As the country commemorates National Poison Prevention Week, environmental NGO BAN Toxics highlights the need to intensify efforts to protect children from exposure to highly hazardous chemicals found in everyday items designed for them, such as toys, school supplies, childcare and personal care products, and clothing.

“Our regular market monitoring and product testing reveal that children’s items containing toxic chemicals remain pervasive and unaddressed. Lead, mercury, cadmium, short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs), and endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) such as phthalates, triclosan, and parabens, are among the harmful substances found in consumer products that pose a significant threat to the health of our children. These toxic chemicals are prohibited for use in children’s products, and yet are still found widely available in the market,” said Thony Dizon, BAN Toxics campaign officer.

From 2023 to the first half of this year, BAN Toxics has monitored about 1000 toys and 600 school supplies (bags, lunch bags, water containers, rain gear, pens and pencils, crayons, erasers) available in the market, some of which contain toxic chemicals.

Dizon said that most of the items they tested for toxic chemicals can be purchased cheaply from bargain shops and wholesale stores. “These products typically lack proper information labels, or are mislabeled, and are not regulated.”

Under RA 10620, otherwise known as the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013, toys and games are required to comply with toy labeling information such as the license to operate (LTO) number, age grading, cautionary statements/warnings, instructional literature, manufacturer’s marking, and item model stock-keeping unit (SKU) number.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, BAN Toxics disclosed the results of an Asian survey on the presence of EDCs in children’s care products. The survey, conducted by South Korea-based Wonjin Institute for Occupational & Environmental Health (WIOEH) in 2023, revealed that in three products- a brand of kiddie toothpaste, an infant tooth gel brand, both manufactured in the Philippines, and a baby body wash brand made in China, contained propylparabens (PPs) or butylparabens (BPs).

EDCs have been linked to various negative health effects in children, including impacts on intrauterine growth, changes in neurobehavior, developmental issues, and increased rates of diabetes and metabolic abnormalities.

“BAN Toxics has consistently advocated for the protection of children from hazardous chemicals and has continuously called on regulatory agencies and the general public to take action. Despite the country having established laws and regulations to safeguard Filipino children, there is an urgent need to enhance government efforts in addressing this issue, particularly concerning the unregulated production and import of hazardous children’s items,” Dizon said.

Dizon also called on the current administration to prioritize the enactment of a “Safe and Non-Hazardous Children’s Products Law” that would further enhance regulation on the importation, manufacture, distribution and sale of children’s toys, school supplies, and childcare products containing hazardous chemicals.

In 2017, House Bill 6702, the “Safe and Non-Hazardous Children’s Products Act,” was unanimously passed by the 17th Congress. However, the bill was never enacted by the Duterte administration.

“We urge our lawmakers and the Marcos Jr. administration to pursue this legislative agenda once again, as it is clear that not enough is currently being done to protect our children from hazardous chemicals,” Dizon concluded.

On June 27, BAN Toxics will join the East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC) Toxicology Referral and Training Center for a community outreach activity in Brgy. Sto. Niño, Quezon City. The event aims to emphasize poison prevention at home and in schools, as part of the National Poison Prevention Week activities organized by EAMC. Proclamation No. 1777 issued in 2009 declares the 4th week of June every year as National Poison Prevention Week.