, nose, throat, and skin irritation.

“The latest toxic scare in Belgium and France involving formamide-laced foam puzzle mats or carpets, which are also quite popular in the Philippines, should be enough incentive to induce the authorities into withdrawing the product from the local market," said Antonio Dizon, coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition's Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

Last Friday, Belgian Minister for Consumer Protection Paul Magnette ordered the withdrawal of foam puzzle tapestries which were found to contain high levels of formamide.

Following the Belgian action, Frederic Lefebvre, the French Secretary of Consumer Affairs, ordered the Directorate General for Competition, Consumption and Fraud to “proceed without delay to control the toxicity of carpet puzzles for children and [their] sale [in] the French market."

In 2009, consumer groups in Belgium, Italy, Portugal, and Spain reported the presence of formamides in foam mat puzzles.


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