FEATURE: BAN Toxics warns the public on buying 'Xmas lights

As malls and stores start to decorate for early holiday shopping, toxic watchdog group BAN Toxics conducted market monitoring of Christmas lights sold in the market and determined its quality and safety for consumers.


During the weekend, the group purchased 5 different holiday lights, sold for 100 PHP each box in different stores in Pasay City, Pasig City, and Taguig City. Using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) Chemical Analyzer, the group screened the holiday lights for lead, cadmium, and other toxic chemicals.


The results showed that all the five samples had lead content ranging from 25,500 part per million (ppm) to 224,000 ppm, way above the 1,000 parts per million (ppm) limit for lead. The lights also had cadmium ranging from 265 ppm to 506 ppm which is above the 100 ppm limit for cadmium under the European Union (EU) Directive on Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS).


In 2021, the Department of Trade and Industry-Bureau of Philippine Standards (DTI-BPS) released a list of DTI-certified Christmas lights brands to serve as guide. The agency also reminded the consumers to only buy Christmas lights that bear the Philippine Standard (PS) mark or the Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) sticker to assure product safety and quality.


According to DTI-BPS, Christmas lights is one of the 87 products currently under the DTI-BPS list of products under mandatory certification (complete list at www.bps.dti.gov.ph). Under the DTI-BPS certification schemes, manufacturers and importers of mandatory products are required to secure the Philippine Standard (PS) Quality and/or Safety Certification Mark License or the Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) certificate, respectively, prior to selling or distribution of their products in the country. Moreover, mandatory products are not allowed to be distributed in the Philippine market without the necessary PS or ICC marks.


“BAN Toxics calls the attention of the DTI-BPS to conduct on-site inspection and monitoring of Christmas lights sold in the market for safety standards and RoHS compliance,” said Thony Dizon, Toxics Campaigner of BAN Toxics.


“We further call the agency to post publicly the list of DTI-certified Christmas lights brands with ICC sticker and PS mark to guide the consumers,” he added.


To guide the public. BAN Toxics reiterated the DTI-BPS’ additional safety reminders for the consumers:


1. For those who will be reusing Christmas lights from last year, carefully inspect the plug and cord of the lighting set for brittle and dented parts. The insulation material made of PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) plastic deteriorates over time.


2. Properly dispose of old and damaged Christmas lights.


3. If the Christmas lights have burnt out bulbs, replace the burnt bulbs before using.


4. Plugging in more than three (3) connected sets of Christmas lights into one electric outlet is not advisable.


5. Do not overload electrical outlets. Too many plugs in one outlet may overheat the outlet and can cause a fire.


6. Do not leave Christmas lights turned on overnight.


7. Do not use nails, thumb tacks, and wire staples when hanging Christmas lights as these may damage its parts and create fire hazards. Use light hangers instead which are available in hardware and home stores.


8. Read the instructions on the packaging and/or the manuals of Christmas lights provided by the manufacturer carefully.

Resources: https://rohsguide.com/; https://www.dti.gov.ph/archives/news-archives/dti-bps-list-of-certified-christmas-lights/