Who wants to wear a toxic raincoat?

By Jing Castaneda, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 07 2014 05:12 PM | Updated as of Jul 08 2014 01:12 AM

MANILA - The EcoWaste Coalition advised parents to avoid raincoats made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, which contain numerous toxic additives that are released to the environment over the lifespan of the product.

Among these toxic additives is lead, a toxic metal that can harm the brain and the central nervous system, as well as disrupt the normal function of the endocrine system.

EcoWaste Coalition project coordinator Thony Dizon said they are recommending rain gear made from nylon or polyester material.

He said though these are also synthetic, they are still safer compared to plastic or PVC.

"Ang pinakamaganda pa rin ay ang tamang labelling ng mga manufacturer ng kanilang mga produkto kung saan nakalagay ang pangalan ng manufacturer, ano ang ginamit na materyales sa paggawa, at kung dumaan ito sa safety standards ng gobyerno. Dapat may PVC or Lead-Free label din," he said.

The EcoWaste Coalition issued its latest toxic alert after receiving laboratory confirmation that five out of six samples of PVC rain coats the group bought for P130 to P200 each from discount stores in Divisoria, Manila and Baclaran, Pasay City contain excessive lead.

As per analysis conducted by SGS, a global testing company, the five samples had lead in the range of 164 parts per million (ppm) to 574 ppm, way above the permissible limit of 100 ppm for lead in accessible substrate materials under the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

Among these leaded samples were:

a. A "Tweety Bird" yellow rain coat with 574 ppm of lead (yellow material)

b. A yellow student rain coat with 243 ppm of lead

c. A "Winnie the Pooh" yellow rain coat with 217 ppm of lead

d. A "Tweety Bird" yellow rain coat with 190 ppm of lead (cartoon figure)

e. A "Mickey Mouse" blue rain coat with 164 ppm of lead

Lead and other toxins are unavoidably discharged into the environment as products age, corrode and are finally discarded and disposed of, Dizon said.

Kids are more vulnerable to environmental toxins because they breathe more air, eat more food and drink more water, and are often exposed to harmful substances resulting from their usual hand-to-mouth activities, and because their vital organs and systems are still developing, Dizon explained.

Specifically, lead, which can enter the body mainly by ingestion or inhalation, is most harmful for children because it can damage or retard brain development and cause many health problems, including learning disabilities, lower IQ scores, shorter attention span, poor impulse control and aggressive behavior.

For parents, the EcoWaste Coalition urged them to look for non-PVC rain gears such as those made from alternative rain-repulsing materials with least toxic components.

The group also advised parents to constantly check the condition of products used by their children for any signs of wear and tear, and to habitually remind kids to wash their hands thoroughly after playing and before eating.

For the manufacturers, the EcoWaste Coalition asked them to abide by the strict prohibition on the use of lead in the production of school supplies under the DENR's Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds.

In this regard, the group asked manufacturers of school supplies such as rain coats and other children's products to:

1. Phase out lead and other toxic chemicals in the production process and shift to safer ingredients.

2. Disclose chemical content information of their product as a condition for sale.

3. Respect the consumers' "right to know" about chemicals in products, including the provision of complete and truthful labeling to promote consumer choice.