A TOXICS watchdog warned the public against buying toy ukuleles laden with lead.
The EcoWaste Coalition said it found toy ukuleles containing the highly toxic chemical in souvenir shops in the cities of Cebu and Lapu-Lapu.
In a press statement, the group said it bought 10 toy ukuleles from souvenir shops near the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño in Cebu City and at the Mactan Liberty Shrine in Lapu-Lapu City last June 14 and 15.
All the toys tested positive for lead after being screened using an x-ray fluorescence device.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has banned the use of lead in producing toys, school supplies and other consumer products since December after the coalition called its attention to the harmful effects of lead.
“Almost one year had gone by since the last screening we conducted and we still find lead in Cebu-made ukuleles,” said Thony Dizon, coordinator of the coalition’s Project Protect.
“We are disappointed to see that ukulele makers have yet to switch despite the commercial availability of lead-safe paints in various colors and applications,” added Dizon.
Last year, the coalition found six samples of ukuleles that contained lead.
Moresa Tolibas, technical officer of the coalition’s Lead Paint Elimination Project, said a ukulele’s leaded coating will wear out, “creating toxic chips and dust that can get into children’s hands and mouths.”
“It’s even possible for a child to bite on the painted surface of the ukulele as she or he play with it, directly ingesting high levels of lead in paints,” she said.
The coalition pointed out that health experts have determined no safe level of lead in blood, meaning even low doses can cause irreversible damage to a child’s health.
The World Health Organization, the coalition said, has linked childhood exposure to lead to irreversible brain and neurological damage resulting in decreased intelligence, learning difficulties, hearing loss, developmental delays and behavioral problems.
The coalition advised consumers to buy only products properly labeled as lead-safe.
The coalition recently concluded a five-day workshop on the implementation of the European Union-funded Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project.
The workshop was attended by environmentalists from the Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, Sweden, Czech Republic and the United States.