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Some ‘lucky charms’ toxic, says group

By: - Reporter / @jgamilINQ
/ 06:22 AM January 23, 2012

Those lucky charms may not be so lucky, after all.

Environmental watchdog EcoWaste Coalition on Sunday advised people to be careful in handling feng shui charms, claiming that 14 out of 30 samples it bought from Binondo District in Manila were found to contain chemicals like arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury that were “above levels of concern.”

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“We regret to announce that some lucky charms and decors are too contaminated with one or more heavy metals, some of which are carcinogenic, that can endanger human health,” Aileen Lucero of the group’s Project Protect said in a statement.

She cited the presence of lead in six samples, ranging from 108 parts per million (ppm) to 14,800 ppm, way above what the group said was the prescribed 90 ppm limit.

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Among these samples were amulets, bracelets, piggy banks, door ornaments, figurines, joss paper and sticks, “kiat kiat” money tree and rice urns.

The highest amount of lead—2,371 ppm (parts per million) of arsenic and 252 ppm of cadmium—came from a dragon figurine, which is particularly popular in this Year of the Water Dragon, according to the group.

It said an iconic octagon-shaped door ornament “bagua” was found to contain 13,200 ppm of lead, 8,962 ppm of chromium, 2,174 ppm of arsenic, 157 ppm of cadmium and 41 ppm of mercury.

A “wu lo” charm, ironically for good health, had 4,988 ppm of lead, 4,074 ppm of chromium, 901 ppm of arsenic, 91 ppm of cadmium and 22 ppm of mercury.

A certain piggy bank had 1,121 ppm of lead, 503 ppm of chromium, 177 ppm of arsenic and 83 ppm of cadmium while a “lucky cat” figurine had 114 ppm of cadmium, the group said.

“Manufacturers should substitute toxic with nontoxic ingredients, and importers, distributors, sellers and consumers should all demand nothing less than safe products,” Lucero urged.

EcoWaste asked for the government to ensure the safety of products being sold in the market.

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It said the samples were bought from street vendors and shops in Manila’s Chinatown on Jan. 18-20 and tested with a handheld chemical analyzer.

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TAGS: Chinese new year, EcoWaste Coalition, Feng Shui Charms, Health Hazards
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