Sunday, May 15, 2011

DepEd told: Screen donated kindergarten toys

Before handing over donated toys to kindergarten pupils, the Department of Education must first screen the donated items for potential harmful or toxic effects.

The appeal came Saturday from environmental group EcoWaste Coalition, which said some toys contain toxic substances, or can choke or lacerate young children.

“While commending [Education] Secretary [Armin] Luistro for his good intentions, we find it necessary for DepEd to see to it that toys loaded with injurious substances are kept out of the gift-giving to welcome our pre-school learners," Anthony Dizon, a coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition, said in a post on EcoWaste's blog.

Dizon also suggested that the DepEd should come out with a health-based criteria on what toys can be donated and received.

“We should not let our guards down knowing that children are most prone to chemical and other hazards," he said.

The group said children are more at risk to toxic exposure than adults because of their frequent hand-to-mouth and object-to-mouth activities and their still immature immune and other vital systems.

It noted the Europe-based Safe Toys Coalition has been pushing for the removal of hazardous chemicals in toys and for their adequate labeling to guide consumers in making informed choices.

Only last December, EcoWaste disclosed six of seven plastic toys it bought from Divisoria and sent to Thailand for analysis contain phthalates, a toxic plastic additive, despite a government health warning.

Also in 2010, the group sent painted wooden toys to the US for testing and found some of the samples with high levels of lead, a neurotoxin.

Other chemicals of concern often found in toys include aniline, bisphenol A, brominated flame retardants, cadmium, chlorinated paraffins, chromium, formaldehyde, lead, nonylphenol, organotin, perfluorinated chemicals and triclosan, the group said.


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