Don't choose hazardous plastic toys, eco group warns

An environmental group is warning the public to be cautious in choosing toys to buy this season of “gift-giving” because without knowing it, the materials of some toys could be containing toxic substances, especially if they are made from recycled plastics with hazardous chemicals.

At the same time, the group also discourages the act of recycling of toxic products containing hazardous chemicals as consumer products, especially toys for children, as it is always important to ensure the safety of the children who are hoped to be the country's future leaders.

The EcoWaste Coalition also calls on the people to always consider the safety of the children in buying toys to make them happy since not all toys are safe for the children and can be harmful to their optimum development.

The group notes that while the intention of the “gift-giver” is good when he or she buys a particular toy as a gift to a child, that intention can have “hazardous effect” on the part of the innocent recipient who will use it in playing.

“The recycling of plastics containing toxic substances such as flame retardants into toys raises health and safety concerns as this could expose kids to toxic substances known to interfere with brain and central nervous system development,” says Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Dizon notes that since recycled plastics maybe containing such brain-damaging effects, parents or those planning to give away toys this Christmas should examine first if the toys they will be giving will be safe for the children.

EcoWaste Coalition, a group which consistently campaigns for safe toys and environment, says that upon close examination in a laboratory outside the country, two of four samples of China-made imitation “Rubik’s Cube” were found positive with significant levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) called OctaBDE and/or DecaBDE.

PBDEs refer to a group of brominated flame retardants (BFRs), which are highly toxic chemicals, commonly used in consumer electronics, including computers and TV sets, as well as in recycled foam padding in carpets and furniture.

The laboratory analysis was conducted at the Czech Republic.

OctaBDE is listed in the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) for global elimination, while DecaBDE is under evaluation by the treaty’s POPs Review Committee that has concluded “global action is warranted.”

The Philippines is a state party to the Stockholm Convention.

Both OctaBDE and DecaBDE are hazardous in the environment globally and being pinpointed to be causing disruption of human hormone systems.

The potential adverse effects can take place on the development of the nervous system and children’s IQ.

To showcase the presence of toxic chemicals in toys recycled from products with hazardous elements, the group purchased 10 samples of imitation “Rubik’s Cube” from formal and informal retail outlets in Manila.

They screened these for bromine using a portable X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.

The four samples that had bromine content higher than 1,000 parts per million (ppm) were sent to the Czech Republic for laboratory test.

As per laboratory analysis by the Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague, the four samples contained OctaBDE at concentrations ranging from 2 to 108 ppm. All four were also found to contain DecaBDE, a common toxic chemical in e-waste, from 5 to 293 ppm (parts per million).

The levels of OctaBDE and DecaBDE found in two of the four samples were above the 50 ppm limit that qualify polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as hazardous waste under the Stockholm Convention. (PNA)


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