Parents warned against lead-tainted kiddie chairs in Philippines

MANILA - A consumer safety group has cautioned parents to watch where their children sit after it detected high levels of lead in the paint used on kiddie chairs.

In a press statement on Sunday, the EcoWaste Coalition said it found up to 24,600 parts per million (ppm) of the toxic metal on the yellow paint used in imported children's furniture bought recently from a bargain store in Paco, Manila.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of lead's toxicity and its harmful effects on the body, particularly the brain.

"These kiddie play chairs are contaminated with toxic lead that would make them illegal to sell in Canada and USA, and even in the Philippines if we are to rigorously enforce our country's lead control regulation," EcoWaste's Project Protect coordinator Thony Dizon said.

Canada's Consumer Product Safety Act and the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act both limit lead content to 90 ppm in surface coating materials for toys, furniture and other children's articles to protect them from toxicity associated with lead exposure.

In Manila, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued last year the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, which strictly prohibits the use of the chemical in the manufacture of toys.

Dizon added: "Parents should shun painted children's play chairs unless certified lead-safe and government regulators should ban and seize them… to prevent lead poisoning [among kids]."

According to him, children's natural hand-to-mouth behaviour could cause them to ingest leaded paint coatings on chairs when these crack, flake or peel off.

The lead-tainted chairs were bought by EcoWaste on Sept. 4 at prices ranging from P80 to P140. The items consisted of a folding chair, a stool and a chair with backrest, all designed with plastic green and yellow seats and a floral design.

Using an X-ray fluorescence device, the group found 24,600 ppm of lead in the yellow paint used on the frame of the folding chair; 19,700 ppm for the stool; and 16,100 ppm for the chair with backrest.

The WHO stated that "at high levels of acute exposure, lead attacks the brain and central nervous system to cause coma, convulsions and even death."