Official statement from EcoWaste Coalition's coordinator of Project Protect, Thony Dizon:
"The EcoWaste Coalition has opted not to mention the specific brand of thewater color sets that showed elevated levels of lead up to 37,000 partsper million pending receipt of a formal reply from the manufacturer. The group has written twice to the company on April 7 and 15, 2014 and, as of this writing, has not received a formal response despite repeatedfollow-up phone calls.
"In the spirit of transparency and in recognition of the right of thereaders of Smart Parenting to know, we are now able to name thelead-laden water color sets, which is Artex Fine Water Colors produced byVenus Commercial Co. Inc. based in Malabon City. Out of the 22 samples ofwater colors we screened for toxic metals, all five samples of Artex hadexcessive lead levels.
"Please be informed that we have already notified concerned governmentdepartments about our findings. The Department of Trade and Industry -Bureau of Trade Regulation and Consumer Protection, in particular, has reffered our concern to the Department of Health - Food and Drugs Administration and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),which according to Mr. Gerald Calderon, Officer-In-Charge, Consumer andTrade Policy Division, have jurisdiction over this matter.
"We will continue to exhaust all opportunities to get a formal response fromVenus Commercial Co. Inc. and secure its commitment to voluntarily withdraw the lead-laden Artex Fine Water Colors from the market, andproduce properly labeled non-lead art supplies."
EcoWaste Coalition, a community of groups fighting for ecologically sustainable waste management, recently uncovered dangerous amounts of lead in five watercolor sets obtained from different stores in Manila. The watercolor sets were found to have been manufactured by stores based in Malabon City.
The discovery was the result of the EcoWaste Coalition’s project that monitors the compliance of local art supplies manufacturers with the Philippines’ regulatory policy on lead. The group procured a total of 22 watercolor sets from different art supply stores in Quezon City, Manila and Makati City and used these as samples.
The watercolor sets were screened using a portable X-ray fluorescence device. Once the sets with lead were detected, they were then sent to a private laboratory, SGS, for confirmatory analysis.
Last December 2013, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued a Chemical Order for Lead and Lead Compounds which condemns incorporating lead into school supplies.
Said Dizon, “The presence of such developmental toxicant on a basic art tool for kids raises a valid health and safety concern justifying immediate withdrawal of the lead-laden water color sets from the market.
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“Lead enters a child’s body when it is inhaled or ingested,” Dizon added. “It can also be transferred from the mother across the placenta to the fetus. Permanent damage to health can happen when lead, even at low levels, is used by a child’s growing body to make brain connections, bones and muscles, instead of calcium and other vital nutrients.
“Children are particularly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of lead. Relatively low levels of exposure can reduce IQ scores, and cause learning disabilities, poor school performance or violent behavior, and result in reduced lifetime earnings.”
EcoWaste Coalition has since urged the five sets to recall these products and to use non-toxic materials instead. The DENR has also been notified.
On the other hand, the following watercolor sets were found to have either low or no toxic amounts of lead, and are therefore safe to use by kids:
Bought from Merriam & Webster Bookstore (Carvajal St., Binondo, Manila)
1.Acuarela 18 Colores
3.Kidz Water Colors
4.Li’l Hands Arts
5.Crafts Water Color
7.One product with no name
Bought from National Book Store (Cubao Superstore, Quezon City)
8. Best Buy Water Color
9. Dong-A Kids Water Color10. HBW Water Color Cake
11. Hello Kitty Water Color
12. Water Color #50325
13. Water Color #96012H
14. Water Colour #8716H
15. Water Color #9308H
16. Water Colour bought from National Book Store (Cubao Superstore, Quezon City)
Bought from VMZ Store (Guadalupe Shopping Center, Makati City)