Lovers warned about gifts that could be kiss of death | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

MANILA, Philippines—On Valentine’s Day, don’t give gifts that could be a kiss of death.

The Ecowaste Coalition on Monday warned the public to be careful when buying Valentine’s Day gifts, saying suspected tainted items sold in the City of Manila could turn a couple into a virtual Romeo and Juliet—in love but poisoned.

The environmental group said it discovered traces of heavy metals in 13 out of 20 (65 percent) products bought from formal and informal retailers in Binondo, Divisoria, Quiapo and Sta. Cruz, all in Manila.

Ecowaste said it purchased heart-shaped pillows, plush toys, mugs, panty rose (underwear, often a red lace thong, folded and tucked into a fake rose) and other Valentine’s Days knick-knacks and tested them for toxicity. The group’s study revealed they contained toxic chemicals like cadmium and lead, two of the “Ten Chemicals of Major Public Health Concern” classified by the World Health Organization.

According to the WHO, “cadmium exerts toxic effects on the kidney, the skeletal and the respiratory systems, and is classified as a human carcinogen.” Lead, on the other hand, “is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems, including the neurologic, hematologic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and renal systems.”

The group bought the items on February10-12 and screened them for cadmium, lead and other heavy metals on February 13 using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer.

“Our findings indicate that some Valentine Day’s gifts and accessories are laced with hazardous chemicals that can harm people we care about,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Levels detected ranged from 1,248 parts per million (ppm) to 2,059 ppm for cadmium (exceeding the 75 ppm limit under the proposed US Children’s Toxic Metals Act) and 159 ppm to 6,713 ppm for lead (exceeding the lead in paint limit under the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act).

Ecowaste warned against buying a mug with the message “World’s Best Lover.” It may be the biggest compliment your lover can give to you, but it also has the highest amount of cadmium at 2,059 ppm. It was also tested positive for lead at 6,628 ppm and contains traces of arsenic and antimony.

Another mug with the image of a cheerful boy holding a bouquet of hearts tested the highest level for lead at 6,713 ppm and also had 1,951 ppm of cadmium. Ecowaste said the mug also has arsenic, chromium and antimony.

It would also be wise to snub a “Garfield” stuffed toy. Tests by the group showed it contains 1,785 ppm of lead, 1,346 ppm of chromium, 296 ppm of arsenic and 171 ppm of antimony.

Lucero noted that “none of the samples had complete product information, keeping consumers in the dark about who made the products, their chemical contents and their effects to health.”

She said the chemicals found in the Valentine’s Day gifts were carcinogenic, adding that the safe level for lead is 90 ppm (parts per million) and 75 ppm for cadmium.

The group warned that fetuses, young children, workers and women of child-bearing age were most susceptible to the effects of lead exposure and poisoning.

Citing information from WHO, the group said that lead absorbed by the fetus can cause difficulties during pregnancy, including miscarriage, premature birth and low birth-weight.

While adults are not as highly at risk as children are to lead exposure, they can experience problems in their reproductive, nervous, cardiovascular and digestive systems.