Toys sold near public schools found with toxic chemicals

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MANILA, Philippines — Some marbles, spin tops, action figures and other kiddie toys being sold near elementary schools in Metro Manila apparently contain toxic chemicals, too.

An environmental and health watchdog said on Sunday these toxic toys were being sold near 38 public elementary schools in the cities of Caloocan, Makati, Malabon, Manila, Pasay, Quezon and Taguig.

The EcoWaste Coalition said 125 of 325 samples, which included play makeup, toy rings and toy animals, bought in time for the resumption of classes showed high levels of arsenic, antimony, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury.

“We deplore the sale of these poison toys that in the eyes of innocent children are harmless and fun to play with,” said Thony Dizon, coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“Unknown to these young consumers, playing with such toxic toys can expose them to lead, especially when they put these things into their mouths that kids often do,” he said.

A water color set was found to contain 37,900 parts per million of lead, way above the US limit of 90 ppm.

Among the children’s products that had the highest levels of lead included a silver play ring with Picachu image, a yellow wrist strap with Angry Birds design, a necklace with a broken heart pendant, plastic Teddy Bear earrings and a blue baller marked “Kain, Tulog, Dota.”

High levels of mercury were also found in a “Dream Girl” makeup set (306 ppm), moisture lip cream (179 ppm) and “Fashion Vogue” makeup set (170 ppm). The Asean limit for mercury in cosmetics is 1 ppm.

These toys are being sold for P5 to P50 each.

“The lead ingested by a child seeps into the bloodstream and gets distributed to body cells, tissues and organs with the nervous system as the main target for toxicity,” Dizon explained.

The group said exposure to lead and mercury even in small amounts might cause serious health problems. “Neurological and behavioral disorders may be observed after inhalation, ingestion or dermal exposure of different mercury compounds,” the group quoted the World Health Organization.

The EcoWaste appealed to vendors to sell only properly labeled and registered nontoxic toys to avoid endangering children’s health. The group also called on national and local government agencies to initiate removal of these poison toys in the market.

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