EcoWaste Coalition warns public against lead-laced crayons

By Chito Chavez

A toxic and environmental watchdog has warned the public against the use of lead-laced crayons that have hazardous effects on people’s health.

Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition said consumer products contaminated with lead is dangerous even at low level of exposure, especially for growing children.

Ultra Colours Crayons (EcoWaste Coalition / MANILA BULLETIN) Ultra Colours Crayons (EcoWaste Coalition / MANILA BULLETIN)

The group issued its latest toxic alert after screening “Ultra Colours Crayons” for lead and other heavy metals using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device.

Members of EcoWaste Coalition made the discovery after purchasing two 16-piece crayon sets from a department store in Ozamiz City last Saturday for just P12.50.

As written on the label, the crayons were manufactured by Caloocan City-based Supreme Wax & Candle and were supposedly "non-toxic".

The group recalled that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017 had warned consumers against “Ultra Colours Jumbo Crayons” manufactured by Supreme Wax & Candle that were verified to contain lead.

For the “Ultra Colours Crayons” purchased by the EcoWaste Coalition, lead was detected in various colors from 126 to 13,700 part per million (ppm), in excess of the maximum allowable limit of not more than 90 ppm.

Out of 32 crayon sticks, 10 were found to be laden with lead.

The yellow, pink, yellow-green, and white crayons were found to contain 13,700, 5,556, 5,484 and 4,414 ppm of lead, respectively.

“Children’s products such as toys and school supplies should contain no lead as this chemical is known to harm children’s health even in small amounts,” stated Thony Dizon, EcoWaste Coalition’s Chemical Safety Campaigner.

“While lead-containing paint and dust are the most common sources of lead poisoning in children, lead-containing crayons and other lead-containing objects in the home and school environment may also expose children to lead posing serious health concerns,” he added.

The World Health Organization has confirmed, “there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe.”

According to the FDA, “lead produces a spectrum of injury across multiple body systems.
In particular, lead affects children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioral changes such as reduced attention span, and increased anti-social behavior and reduced educational attainment.

“Their hand-to-mouth behaviors, as well as their innate curiosity, predisposed them to put objects in their mouth resulting to unintended exposure to multiple hazardous substances such as lead,” the FDA said.

“Accordingly, to protect them from unnecessary hazards, parents, school teachers and guardians are strongly advised to strictly monitor the children especially when children are engaged in activities wherein adult supervision is required,” the FDA pointed out.

To protect children against lead exposure, the EcoWaste Coalition advised parents to discard lead-containing crayons and to pick safe toys and school supplies conforming to regulatory standards and requirements.

The group also urged the manufacturer to recall their non-compliant crayons and for dealers and retailers to stop distributing such unsafe products.