Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Group warns of toxic chemicals in toys

Majority of toys sold in public markets in the country contain “elevated levels of lead,” an environmental watchdog claimed. The Eco Waste Coalition also warned parents that high amount of toxic chemicals in toys pose danger to the children’s health. "In Divisoria, the percentage of toys positive on lead content is higher than 50 to 70 percent of lead-containing toys in public markets," the group's "Project Protect" coordinator Thony Dizon said. "High amount of lead is usually used on very glossy and colorful toys," he explained. Dizon reminded parents to look out for such items and avoid buying toys with high lead content when shopping for the holidays. Aside from lead, heavy metals above "allowable limits" have also been found in almost half of a sample of 150 toys from Divisoria retailers. The group in July also detected toxic metals above levels of concern in 32 percent of 171 toy samples bought from stores outside 18 public elementary schools in Metro Manila. It also revealed 60 percent of 100 sample toys bought in Baclaran public market and nearby areas contained lead and other toxic metals "above levels of concern" last month. Manufacturer information, particularly license to operate numbers, are also absent in 148 of 150 toy samples in Divisoria, the group said. Commenting on the group's findings, Senator Manuel "Manny" Villar stressed the importance of ramping up policies on toy labels. This, as he vowed to schedule an act providing for toy safety labeling in the bicameral conference starting next week. A Toy Labeling Safety Act can soon provide protection to children by informing consumers of risks when purchasing toys in markets and malls, Villar said. "This is important because every Christmas, many people buy toys without knowing if such items are safe for their children or not," he added after inspecting toys sold in SM Mall of Asia on Tuesday. "There have been many incidents in the past of toys coming from various countries, some made in the country that have high lead content that parents are not aware of," Villar said.