Chinese new year warning: Prayer beads for ‘safety’ hazardous to health - EcoWaste | Inquirer News

Chinese new year warning: Prayer beads for ‘safety’ hazardous to health – EcoWaste

/ 06:55 PM January 26, 2014

MANILA, Philippines — Not even the six-syllable Kuan Yin mantra can ward off the danger of lead exposure from a set of prayer beads, according to an environment and consumer safety group.

The prayer beads set have been identified by the EcoWaste Coalition as among its “Dirtiest Dozen” of Chinese New Year charms with the highest level of lead.

Someone who recites the mantra “om mane padme hum” to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy and Compassion Kuan Yin while holding the prayer beads is supposed to be protected from all kinds of danger.


But the EcoWaste Coalition found 207,400 parts per million (ppm) of lead on a set of prayer beads adorned with a lead alloy pendant, topping its list of 42 toxic Chinese amulet and charms for the year of the Wooden Horse.


The group detected through portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer excessive levels of toxic metals, including lead, arsenic, cadmium, antimony and chromium, in 42 of 50 samples bought from retail shops in the Binondo, Divisoria, and Quiapo districts in Manila at prices ranging from P20 to P350.

Of the tested samples, 34 had high levels of lead, 16 had arsenic while four had cadmium and none of them had labels informing buyers on the manufacturers, country of origin, or their chemical ingredients along with health and safety warnings.

EcoWaste’s Project Protect coordinator Thony Dizon said, “We find the presence of toxic metals in some amulets and charms incompatible with the much trumpeted luck and success that they are supposed to bring.”

He added, “There is a clear mismatch between the good flow of energy and prosperity offered by some of these talismans and activators and the bad chemicals that make them up.”

EcoWaste said that other items, with the most levels of lead, included in the dirtiest dozen list are: a stabilizing amulet for good planning and decision-making with 98,330 ppm of lead; a big “Yin Yang Bagua” hanging charm with tassel tainted with 75,900 ppm of lead; a small “Yin Yang Bagua,” with 45,300 ppm of lead; a gain luck coin or money plate with 35,500 ppm of lead; and a figurine of a golden dragon on a pile of gold coins surrounded by the 12 Chinese zodiac animals with 9,885 ppm of lead.

Yin Yang Bagua represents feng shui balance and protection and contains the eight trigrams (three-line symbols) used in Taoist cosmology’s basic principles of reality.


Also among the dirtiest dozen are: a ceramic waving prosperity cat with 7,514 ppm of lead; a lucky Rabbit bracelet with multicolor stones, 7,124 ppm of lead; a figurine of a smiling Buddha holding a lucky gold ingot and gourd with 7,068 ppm of lead; a 12-animal zodiac charm with 6,462 ppm of lead; a horse statuette on a pineapple and gold ingot with 5,380 ppm of lead; and a horse figurine decorated with leafy vegetables, which had 4,522 ppm of lead.

Lead, chromium, cadmium, and arsenic are in the World Health Organization’s list of 10 chemicals of major public health concern and in the country’s priority chemicals list.

According to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), while lead is toxic even at very low exposure levels and can have “neurological, cardiovascular, renal, gastrointestinal, haematological, and reproductive effects, ” cadmium is a “carcinogen by inhalation and is accumulated in the bone and may serve as a source of exposure later in life.”

Dr. Bessie Antonio, head of the East Avenue Medical Center outpatient department, said that “lead is a dangerous toxicant that kids and adults should avoid.”

She further warned, “Lead exposure among children even at low levels can disrupt brain development and cause lifelong learning and behavioral problems, while exposure among women and men can bring about miscarriage, reduced sperm count, anemia, peripheral neuropathy, hypertension and many other lead-induced health issues.”


Souvenir items tainted with toxic chemicals—Ecowaste Coalition 

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TAGS: charms, Chinese new year, Health, health risks, lead, Metro, News

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