As Filipinos usher in the “ber” months amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a group campaigning for children’s protection from hazardous chemicals renewed its call for safe and non-toxic toys for kids.
In a press statement issued today, the EcoWaste Coalition highlighted the toy industry’s responsibility to make sure that play things sold in toy stores and online shopping platforms are not only affordable, but also harmless and of good quality.
“Toy manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers, including online dealers, have a crucial role in ensuring that toys placed on the market conform to the highest safety and quality standards as verified by government regulators,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. “Unfortunately, this is not always the case.”
“In countless test buys we have conducted, we have seen toys, especially those targeted for the C-D-E market, posing chemical and other hazards to children who can be very vulnerable to injuries and chemical exposures,” he said.
“Even toys that have been the subject of public health warnings issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are still being sold with impunity,” he noted.
A case in point is the continued sale of “Shrilling Chicken,” a yellow squeezable plastic chicken toy imported from China that has been found to contain high concentrations of phthalates, which are added to plastics to make them flexible and soft.
Phthalates are known endocrine disrupting chemicals linked to reproductive health problems like malformed penises and undescended testicles in boys and the early onset of puberty in girls, the EcoWaste Coalition said.
On January 22, 2020, the FDA through Advisory No. 2020-042 warned the public from purchasing and using this “unnotified and adulterated toy and childcare article” that is laden with excessive amounts of DEHP and DINP phthalates.
“Over seven months have passed since the advisory was issued and we still find ‘Shrilling Chicken’ being sold in toy stores and online,” lamented Dizon.
“Just search for ‘Shrilling Chicken’ in your favorite online shopping site and you will be shocked by the number of product ads as if this toy is not dangerous and banned,” he said, adding that the squeaky chicken toy is also available in retail toy shops.
In addition to toxic chemicals like phthalates in soft plastic toys, the EcoWaste Coalition cited other hazards in toys that parents and children should be concerned about.
Toys with small parts may be ingested causing choking, or, in some instances, get pushed into the nostrils or ears. Toys with pointed or sharp edges may injure the eyes or cut the skin. Toys with cords longer than 12 inches may cause strangulation. There are also toys with the potential to cause blunt force injury or trauma, the EcoWaste Coalition warned.
During the “ber”months, the EcoWaste Coalition will conduct further test buys and raise consumer awareness on toy safety using the results of the group’s labeling compliance check and chemical screening activities.
“With the cooperation of the government, industry and consumer sectors, we can make this season of gift-giving a joyful and safe occasion for all children,” the EcoWaste Coalition concluded.
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