Watchdog finds toxic lead in Valentine cups, mugs

By on February 13, 2016


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MANILA—The EcoWaste Coalition, a watchdog group on hazardous chemicals in products and wastes, cautioned the public from buying toxic cups and mugs as Valentine gifts.

“Love-struck Pinoys should steer clear of gifts that are laden with chemicals that can harm human health,” said Thony Dizon, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect coordinator.

“Leaded glazes and paints on love-themed cups and mugs are of particular concern because of their availability not only on Valentine’s Day but almost all-year-round,” he said.

Information obtained from the website of Australia’s Department of the Environment states that “lead used in ceramic glazes or in decorative paints covering the surface of ceramics can be a health hazard for potters, and for people using their products.”

“This is because the lead can get into food and drink prepared, stored or served in the crockery,” it explained.

Dizon warned that lead is a potent neurotoxin that can interfere with the normal development of the brain and the central nervous system.

“Lead builds up in the human body, so even low levels of exposure can pose health risks over time,” he said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated “there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe.”

The EcoWaste Coalition group aired its latest toxics warning after finding high levels of lead in 22 out 23 samples of cups and mugs in the range of 1,028 to 31,900 parts per million (ppm), way above the 90 ppm limit for lead in decorative paints.

The lone sample that passed the lead limit had 2,147 ppm of cadmium, a carcinogenic substance.

The samples were procured from street vendors and retail shops in Manila and Quezon Cities from PHP20 to PHP108 each and were screened for toxic metals using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.

Both lead and cadmium are listed in the WHO’s “top 10 chemicals of major public health concern.”

Listed below are some of the samples with the highest lead levels:

A mug with the text “Crazy Love” had 31,900 ppm lead

A mug with the words “fantastic friend” had 21,000 ppm lead

A glass mug with “I love you” had 14,500 ppm lead

A mug with multi-color heart design had 13,900 ppm

A “Hello Kitty” mug with hearts had 11,200 ppm lead

A mug with the note “it’s not my feet but my heart that always bring me to you” had 8,468 ppm lead

A mug that says “World’s Best Lover” had 8,278 ppm lead

A mug with the word “kiss” had 7,582 ppm lead

A mug with the message “let your heart show the way” had 6,621 ppm lead

A mug that says “I love you” with a free teddy bear had 5.612 ppm lead