Christmas gift-giving should protect children from toxic toys – EcoWaste

Christmas gift-giving EcoWaste
EcoWaste Coalition study finds most toys sold in the market are poorly labeled.

EcoWaste Coalition is urging the government to protect children from toxic toys after its study revealed most products in the market are poorly labeled.

With the Christmas gift-giving tradition at hand, the non-profit advocacy group for children’s health decried the unsatisfactory compliance to the toys’ labeling requirement that is denying consumers with essential product safety information.

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“We are saddened by the poor compliance to Republic Act 10620, which requires specific labeling information for toys and games to ensure children’s protection from all forms of hazards lurking in the things they play with,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Young children can easily fall victim to the hidden hazards of improperly labeled and poor quality toys,” he said, noting “some of these hazards are not easy to identify or notice, particularly the presence of banned or restricted chemical ingredients in some toys.”

“To ensure that children will benefit from toys and games that are supposed to assist in their cognitive and physical development, we urge the authorities to schedule next year a thorough review of compliance to RA 10620 and also to upgrade prevailing toy safety standards and regulations,” he added.

Dizon made the remarks following the conclusion of the group’s monthly toy monitoring during the “ber” months to determine progress in the enforcement of the said law enacted in 2013.

From September to December, the group with the help of its members and volunteers procured a total of 260 toys from legitimate retail establishments in 13 cities, namely, Caloocan, Makati, Malabon, Manila, Navotas, Pasay, Pasig, Taguig, and Valenzuela Cities, as well as Bacoor, Dasmariñas, Cebu and Davao Cities.

Under the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act, toys and games are required to provide the following labeling information: LTO number issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); age grading; cautionary statements/warnings; instructional literature; manufacturer’s marking; and item, model or stock-keeping unit (SKU) number.

Out of 260 toy samples, not even a single product was found fully compliant to the Labeling and Packaging Requirements under Rule 1, Title II of RA 10620’s IRR.

Based on the labeling analysis conducted by the group:

  • 60 samples were totally unlabeled;
  • 161 samples lacked the license to operate (LTO) number;
  • 97 samples provided no age labeling information;
  • 83 samples showed no cautionary statements such as “Warning: Not suitable for children under 3 years. Contains small parts” or its equivalent graphical symbol;
  • 220 samples provided zero or incomplete name and address of the toy manufacturer or distributor;
  • 229 samples had no item, model, stock-keeping unit (SKU) number;
  • 14 samples had their labeling information written in foreign characters.

In addition to poor labeling, the EcoWaste Coalition expressed concern over the chemical hazards posed by some toys.

Using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, the group detected high concentrations of lead, a chemical that can seriously damage the brain, in some painted toys and plastic vinyl toys. The orange coated bar of a toy xylophone, for example, had 8,463 parts per million (ppm) of lead, while a soft plastic ball had 1,586 ppm of lead.

The group found high levels of bromine in some plastic toys with possibly recycled e-waste plastic parts containing toxic brominated flame retardant chemicals, which are known to cause hormonal irregularities. A plastic guitar with a black recycled plastic component, for example, had 13,300 ppm of bromine.

Considering the growing concern about the many toxic additives used in the production of plastic and plastic products such as children’s toys, many of which are known endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), the EcoWaste Coalition urged the authorities to ensure a precautionary approach that will prevent such harmful substances from all stages of the plastic lifecycle.

According to a new report “ “Plastics, EDCs & Health” published by the Endocrine Society and the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), “meant to make plastics more pliable or durable, more fire-resistant or antimicrobial, more ultraviolet (UV)-resistant or simply more colorful, many of these additives have been shown to disturb hormonal systems in humans and animals by leaching into liquids, food, and the environment.”

“Many of the plastics we use every day at home and work are exposing us to a harmful cocktail of endocrine-disrupting chemicals,” said the report’s lead author, Jodi Flaws, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. “Definitive action is needed on a global level to protect human health and our environment from these threats.”

Among the known EDCs that leach from plastics and threaten health include bisphenol A and related chemicals, flame retardants, phthalates, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), dioxins, UV-stabilizers, and toxic metals such as lead and cadmium, the report said.

Check out this list of Eco-Friendly Gifts that Give Back to the Planet.

EcoWaste Coalition released these 35 Tips for Environmentally Healthy and COVID-Safe Christmas and New Year.

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The Good News Pilipinas Team is a group of Filipino journalists who advocate putting more good news stories about the Philippines and Filipinos on the media.