Tuesday, May 24, 2011

EcoWaste Coalition finds brain poison in toys

The EcoWaste Coalition, an advocate for chemical safety awareness and action, has warned the high levels of lead, a neurotoxin, in some wooden toys sold in the domestic market.

At a press conference held Tuesday in Quezon City, environmental and health advocates led by actress Chin-Chin Gutierrez drew attention to the alarming concentrations of lead, a nerve and brain poison, in some children’s toys.

“Our investigation confirms the disturbing quantities of lead in some painted wooden toys that can harm our children’s smaller and still growing brains and bodies instead of providing them with educational and recreational benefits,” said Gutierrez, who is also a Steering Committee member of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“We urge the authorities to take tough actions to rid the toys market of lead-tainted products, including recalling toys that are unfit and unsafe for children’s use. We can and we must prevent lead poisoning of our children from toys,” she said.

Toys purchased in past years still present a health risk to children and may even become more dangerous as the paint tends to become chipped and loose with time, the EcoWaste Coalition also said.

Six of the 11 imported and locally-produced wooden toys bought by the EcoWaste Coalition and sent to the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, USA for laboratory analysis using atomic absorption spectroscopy were found to contain high levels of lead, the group reported.

A colorful nautilus jigsaw puzzle made in the Philippines tested with the highest amounts of lead in 14 of its component parts with lead levels between 6,039 to 45,671 ppm.

The other toy samples with parts loaded with lead include a wooden ornamental pin with one part containing up to 20,740 ppm lead; a tractor with wagon with lead concentrations between 2,055 and 11,764 ppm; another pin with two parts having 4,101 and 4,888 ppm lead; a “learn to count” puzzle with lead levels up to 152 ppm; and a barnyard puzzle with one part having 95 ppm lead.

As a reference value, the EcoWaste Coalition cited the maximum allowable total lead content of 90 ppm for children’s products, including toys, under the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, with a caveat from health experts that there really is no safe ceiling for lead exposure in children.

Speaking at the press conference, toxicologist Dr. Bessie Antonio of the East Avenue Medical Center identified a range of health problems linked with children’s exposure to lead, including damage to the brain and the nervous system, speech and language handicaps and other developmental delays, low intelligence quotient and other learning disabilities and disorders, attention deficit disorder and other behavioral problems, reduced bone and muscle growth, etc.


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