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EcoWaste Coalition: Be cautious of toxic toys sold online

As the 10.10 online shopping sales are held amid the observance of the Consumer Welfare Month this October, the EcoWaste Coalition cautioned shoppers against the purchase of toys laden with hazardous substances.

The toxics watchdog group aired the product safety warning after purchasing from an online seller a brand of flying spinner toy made of plastic, which has failed the European standards against which the product was tested by the Swedish authorities.

Sold for P150 each, the China-made product, which has no manufacturer’s markings, was found non-compliant with the requirements of the European Union’s restriction on certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS 2 Directive) and with the regulation on persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

According to Alert No. A12/02414/23 published last Friday in the Safety Gate, the EU rapid alert system for dangerous non-food products, Flynova flying spinner contained “excessive concentrations” of three toxic chemicals, namely:  phthalates, lead and short chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs).

Phthalates are synthetic chemical additives used to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic soft and durable and are known to cause endocrine disruption affecting hormonal balance.  Lead, a potent neurotoxin, is a heavy metal used in a variety of applications, including in some soldering materials.  SCCPs, which are used as plasticizers and flame retardants, are listed in the Stockholm Convention, a treaty that seeks to protect human health and the environment from POPs.

According to the said alert, the product has an excessive concentration of bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and dibutyl phthalate (DBP) measured at 0.96% and 0.55% by weight, respectively. “These phthalates may harm the health of children, possibly causing damage to the reproductive system,” the alert said.

“The product also has an excessive concentration of lead (measured value up to 73% by weight),” it said, noting “lead poses a risk to the environment.”

“The product also has an excessive concentration of SCCPs (measured value up to 2.25 % by weight),” the alert stated.  “SCCPs persist in the environment, are toxic to aquatic organisms at low concentrations and bio-accumulate in wildlife and humans, posing a risk to human health and the environment,” it explained. “Prolonged exposure to them through the skin may cause cancer,” it warned.

In addition to the product’s non-compliance with European standards, the Flynova flying spinner also does not conform with some product safety and labeling standards of the Philippines, particularly DOH Administrative Order No. 2009-0005-A and Republic Act No. 10620, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.

DOH A.O. No. 2009-0005-A prohibits DBP and DEHP and four other phthalates in children’s toys in concentrations above 0.1 percent.  The amended order was released in 2011 “to ensure that the toys used by Filipino children are safe.”

R.A. No. 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act, provides for the mandatory labeling requirements for children’s toys.  Among the information that must appear on the product labels are the FDA-issued license to operate (LTO) number, age grading and manufacturer’s markings, etc.

In light of the above, the EcoWaste Coalition also called on the management of e-commerce sites to ensure that toy products offered for sale through their platforms are compliant with quality, safety and labeling requirements.  The group also sought for the immediate removal of product listings for unsafe and unlabeled toys banned by government authorities in the Philippines and elsewhere.