MANILA — Back-to-school shoppers beware: “Artex Fine Water Colors,” which the government recently banned for containing excessive lead content, is still being offered for sale at discount stores in Manila and Quezon Cities.
Based on the market monitoring conducted Saturday by the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlertToxic Patrol, the prescribed art material is still available for sale from P60 in Divisoria and Paco, Manila City and in Commonwealth Market, Quezon City.
“Vendors should abide by the ban order and stop selling Artex for children’s health and safety, and consumers should be on their guard against school supplies that may expose their kids to lead and other toxins. Lead, in particular, is toxic if ingested or inhaled and can cause undesirable health consequences, including learning deficits, lower IQ scores and behavioural problems,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect
“Those who may have already bought the lead-tainted item should return it to the vendor for possible replacement or refund, or store in the cabinet out of reach and out of sight of children,” he added.
Last Thursday, the Food and Drugs Administration issued Advisory No. 2014-044 instructing FDA’s field officers to seize the said product after laboratory analysis of samples procured and tested by the agency confirmed high levels of lead above “the maximum tolerable limit of 90 parts per million (ppm)”.
The FDA’s action was in response to the report made by the EcoWaste Coalition in April 2014, indicating high lead concentrations in samples of Artex based on screening conducted by the group using an X-Ray Fluorescence device, which were subsequently confirmed by laboratory tests performed by SGS, a global testing company.
The two samples of Artex Fine Water Colors analyzed by the FDA Central Laboratory had 3,342 ppm and 5,089 ppm of lead, while the three samples sent to the SGS by the EcoWaste Coalition were found to contain 5,900 ppm, 17,000 ppm and 37,000 ppm of lead.
According to the FDA letter to the EcoWaste Coalition dated 28 April 2014, Venus Commercial Co., Inc., manufacturer of Artex Fine Water Colors, “has no valid license to operate (LTO) and that the product is not registered/notified nor is there pending applicaton for the registration/notification of the product.”
The FDA has ordered its field officers to seize the said product, close down the unlicensed supplier, and further continue monitoring unregistered school supplies and do-it-yourself products that may pose risks to the health of children.
“Lead has tendency to accumulate slowly in the body when ingested over prolonged period of time. Lead may be deposited in the bones and teeth, and can be found in blood,” the FDA advisory said.
Chronic lead poisoning can cause nervous system toxicity and renal tubular dysfunction leading to irreversible interstitial nephrosis with progressive renal impairment and hypertension. Lead can also depress blood synthesis and shortens the life span of erythrocytes or red blood cells, causing a hypochromic microcytic anaemia,” the advisory further said.
The public is strongly advised to buy watercolor paints, among other school supplies and do-it-yourself products that are registered/notified with the FDA, supplied or distributed by FDA-licensed establishments and sold by legitimate outlets, the advisory emphasized.