Group warns against toxic school items

AS parents shop for new school supplies, a public interest group warned them against buying items that can expose their children to harmful chemicals.

Sonia Mendoza of the EcoWaste Coalition and the Mother Earth Foundation noted that back-to-school shopping can be woefully toxic.

“Whether you hunt for bargains in Divisoria or buy from the malls, you will be swamped with colorful and trendy items containing lots of chemicals that can pose significant health risks, especially in growing children,” said Mendoza.

The coalition pressed for consumer vigilance against toys and school items that contain dangerous substances such as those described as “intellectual

robbers” or chemicals that can get in the way of a child’s mental and behavioral development.

The coalition cited the “Back-to-School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies” that the US-based Center for Health, Environment and Justice published to empower parents to make smarter and healthier shopping choices.

The guide pointed out that “children are at risk from even small exposure to these toxic chemicals. That’s why it’s especially important to purchase PVC-free school supplies.”

It recommended that consumers avoid three other plastics because of their toxic contents: acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polycarbonate (PC) and polystyrene (PS).

Mendoza said they are particularly uneasy with the obviously unregulated glut of school supplies that are made out of polyvinyl chloride plastic such as backpacks, binders, lunch boxes and clear plastic sheets as book and notebook cover.

PVC plastic, often labeled as “vinyl” or plastic #3, contains poisonous additives to soften or stabilize it such as phthalates (pronounced as “thal-ates”) that can eventually seep out or disperse into the air posing risks to children’s health.

The disposal of PVC products is also a complicated problem since these products do not disintegrate but discharge dioxins, a toxic substance, when burned, according to the coalition.

“Given the known health and environmental risks, we urge consumers to be on the side of precaution and go for safer, healthy and ecological alternatives to PVC school products,” the coalition said.

Some of these alternatives include cloth, nylon and polyester backpacks, cardboard, fabric or poly plastic binders, cloth lunch bags, and unlined stainless steel or opaque plastic bottles.

Consumers need to be watchful of these toxic buys.


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