Divisoria vendors urged not to sell watercolors with high lead content
A toxics watch group urged vendors in Divisoria, Manila, not to sell a brand of watercolors containing high levels of lead as part of the group’s “Waste-Free, Toxic-Free Back-To-School” campaign.
EcoWaste Coalition made the appeal after retail stores began selling school supplies in Divisoria, a popular shopping destination for bargain hunters, in preparation for the opening of classes next month.
In a statement, the group asked vendors in the area to stop selling “Artex Fine Water Colors” after it found elevated amounts of lead in the coloring material.
The brand which is usually sold by sidewalk vendors on Juan Luna Street and Recto Avenue for P65 to P68 per set tested positive for up to 37,000 parts per million (ppm) of the toxic chemical.
According to EcoWaste, this was in “downright violation” of the government regulation protecting the public from exposure to lead, a poisonous chemical which causes permanent cognitive and behavioral problems.
The group noted that in a separate test conducted by SGS, a global testing company, three samples of the Artex Fine Water Colors were shown to have a lead content ranging from 6,000 ppm to 37,000 ppm.
EcoWaste Project Protect coordinator Thony Dizon said that they had reported their findings to the Department of Health, Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) which also contacted other concerned agencies for appropriate action.
“We have asked the local manufacturer of Artex Fine Water Colors to voluntarily recall their lead-tainted product but our appeal fell on deaf ears,” he added.
Dizon said they earlier tried to get in touch with the firm through letters, phone calls and personal visits.
“Based on the report submitted by the Food and Drug Administration of the health department, Venus Commercial Company Inc., the maker of Artex Fine Water Colors, has no valid license to operate nor has a pending [application for a license],” he added.
EcoWaste also noted that the watercolor product was “not registered/notified nor was there a pending application for registration/notification.”
“Experts have warned that even low levels of lead in blood can result in a child’s decreased intelligence and school performance, as well as aggressive behavior,” Dizon said.