Environmental watch group sounds the alarm over hazardous toys in the market

As consumers go on pre-Christmas toy shopping spree, a non-profit watch group for consumer and environmental health urged parents to pick up toys that will not expose young children to hazards lurking in some play things. In the December 1 launching of its annual "Kid-Safe Toys for Zero Harm, Zero Waste," the EcoWaste Coalition, a network of non-government and public interest groups promoting ecological waste solutions, advised parents to insist on the right of their children to safe toys regardless of where the toys are sold and bought. "Regardless where you shop for toys, please be on the lookout for dangerous toys that can injure innocent children. As adults who control the purse strings, we can harness our purchasing power to ensure that our kids are provided with toys that promise good fun, entertainment and education, and are protected against physical and chemical harm. Our children deserve nothing less than non-hazardous toys," said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition's Project Project. Dangerous toys are those that pose burn, chemical, choking, ingestion, laceration, strangulation and other hazards, including those that can injure the eyes and damage the ears, the EcoWaste Coalition said. "We appeal to the toy industry, particularly to the toy manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers, to respect our children's right to safe toys and not to put toys in the market that have not undergone and passed the required physical and chemical safety tests and are not adequately labeled," Dizon added. To demonstrate the need for consumer vigilance against hazardous toys, the EcoWaste Coalition released the results of its latest test buys of 100 assorted toys obtained from formal and informal retailers in Caloocan, Makati, Manila, Pasay and Quezon Cities. The toys, costing from P10 to P220 each, were procured on November 24 and 26. Out of these 100 toys, 93 pose choking hazard for containing small parts that young children can ingest and cause difficulty in breathing. Out of 100 toys, 20 were found to contain toxic lead from 103 to 15,300 parts per million (ppm), way above the 90 ppm regulatory limit, which is mainly due to the use of lead-containing decorative paints. Out of 100 toys, 20 have sharp edges, mostly toy knives and swords, that may cause abrasion and laceration hazard. Out of 100 toys, 18 can pose a serious risk of eye injuries, including potential permanent damage to the eyesight. Out of these 100 toys, the EcoWaste Coalition picked the following as the 10 most dangerous toys that must not get into a child's hands: 1. A kiddie folding chair coated with yellow lead paint that has 15,300 ppm total lead. 2. A "Wonderful Music Xylophone" that has a highly leaded orange bar with 11,100 ppm total lead. 3. A "Snorlax" Pokemon character toy with 1,925 ppm total lead. 4. A plastic toy knife that may cut or slice into the skin. 5. Play swords with sharp edges that pose laceration hazard. 6. Pellet guns that may cause serious eye injuries. 7. A "Wild Sling Water Balloons" with 33-inch strap that may lead to strangulation hazard. 8. A Hello Kitty guitar with 25-inch strap that may cause strangulation hazard. 9. A mini-billiard set with Pokemon design that poses choking risk. 10. Plants vs. Zombies figures that present choking risk. To assist consumers in selecting kid-safe toys, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to observe the following tips: 1. Read the product label very carefully: pay attention to the warnings, age recommendation and safety instructions; look for the product manufacturing details and the license to operate (LTO) number, which is issued to authorized toy manufacturer, importer or distributor. 2. Select toys that are appropriate for the child's age, aptitude, skill and temperament, and follow the age recommendation. 3. Look for toys that are bigger than a child's mouth to avoid choking ("the smaller the child, the bigger the toy"); avoid toys that can easily break into small parts or with small unsecured components that may be ingested or placed in the nose or the ears. 4. Buy toys from reliable traders and obtain a valid proof of purchase to facilitate replacement, refund, compensation or warranty claim if needed. 5. Watch out for toxic toys or play things laden with health-damaging chemicals such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury and phthalates. 6. Avoid toys with paint coatings - unless certified as lead-safe - to prevent kids from being poisoned when they bite, chew, lick or swallow toys with lead coatings. 7. Avoid PVC toys that contain many hidden toxic additives such as heavy metals and phthalates. 8. Avoid art toys and play cosmetics that are not confirmed as non-toxic. 9. Avoid toys that shoot small or pointed objects into the air that may cause eye or body injuries. 10. Avoid toys that have sharp edges or points that may bruise or cut a child's sensitive skin. 11. Avoid toys with cords or strings longer than 12 inches that may wrap around a child's neck and cut off a child's circulation. 12. Avoid musical toys, rattles and squeeze objects making too loud noises or shrills that can damage a child's sensitive hearing. 13. Avoid stuffed toys with small parts such as buttons or eyes that may be pulled loose and swallowed by a child; avoid those with pellet-like stuffing that may get into a child's hand and mouth when the toy breaks open; watch out for broken parts, seams and edges; and opt for washable stuffed toys. 14. Avoid battery-operated toys that are not firmly secured as batteries and their chemical ingredients may cause internal bleeding, chemical burns and choking when ingested. 15. Avoid toys that tend to induce aggression and violence such as toy guns, knives and other toy weapons. Furthermore, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to: 1. Remove and keep the toy plastic packaging out of children's reach to avoid risk of suffocation. Refrain from throwing reusable toyboxes and wrappers to the bin; find other functional uses for toy packaging to reduce waste. 2. Follow carefully the procedures for proper toy assembly and use and keep the instructions for reference. 3. Teach a child how to play safely, and closely supervise small children to help prevent any untoward incidents. 4. Check toys regularly for signs of wear or broken pieces that may cause injury, and keep toys clean. 5. Teach a child to put toys away after play to avoid accidents

Source: Philippine Information Agency