Thumbs up for the PH FDA – EcoWaste Coalition

FDA main office ©

THE Philippine based environment and public health watchdog EcoWaste Coalition gave the country’s Food and Drug Administration a thumbs up for its decisive move against toxic school supplies that are not only harmful to health but to the environment.

In a statement, the coalition cited the series of FDA public advisories against the purchase and use of art materials laden with dangerous chemicals like mercury, lead and cadmium; and its call to attention of the sellers about these products.

Nevertheless, these toxic items remain in the market prompting the coalition to urged the FDA to issue notice of violation against erring stores. The call was made after the group was able to purchase some of the banned products from legitimate retail establishments, notwithstanding the public health warnings issued by the FDA.

In test buys conducted on January 28 and 29, the coalition managed to procure banned Artex, MPC Classique and Xiao Yiren water color sets, Fairyland crayons, and Leeho glitter fabric paint pen from dealers of school supplies in Divisoria, Tondo; Quiapo and Sampaloc, all in the City of Manila.

Thony Dizon ©

“The public health warnings issued by the FDA on school supplies laced with hazardous substances above permissible levels are crucial tools that can inform and guide consumers in making sound and safe buying decisions,” said Thony Dizon, EcoWaste Coalition chemical safety campaigner.

At the same time, Dizon pointed out that the “FDA’s action to take lead-containing art materials off store shelves, in particular, promotes industry compliance to DENR’s Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, which prohibits lead in the production of school supplies.”

Since 2014, the FDA has banned three brands of water colors, two brands of crayons, a brand of pencil and a brand of fabric paint pen, some of which are marked with the “non-toxic” claim on the packaging.

Last week on January 24, the FDA banned “12 in 1 Pencil,” “Fairyland 16 Crayons,” and “Leeho Glitter Fabric Paint Pens” for containing unacceptable levels of heavy metals, including cadmium, lead and mercury.

The FDA, last year, also banned “MPC Classique Water Colors,” “Xiao Yiren Water Colors” and “Ultra Colours Jumbo Crayons” after laboratory analyses confirmed lead content above the maximum allowable limit of 90 parts per million (ppm).

In 2014, the FDA, after being alerted by the EcoWaste Coalition, banned “Artex Fine Water Colors” for containing lead up to 5,089 ppm.

According to Dizon, “the advisories are extremely useful as the names of the products that have been verified to contain violative levels of prohibited or restricted chemical substances are specifically named with matching photographs.”

“The advisories provide helpful information about the health effects of the chemical substances in question and the consequences of exposure,” he added.

“The advisories also direct commercial establishments not to distribute the non-compliant products, and request local government units and law enforcement agencies to ensure that such products are not sold in their areas of jurisdiction,” he said.

To ensure the advisories are strictly enforced and that the banned products are duly withdrawn from the market, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the FDA go after non-compliant wholesale and retail stores.

The group also exhorted local government and police authorities, consumer protection groups and other sectors to actively back FDA’s efforts to crack down on violators.

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