Some Valentine’s Day gifts toxic, warns eco watchdog


MANILA, Philippines—Be careful when buying a Valentine’s Day gift for the apple of your eye.

The EcoWaste Coalition on Monday issued the warning, saying that it did not want couples to suffer what befell Romeo and Juliet: Totally in love and poisoned.

The environmental group said it had found traces of heavy metals in 13 of 20 (65 percent) products it bought from formal and informal retailers in Binondo, Divisoria, Quiapo and Sta. Cruz in Manila.

EcoWaste said it bought stuffed hearts, puffy toy gifts, mugs, panty rose and other Valentine’s Day knick knacks. Most of the products contained toxic metals like cadmium and lead, two of the “Ten Chemicals of Major Public Health Concern” as classified by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Our findings indicate that some Valentine’s Day gifts and accessories are laced with hazardous chemicals that can harm people we care about,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Levels detected ranged from 1,248 parts per million (ppm) to 2,059 ppm for cadmium (exceeding the limit under the proposed US Children’s Toxic Metals Act) and 159 ppm to 6,713 ppm for lead (exceeding the lead in paint limit under the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act).

Lucero said the chemicals found in the gifts were carcinogenic. She put the safe level for lead at 90 ppm and for cadmium at 75 ppm.

EcoWaste particularly took note of a mug bearing the slogan, “World’s Best Lover.”

It may be the biggest compliment your lover can give you, but it also has the highest amount of cadmium at 2,059 ppm among the items it had bought to test.

The WHO said that “cadmium exerts toxic effects on the kidney, the skeletal and respiratory systems, and is classified as a human carcinogen.”

Lead, on the other hand, “is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems, including the neurologic, hematologic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and renal systems,” said the global health organization.

The mug also tested positive for lead at 6,628 ppm and contained traces of arsenic and antimony.

Another mug with the image of a cheerful boy holding up a bouquet of hearts tested with the highest amount of lead at 6,713 ppm among the items and had 1,951 ppm of cadmium. The mug also contained arsenic, chromium and antimony.

High levels of toxic chemicals were also found in a “Garfield” stuffed toy.

EcoWaste found that it contained 1,785 ppm of lead, 1,346 ppm of chromium, 296 ppm of arsenic and 171 ppm of antimony.

Lucero said “none of the samples had complete product information, keeping consumers in the dark about who made the products, their chemical contents and their effects on health.”

EcoWaste purchased the items on Feb. 10-12 and screened them for cadmium, lead and other heavy metals on Feb. 13 using an X-ray fluorescence analyzer.

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