Toxic toys find way into Davao malls, stalls

Subscribe Now July 29, 2011 at 10:07am

Scientists from an international group found imported toys at a mall and in street stalls here to contain toxic elements, including lead and cadmium. Scientists from the International POPS Elimination Network (Ipen), a global environment group, picked toys at random at a mall and from street stalls here and tested them using handheld devices called XRF (X-ray florescence analyzers).

The test results were revealed at a public forum here.

Dr. Joseph DiGangi, Ipen senior science and policy adviser, placed the XRF on a puzzle mat, popular in nursery and preschool classrooms here, and found the mat to contain lead that is five times the US regulatory limit of 90 parts per million (ppm).

Dr. Romy Quijano, University of the Philippines toxicologist, has warned that lead, mercury and other heavy metals in toys can cause brain damage and other serious illnesses in children.

Among the 135 toys sampled, 22 were found to contain different toxic heavy metals, among them cadmium, chromium, mercury, lead, arsenic, antimony and others. Many of the toys were made in China while the others were made in Korea, Thailand and the United States.

Aside from toys, an infant milk bottle was found to contain a high level of mercury.

Members of the environment group EcoWaste Coalition and the Interface Development Interventions earlier helped the scientists buy at random 135 toy samples from the Davao stores 568, Haotian Toys, Robinson Toys R Us, SM Toy Kingdom and in stalls at the Bankerohan Public Market.

What the scientists found alarmed local officials. “These are just few toys, randomly sampled, we have to have more tests in Davao City,” said City Councilor Bernard Al-ag, head of the city council health committee, during the public forum, where DiGangi presented the results.

“This is not only a Davao City issue but a national consumer issue,” said Al-ag, a father of two.

He said most toys in the city are imported since Davao has no toy manufacturing industry. He urged the Food and Drug Administration to create a task force to closely monitor consumer products for safety.

DiGangi said even if children do not touch objects containing lead, they are still vulnerable because the poison can mix with particles in the air.

DiGangi, a molecular biologist and biochemist, tested the products using XRF gadgets, which can detect the presence of chemicals like antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury in 30 seconds.

The gadgets, however, could not detect other dangerous chemicals found in plastics like bisphenol A and phthalates that are as poisonous.


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