Some Valentine's gifts are toxic

Posted at 02/13/13 7:15 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Who knew love can be toxic?

Literally speaking, that is, if you're one of those who are fond of giving away popular Valentine mugs, shot glasses and other figurines.

Consumer watchdog EcoWaste Coalition discovered that some of these products might be toxic.

Of the 38 products bought in Divisoria and a popular bookstore that the group screened, 29 tested positive for lead and other heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, antimony, chromium and mercury.

EcoWaste Coalition's Tony Dizon said among the most "valentoxic" products are ceramics mugs with dangerous metals way above safe levels.

Some of the mugs had very high levels of lead. One mug had 40,700 parts per million (ppm) lead, 5,661ppm arsenic, 5,432ppm cadmium, abd 1,429ppm antimony.

Another had 35,600ppm lead.

Based on the US Consumer Product Safety Act of 2008, the allowable limits for lead is only 100ppm, cadmium 75ppm, arsenic 25ppm, and mercury20 ppm.

Toxicologist Dr. Wency Kiat of the Philippine Society of Clinical and Occupational Toxicology said the presence of high levels of heavy metals is worrisome.

While lead poisoning is rare, Kiat said one never knows the long-term effects of using the mugs.

Kiat added that it's even more dangerous when you heat the mug or drink hot liquids like coffee or tea or acidic juices because the chemical may leech from the mug and mix with your drink.

He said lead, arsenic and mercury may damage the nerves, brain, kidney or cause hypertension.

Arsenic also causes cancer.