Advocacy groups warn consumers vs toxic holiday lights

By: Jane Baustista - Philippine Daily Inquirer | November 30,2023 - 12:22 PM

MANILA, Philippines — As the Christmas season nears, environmental and advocacy groups have warned consumers against buying uncertified Christmas lights that are not only potentially toxic but also fire hazards as well as plastic toys containing a banned ingredient.

According to the Ecowaste Coalition, 10 of the 15 Christmas lights it bought in Binondo, Manila, and in Libertad, Pasay City, lacked the Philippine Standard (PS) mark or Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) sticker, while two of the uncertified products also did not have label.

The group warned that the absence of a PS mark or ICC sticker meant that the products did not go through the required certification process of the Bureau of Philippine Standards and might not be compliant with quality and safety standards.

Purchased for P100 to P250 per set, the 10 uncertified products were Crown Star Decorative Lights, GTP Great Power Solar String Light, Joy Origin LED Solar Energy, LED Solar Light, Multi-Function LED Lights, Solar Powered String Lights, NuoDalk LED Solar String Light, Wish Star Solar String Lights, and two unlabeled products.

More than the limit

Ecowaste also said that using an x-ray fluorescence analyzer which determines the elemental composition of materials, it found lead in the green cables linking the Christmas lights in nine of the products.

The toxic chemical ranged from 3,220 to 8,440 parts per million (ppm), higher than the 1,000 ppm limit under the European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) in all electrical and electronic products.

The RoHS specifies the levels for restricted substances in electrical and electronic products such as heavy metals cadmium, hexavalent chromium, lead, and mercury, among others.

“Choose Christmas lights with a valid PS mark or ICC sticker for the safety of your family this festive season,” Ecowaste said, adding that “it was better to be safe than sorry later.”

READ MORE: Education campaign on heavy rains, Christmas lights to be held this week — Mandaue DRRMO

Plastic toys

BAN Toxic, another watchdog group, cautioned the public against buying bouncy and squeaky plastic toys known as inflatable hoppers that could contain “chlorinated paraffin.”

It said that the mixture widely used in plastic products like children’s toys posed health risks like liver and kidney damage, disruptions in the endocrine system, cancer, developmental brain impairments, and threats to reproductive health.

The group noted that short-chain chlorinated paraffins — used as flame retardants, adhesives, sealants, and secondary plasticizers — were banned globally under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, to which the Philippines was a signatory.

The toys, BAN Toxic said, were being sold in stores in Baclaran and Pasay City for P60 to P300 each.

“The manufacture, sale, and use of these toxic chemicals in plastic toys should be prohibited in the Philippine market since it is already banned under the Stockholm Convention to prevent potential health risks to children,” the group added.

Both BAN Toxics and Ecowaste asked government agencies concerned to step up their monitoring of consumer products and work toward the elimination of toxic ingredients.

READ MORE: DTI to consumers: Buy Christmas lights with PS mark or ICC sticker

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TAGS: Christmas, Ecowaste Coalition

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