MANILA, Philippines — Christmas is approaching and so is gift-giving, especially to children, and a toxic group is warning against plastic toys that contain poisonous chemicals called chlorinated paraffin too soon. .
“We are unknowingly exposing our children to plastic toys with toxic chemicals,” said Ban Toxics, a watchdog group that monitors the production and sale of products containing highly lethal chemicals or parts.
Chlorinated paraffin, Ban Toxics said, has been banned worldwide since 2017 due to its deadly health effects, especially on children.
According to the International Pollutant Elimination Network (IPEN), chlorinated paraffins, typically classified based on carbon chain length, are “highly toxic chemicals” used in plastic products.
He said that SCCPs have a carbon chain length of 10 to 13, while medium-chain chlorinated paraffins (MCCPs) and long-range chlorinated paraffins (LCCPs) have a carbon chain length of 14 to 17 and 18 to 20.
In 2017, SCCPs were banned by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, a legally binding agreement adopted by 91 states, including the Philippines.
There was no exemption, not even for toys.
However, a new study carried out by IPEN on samples collected in 10 countries, including the Philippines, and analyzed in a laboratory in Prague, revealed that “dangerous chemicals” are still present in plastic toys like these:
- inflatable horses
- Squeaky chickens
- rubber ducks
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According to IPEN, all 31 plastic toys purchased in 10 countries – Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Malaysia, Mali, Philippines, Uganda and the USA – had SCCP and MCCP.
This was stated in IPEN’s latest report, “Are your children’s toys hazardous waste? High levels of chlorinated paraffins in plastic toys from ten countries”, written by Therese Karlsson and Pamela Miller.
IPEN highlighted that some of the samples contained levels of SCCP so high that they could already be classified as “hazardous waste” or as those that pose substantial or potential threats to public health or the environment.
Toys from the Philippines, such as rubber ducks, dolls, and bears, had SCCP concentrations of 2 milligrams (mg)/kilogram (kg), 34 mg/kg, and 675 mg/kg, respectively.
The result also indicated that Philippine rubber ducks had an MCCP concentration of 4 mg/kg, while dolls and bears had 37 mg/kg and 46 mg/kg, IPEN highlighted.
As highlighted by BAN Toxics, when these dangerous chemicals persist in various consumer products, such as toys, they endanger people, especially children, who are exposed to them.
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IPEN explained that children are exposed to chemicals present in toys through inhalation of toxic dust or contaminated air, skin exposure and ingestion, which can be through the mouth or through chewing.
It stated that since chlorinated paraffins are highly toxic chemicals, they pose serious health risks such as liver damage, disruption of the endocrine system, cancer, damage to the developing brain and threat to reproductive health.
Unfortunately, none of the toys collected and tested by IPEN were labeled for the presence of toxic chemicals. “The results show the importance of labeling and traceability throughout the plastic’s life cycle,” stated IPEN.
For BAN Toxics, the lack of sufficient and appropriate labeling exacerbates the problem, highlighting the importance of transparency and traceability in plastic product materials to enable informed decision-making throughout the product value chain.
“Regulation, limitation, phase-out or banning of these toxic substances are necessary to safeguard human health and the environment,” he said, calling on the government to address the issue of chlorinated paraffins.
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