Press Release/6 June 2019

“Be careful when you buy school supplies for your children.”

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III today made the appeal as classes resume in the nation and parents make last minute trips to complete their children’s school supplies for this school year.

Last year, some school supply products were found by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to contain unacceptable levels of heavy metals, including lead, cadmium and mercury. These products are 12-in-1 pencil, Fairyland (brand) 16 Crayons, and Leehoe (brand) Glitter Fabric Paint Pens.

In their advisory, the FDA cited the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that said lead exposure in children may have long-lasting or permanent consequences, such as neurological damage, delayed mental and physical development, attention and learning deficiencies, impairment of cognitive functions of the brain, and hearing problems.

Long-term exposure from inhalation of cadmium may result to chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, emphysema, chronic kidney diseases, the CPSC report also said.

Mercury, another heavy metal, is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern. According to the WHO, exposure to mercury even in small amounts may cause serious health problems and is a threat to the development of the fetus in pregnant women.

The advisory explained that children, because of their physical and mental immaturity, tend to display hand-to-mouth behavior and coupled with their innate curiosity, are compelled to put objects in their mouth and are thus exposed to hazardous substances. Children, therefore, need adult supervision especially when they are engaged in activities that will expose them to unnecessary hazards, such as choking from removable parts or ingestion of glue or paint.

“We appeal to parents be cautious when buying school supplies for their children; read carefully the labels to know if it is appropriate for your children and registered with our FDA for safety, and immediately consult a doctor in cases of accidental ingestion or any adverse health effects while using school supplies,” the health chief said.