17 May 2023, Quezon City. The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition is warning consumers against a China-made fish-shaped toy intended for pet cats and dogs that contains a persistent organic pollutant (POP) and other chemicals of concern.
The group issued the warning after procuring an electronic fish toy for pets that have been withdrawn from the Swedish market due to the toxicity of its accompanying USB cord, which poses chemical and environmental risks. The group obtained the product for P159 from an online seller.
“Products and product accessories should not contain POPs and other nasty chemicals that can endanger human health and the environment,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “Consumers have a right to safe products and to truthful information, including full chemical ingredient transparency, to enable them to make informed purchasing decisions and to avoid toxic exposures.”
The Swedish notification was published last May 5, 2023 at the Safety Gate, the European Union’s rapid alert system for dangerous non-food products.
According to the notification, the cord contains “excessive concentrations” of short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs), one of the POPs targeted for global elimination under the Stockholm Convention, which the Philippine government ratified in 2004.
The Convention, which seeks to protect human health and the environment from POPs, entered into global force on May 17, 2004. The SCCPs, which are used as plasticizers and as flame retardants in plastics and other materials, were added to Annex A of the Convention in 2017.
“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,” the notification said, adding “prolonged exposure to them through the skin may cause cancer.”
The cord was also found to contain “excessive concentrations” of phthalates, which are used to soften polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, including bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and dibutyl phthalate (DBP) with measured values up to 2.0% and 3.7%, respectively. The cord also contains lead ranging from 0.4% to 0.13% by weight.
“These phthalates may harm the health of children, possibly causing damage to their reproductive systems,” the notification said.
Moreover, the solder in the product has high levels of lead and cadmium amounting to 82.2 % and 0.19 % by weight, respectively, which may pose a risk to the environment.
According to the Swedish authorities, the product was found not compliant with the European regulations against which the product was analyzed.
“The product does not comply with the requirements of the Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS 2 Directive) nor with the Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) Regulation,” the notification said.
Because of this, the importer has withdrawn the product from the market.
The EcoWaste Coalition, which has been campaigning for children’s toy safety for over a decade now, plans to push for new regulations in collaboration with animal rights groups to ensure that pet toys manufactured, imported, distributed and sold in the country are safe and toxics-free.