'Avoid toxic school supplies'

Posted at 05/25/11 8:25 PM

MANILA, Philippines - An environmental watchdog advised parents and students to avoid buying school supplies that are made of polyvinyl chloride or PVC.

Five types of school supplies usually used by students have been found to contain the harmful PVC after these have been sent by the group EcoWaste Coalition to Taiwan for testing last year.

EcoWaste Coalition advised the public not to buy colored metal spiral notebooks as the colored plastic coating on wires have PVC.

A better alternative is the spiral notebook with metal wire that has no color or the non-spiral notebook.

"Ang PVC ay poison plastic. Meron itong sangkap na phthalates na nakakasama sa reproductive system lalo na sa mga bata," said Aileen Lucero, chemical safety campaigner of EcoWaste Coalition.

The group added that when they sent some school supplies to Taiwan for testing last year, results showed that these have a high level of PVC: a green long plastic envelope, PVC plastic cover, PVC notebook cover, the glossy part of a PVC lunch bag, and a PVC backpack.

The group also warned the public against buying backpacks with shiny or glossy plastic designs, and boots and raincoats made of PVC.

The Department of Health (DOH) agreed that PVC may pose danger to one's health, but clarified that it is only dangerous if it has been ingested by mouth.

"Nililinaw lang namin ang stand ng DOH na kapag isinubo at nginuya ito, doon pa lamang nagiging harmful ito. Sa mga pag-aaral kasi, naka-post na wala itong risk kung hinawakan lang," said Dr. Eric Tayag, DOH Assistant Secretary and Director of the National Epidemiology Center.

The DOH also advised the public to just buy school supplies that are nontoxic to ensure the safety of users.

It also warned parents against buying erasers with "flavor" as these may be mistaken for candies by children. -- Report from Sol Aragones, ABS-CBN News