August 22, 2022 | 00:00
MANILA, Philippines – Environmental watchdogs EcoWaste Coalition and Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) have warned parents and government authorities against school supplies containing the toxic substance phthalates, which can be harmful to children .
In a joint press release, environmental groups said phthalates, a synthetic compound typically used to soften polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic products, are among the known endocrine disruptors or endocrine disruptors.
According to EcoWaste and IDIS, exposure to high concentrations of phthalates can affect hormones such as estrogen or testosterone. It may also interfere with normal growth and brain development in children.
“Children are unknowingly ingesting phthalates from a plastic gum each time they put it in their mouth. Exposure to phthalates can harm a child’s health, including contributing to neurodevelopmental and behavioral problems, obesity as well as an increased risk of allergic diseases such as asthma,” said Lemuel Manalo, IDIS program coordinator.
EcoWaste adviser Manny Calonzo said that besides plastic erasers, other potential sources of phthalates are PVC plastic school supplies such as backpacks, raincoats, vinyl toys, processed foods , cosmetics and floor coverings.
“It’s important to minimize, if not eliminate, these sources to protect children from exposure to phthalates,” Calonzo said.
EcoWaste and IDIS cited the results of phthalate analysis of gum samples from the Philippines, conducted by the Wonjin Institute for Occupational and Environmental Health, with support from the Korea Financial Industry Public Interest Foundation under the EDC project -Free Asia.
Of 40 gum samples purchased from retailers in the Philippines and sent to South Korea for analysis, 31 or 78 percent contained one or more phthalates such as DEHP, DBP, DiBP and DINP. Among the samples, 19 or 48% had a phthalate concentration of 10.1% to 36.7%.