^

You’d better watch out for excessive lead in Christmas decorations

CONSUMERLINE - Ching M. Alano (The Philippine Star) - November 12, 2013 - 12:00am

If you’re a mom or you’re like a lot of moms I know, you must have put up or are starting to put up your Christmas décor at home.

Is the Christmas tree up already? It’s something kids — and kids at heart — look forward to decorating with all those sparkling trimmings and trappings Christmas after Christmas. Christmas just ain’t Christmas without a Christmas tree — or two or three. I remember as a child, we had a big Christmas tree (an artificial one) inside the house and a small one (fresh and real) in our front yard.

But wait, before you get all wrapped up in the decorating frenzy, hear (and heed) this warning: Beware of the excessive levels of lead, a highly toxic chemical, and other hidden toxins in some Christmas lights and other yuletide decorations.

Preparing to decorate their own homes, some members of the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network promoting zero waste and chemical safety, went out to buy some Christmas decorations and sadly discovered dangerous levels of toxic metals in 62 out of 80 Christmas decorations using their X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device.

The assorted samples, costing P15 to P199 each, were purchased last October 25 to 28 from retail shops in Divisoria and Quiapo, Manila; Monumento, Caloocan City; and Mega-Q-Mart, Quezon City.  As early as October, the stores were bursting with early Christmas budget shoppers out haggling each other.

Subjected to the XRF and closely scrutinized were some Christmas balls, bells, foliage, garlands, lanterns, trees, trinkets, serving platters, and table decorations featuring favorite Christmas characters like Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus.

Hoho-horrible! Good old Santa Claus would have exclaimed after finding out that lead up to 23,500 parts per million (ppm) was detected in 50 samples (well above 90 ppm, the US limit for lead in paint and surface coatings).  The other 12 samples contained antimony, arsenic, cadmium or chromium above levels of concern.

The World Health Organization (WHO) names lead as one of the 10 chemicals of major public health concern. Lead is extremely dangerous when ingested or inhaled, especially by babies and young children, as it is known to cause irreparable damage to children’s developing brain.

A high-risk group, children exposed to lead suffer such problems as learning disabilities, speech and language impairment, decreased intelligence, attention deficit disorder, reduced bone and muscle growth, and behavioral issues.

 â€œLead is dangerous even at low levels; hence the need to curb all avoidable sources of exposure as much as possible, including lead in paint, dust, and soil and, of course, in consumer products,” warns Thony Dizon, coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect. “Children are most prone to lead exposure because their bodies are still developing and they tend to explore their surroundings by touching, tasting, biting or chewing anything they can get their hands on, including the power cord of Christmas lights and the trimmings and trinkets of a Christmas tree.”

Dizon further explains, “There is also the risk of lead in lead-containing decorations to come off as the lead-painted or glazed surface deteriorates, thus contaminating the ground where children gather and play with lead dust.”

Dizon also zeroes in on the risk of indoor air pollution from the outgassing of nasty chemicals from plastic-based Christmas decorations, and the occupational hazard routinely faced by workers making or handling such products from the production to the disposal chain.

To minimize lead exposure and environmental pollution, especially at home and in the workplace, EcoWaste Coalition urges everyone to choose Christmas decorations that are made of natural and non-toxic materials.  “Avoid lead-painted decorations and those made of PVC materials containing lead used as pigment or stabilizer. Let us keep toxic chemicals out of our Christmas shopping list for a safer yuletide celebration  and a healthier home environment for our children.”

So, here are the top 20 samples laden with extremely high levels of lead:

1. A big yellow star PVC plastic lantern (23,500 ppm)

2. A medium yellow star PVC plastic lantern with ring (16,100)

3. A small yellow PVC star plastic lantern (13,600 ppm)

4. A plate with a Christmas tree design (11,800 ppm)

5. A multi-purpose Snowman ceramic container (11,000 ppm).

6. A ceramic Gingerbread House (9,513 ppm)

7. A tiny green star PVC plastic lantern (7,868 ppm)

8. A medium red star PVC plastic lantern (6,943 ppm)

9. An ornamental house-shaped kettle (6,836 ppm)

10. A multi-color star PVC plastic lantern (6,614 ppm)

11. An evergreen vinyl garland (6,162 ppm)

12. A ceramic Christmas ball (5,249 ppm)

13. A small blue star PVC plastic lantern (5,023)

14. A decorative plate for display (4,388 ppm)

15. A Christmas tree-shaped plate (4,200 ppm)

16. A Santa Claus standing next to a Christmas tree candle set (3,590 ppm)

17. An elf figure (3,267 ppm)

18. A Merry Christmas trinket (2,833 ppm)

19. A candleholder with chicken design (2,707 ppm)

20. A moon-shaped Santa Claus trinket (2,404 ppm)

Have yourself a merry and safe Christmas!

 

A CHRISTMAS A MERRY CHRISTMAS A SANTA CLAUS CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS LEAD PLASTIC PPM PVC SANTA CLAUS
  • Latest
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with