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Top retailers urged to pull tainted children’s products off store shelves

MANILA, July 29 — The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxic watchdog, Friday asked top retailers to demonstrate their corporate social responsibility by removing children’s products that have been found to contain health damaging chemicals.

The EcoWaste Coalition and IPEN, in collaboration with project partners in Manila, Cebu and Davao, recently released the results of their investigation showing 121 samples, or over 27 percent, of the 435 children’s products tested were loaded with excessive amounts of toxic metals such as lead, a neurotoxin.

Some of the tainted products were procured by the EcoWaste Coalition from National Book Store (NBS) (SM City North EDSA and Ayala Mall-Cebu), Toys R Us (Robinsons Galleria-Quezon City, Robinsons Place-Cebu and Robinsons in Abreeza Mall-Davao City), Toy Kingdom (SM City North EDSA, SM Cebu and SM Davao) and other formal retailers with official receipts issued.

The samples were screened for toxic ingredients such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer, a device that is routinely used by U.S. regulatory bodies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The screening was conducted by Dr. Joe DiGangi, Senior Science and Policy Adviser of IPEN, who left the country last Wednesday.

In separate letters sent by Roy Alvarez, president of the EcoWaste Coalition, to Socorro Reyes (NBS), John Gokongwei Jr. (Robinsons) and Henry Sy Sr. (SM), the group expressed serious concern over the sale of children’s products that tested positive with extreme levels of toxic metals.

The letters were delivered Friday to the corporate offices of NBS in Mandaluyong City, Robinsons in Quezon City, and SM in Pasay City.

“As recognized market leaders, we urge your companies to take immediate action and stop selling items loaded with toxic metals that could irreparably damage children’s health, development and future,” he said.

“Removing the tainted products from your stores would be a commendable act of corporate responsibility on the part of your companies,” he said.

“We have written to you first in the hope of eliciting your earnest cooperation that can be emulated by other retailers, including those in Baclaran and Divisoria in Metro Manila, Bankerohan in Davao City and other toy centers,” he said. (PNA)

scs/FFC/PR/mec

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