Lawmaker wants probe on 'toxic toys'

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 24 2011 07:56 PM | Updated as of Nov 25 2011 06:30 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A party-list lawmaker on Thursday called on Congress to investigate the alleged proliferation of toys with toxic chemicals.

In a press briefing, CIBAC party-list Rep. Cinchona Cruz Gonzales reiterated her call for an investigation on alleged "toxic toys" that were first identified through EcoWaste Coalition's Project Protect study.

Gonzales said the group went to commercial establishments in Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao City last July and bought 435 children's products for testing.

After X-ray fluorescence testing, Gonzales said the group found that 124 toys or 29% of the products tested contained at least one toxic metal such as lead, chemical, chromium, mercury, cadmium antimony and arsenic.

Sixty-seven or 15% of the products had lead levels above the US regulatory limit of 90 parts per million.

Gonzales said EcoWaste Coalition conducted another study in October on toys bought at known retail outlets in Metro Manila.

She said that of the 60 tested toys, 42 or 70% had at least one toxic metal such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury. None of the products had labels that had the proper warnings.

Other samples also had metal levels above accepted limits.

Gonzales noted that the American Academy of Child and Development Psychiatry identified a range of health problems linked to children's exposure to lead including damage to the brain and nervous system, speech and language handicaps and other developmental delays, low intelligence quotient and other learning disabilities and disorders, attention deficit disorder and other behavioral problems as well as reduced bone and muscle growth.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer also learned that chromium compounds are classified as carcinogenic to humans.

Gonzales cited that the toxic metal cadmium, a human carcinogen, has toxic effects on the skeletal and respiratory system, while both cadmium and antimony are found to be the culprit for kidney damage.

Mercury, meantime, poses a threat to the nervous, digestive and immune systems and on the lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes. Arsenic, on the other hand, is damaging to the tissues in the nerves, stomach, intestines and the skin.

Gonzales said the investigation should find out how the health department implements Administrative Order 2007-00032, which regulates the issuance of license to operate for companies that manufacture, import and distribute toys for the local market.

She also wants the Department of Trade and Industry to explain if a review has been made by the Philippine national standard for toys to prohibit the production, importation, distribution and sale of toys with toxic chemicals.