Public urged to choose safe toys for children this Christmas

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) yesterday advised the public to choose safe toys for children this Christmas to ensure their safety.

The DOH defines a safe toy as “one that is suitable to the child’s physical capabilities, mental and social development, durable and safe for the child’s age.”

“We must not only look at the value but also the quality of the item. Aside from being appealing and suitable for a child’s age, toys should be safe,” DOH Secretary Janette Garin said.

For newborns to one-year-old children, the DOH recommended toys such as rattles, large and brightly colored balls, washable stuffed dolls or animals with big and clearly defined faces.

Toys such as wooden animals, dolls, sturdy kiddie cars, modeling clay and rocking horses are recommended for toddlers.

“Always check labels on the packaging and observe precautions appearing in labels. Ensure that the child will play with a toy suited for his or her age under adult supervision. After unwrapping the gifts, dispose of plastic packaging accordingly and keep it out of reach of children.” Garin said.

For children below three years old, the DOH does not recommend balls with a diameter of 1.75 inches or less so as to prevent choking; toys that easily break into small parts or pieces that may be swallowed and lodged in the throat, and toys with sharp points and edges.

According to Garin, toys may contain harmful chemicals such as lead.

Toy manufacturers, importers and distributors are required to secure a certificate of conformity from the Food and Drug Administration to ensure that toys are toxin-free.

The DOH advised consumers to buy toys from legitimate toy establishments.

“Let’s welcome Christmas and New Year safely. Let’s make sure that the gifts we give our loved ones will make them happy and not put their health at risk,” Garin said.

For its part, the Ecowaste Coalition expressed concern over the recycling of plastics containing toxic substances into children’s toys.

The group cited as example two of the four pieces of China-made imitation Rubik’s Cube that it sent to the Czech Republic for laboratory analysis which showed significant levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) called OctaBDE and/or DecaBDE.

PBDEs refer to a group of brominated flame retardants which are highly toxic. It is commonly used in electronics such as computers and television sets as well as in recycled foam padding in carpet and furniture.

EcoWaste explained that OctaBDE and DecaBDE can disrupt human hormone systems, creating potential adverse effects on the development of the nervous system and children’s IQ.

“Recycling of plastics containing toxic substances such as flame retardants into toys raises health and safety concerns as this could expose kids to toxic substances known to interfere with brain and nervous system development,” Thony Dizon, coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect, said.

Toxic chemicals should not be recycled into consumer products, especially toys for children, according to Joe DiGangi, senior science and technical advisor of IPEN, a global civil society network for safe chemicals policies and practices.

The group purchased 10 samples of imitation Rubik’s Cube from retail outlets in Manila and had them screened for bromine using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence device. The four samples that had bromine content higher than 1,000 parts per million were sent to Czech Republic for laboratory analysis. – With Rhodina Villanueva












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