At the time of this writing, television screens are flashing how many days there are to go before Christmas. You think about what to buy for gifts. Fortunately, the people next door are all old enough to appreciate simple gifts. The real concern is a 3-year old niece whose fondness for toys could be measured at ten-to-the-23rd-power this holiday season. The easiest thing to do would be to just take her on a tour of a store and let her have a toy of her own choosing. Just be sure her chosen toy is safe and non-hazardous.
Loose, small parts that may be swallowed or cause choking when munched by very young children; sharp-edged toy features that may cut or even blind; and cords or cables longer than 12 inches are just some of those hazards.
When the Ecowaste Coalition was formed in 2000, it supported public health campaigns and pursued sustainable solutions to waste and climate change. To its advocacies, the group has added safe and non-toxic toys.
Just before the 31st ASEAN Summit saw leaders from all over the world converging in Manila, the EcoWaste Coalition held an event with the end in view of upholding children’s right to safe games and toys in the ASEAN marketplace. Attending the event in the nation’s capital were some 150 children accompanied by parents and teachers.
Also present were representatives from groups such as Buklod Kabataan, Laban Kosyumer, Inc. ROTCHNA Daycare, and East Avenue Medical center. Also noted at the event, which saw a Santa Claus figure cheering the children, were the third anniversary of the adoption by the Commission of Human Rights of the The People’s Right to Chemical Safety (Nov. 14) and the 28th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on Nov. 20.
On behalf of the EcoWaste Coalition, Chemical Safety Campaigner Thony Dizon mentioned the need to protect children from playthings of poor quality and misleading labels. He emphasized that such toys are still circulated and sought the cooperation of ASEAN member countries, especially China.
For his part, Atty. Vic Dimagiba of Laban Konsyumer, Inc. cited Republic Act 10620 or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013. Strangely enough, despite having been enacted into law four years ago, the said Act still does not have its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).
The biggest problem is that chemicals present in hazardous toys are not seen by the purchaser. All you want to see is your niece gleefully playing with her gift, and not getting sick from cadmium, lead, mercury, and other chemicals.
When taking that child to a toy-buying spree this holiday season, it will be to your benefit – and the child’s welfare – to remember an 8-point Santa’s Guide for Safe Toys drawn up by the EcoWaste Coalition. That toy must have the following criteria:
- must be recommended for child’s age
- no miniature parts
- cord or cable less than 12 inches
- not painted with lead
- not built from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic; and
- properly labeled and registered
Indeed, it may be necessary to return a toy to the shelf if it happens to fail the criteria above. Always better a safe child than a sorry one.