EcoWaste: Not OK to buy ‘ukay’ mugs, bowls

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Those cheap kitchen items you find in ukay-ukay stores may not be a steal after all.

The environmental watchdog EcoWaste Coalition said it had detected high levels of toxic metals in the material used to make containers like mugs, plates and bowls that were being sold in second-hand and surplus stores across Metro Manila.

The group warned consumers after taking a random sampling of 35 imported items from stores in Sta. Cruz and Ermita in Manila, Monumento in Caloocan City, and Cubao and Barangay Central in Quezon City, on March 27 and 29.

The items were found to contain toxic metals “above levels of concern” when tested using an X-Ray fluorescence spectrometer, the group said in a report last week.

The samples included mugs, plates and bowls made in China, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States, usually sold for a tempting P20 to P90 each.

Twenty-three of the items were found to contain lead, two of them with this metal content reaching over 100,000 parts per million (ppm), far exceeding the US regulatory limit for consumer products set at only 90 ppm.

Nineteen items were found to have cadmium at 3,791 ppm, well above the 75-ppm limit.

Excessive levels of lead can be considered neurotoxic while cadmium is a potential carcinogen, EcoWaste said.

“We also detected other chemicals of concern in the samples, including antimony, arsenic, chromium and, in some cases, traces of mercury,” said Aileen Lucero of EcoWaste’s Project Protect.

“Products used for eating and drinking should not contain any lead or other toxic metals as there really is no safe level of exposure for these substances, especially for a young child,” she added.

“We’re not saying you should stop going to these places for your needs, but you should insist on product safety information.  A safety-conscious consumer should demand information regardless of where the product is bought,” Lucero added.

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