By Chito Chavez
With holiday gift items now stacked in department stores and bargain stalls, a Quezon City-based environmental group has renewed its call to health authorities to analyze slime toys for boron, which is classified as “reprotoxic” or a substance that can interfere with normal reproduction.
Earlier, EcoWaste Coalition sent a letter to the Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requesting both agencies to test slime toys for boron, an element added to slime toys to give them their gelatinous texture.
EcoWaste Coalition explained that boric acid in particular is on the European Union’s “candidate list” of substances of very high concern (SVHC) because it is “toxic for reproduction.”
“We urge the DOH and/or FDA to embark on post-marketing surveillance targeting slime toys being sold in licensed commercial establishments, general merchandise and toy stores, and on online shopping platforms, and have them analyzed for boron,” said EcoWaste Coalition Chemical Safety Campaigner Thony Dizon.
“We make this suggestion after a spate of notifications from other governments against slime toys containing high levels of boron caught our attention. Exposure to excessive amounts of borax and boric acid can cause health problems from irritation, diarrhea, nausea, and cramps, to reproductive disorders,” he added.
The group cited the notifications issued from August to September 2019 by regulatory agencies in Finland, Germany, Hungary, and Luxembourg against slime toys containing high concentrations of boron.
According to the notifications, which are posted in the European Union’s Rapid Alert System: “The migration of boron from the toy slime is too high. Ingestion or contact with an excessive quantity of boron may harm the health of children by damaging the reproductive system.”
EcoWaste Coalition also cited product recalls in Canada this September for slime toys that do not meet the country’s toy safety requirements in relation to boric acid.
According to Health Canada: “Boric acid can be toxic to children if licked or swallowed. Children are more sensitive to boric acid toxicity than adults. High levels of boric acid ingestion may have long-term effects on a child’s development and their future reproductive health.”
Based on EcoWaste Coalition’s market monitoring, slime toys, which are quite popular among young children, are widely available in formal and informal toy stores from as low as P5 per unit.
Out of 25 slime toys that the group earlier bought from retailers in Paco and Sta. Ana, Manila, 12 were found to be partially labeled and 13 were totally unlabeled.
Only one product lists its ingredients, and not even one contains information about the product’s manufacturer, importer. or distributor, the group observed.
“Health authorities should have these slime toys tested for boron to determine if they are safe for children to play with,” the EcoWaste Coalition concluded.