Saturday, July 5, 2014

Philippines - LASON SA TAG-ULAN | EcoWaste warns of 'toxic raincoats'

MANILA, Philippines -- With the rainy season has officially here, an environmental watchdog is warning parents to be careful about choosing raincoats for their children.

The EcoWaste Coalition singled out raincoats made of polyvinyl chloride, more known as PVC, plastic, which it said “contains numerous toxic additives that are released to the environment over the lifespan of the product.”

Among these is lead, which “can harm the brain and the central nervous system, as well as disrupt the normal function of the endocrine system.”

The group issued the warning “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.”

EcoWaste regularly scours markets and stores, usually for cheap and popular children's products, and has these tested for toxic content.

The analysis performed by global testing company SGS showed the five samples containing 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.”

The samples that tested toxic were:

  1. A yellow “Tweety Bird” raincoat found to have 574 ppm of lead
  2. A yellow student raincoat with 243 ppm of lead
  3. A yellow “Winnie the Pooh” raincoat with 217 ppm of lead
  4. Another brand of yellow “Tweety Bird” raincoat with 190 ppm of lead
  5. A blue “Mickey Mouse” raincoat with 164 ppm of lead

“While it’s true these raincoats can prevent kids from getting wet, the lead and other hazardous substances on the PVC plastic material or design may make them sick in the long term and pollute the environment as well,” warned Thony Dizon, coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect, in a statement released by the group.

Dizon noted that children 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.”

Lead, in particular, can damage or retard brain development and cause health problems, learning disabilities, lower IQ scores, shorter attention span, poor impulse control and aggressive behavior.

EcoWaste urged parnets to “look for non-PVC rain gears such as those made from alternative rain-repulsing materials with least toxic components.”

It also advised them to check the products used by their children for wear and tear and remind them to  “their hands thoroughly after playing and before eating.”

On the other hand, it urged manufacturers of 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.

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