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As part of its campaign towards a zero waste and toxics-free observance of the yuletide season, the EcoWaste Coalition has sounded the alarm over the sale of uncertified Christmas lights in the market.

To support the ongoing drive led by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) against unauthorized Christmas lights, the EcoWaste Coalition on November 18 and 19 conducted test buys in Binondo, Manila City and Libertad, Pasay City.

The DTI has repeatedly reminded consumers to check for the Philippine Standard (PS) mark or Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) sticker before purchasing Christmas lights as uncertified ones may not meet quality and safety standards and pose electric shock and fire hazard.

Out of the 15 Christmas lights purchased for P100 to P250 per set, 10 products lacked the required PS mark or ICC sticker.  Two of these 10 uncertified products were also unlabelled.

The absence of PS mark or ICC sticker on the label indicates that the product has not undergone the required certification process of the Bureau of Philippine Standards (PBS), noting the Christmas lights are among the products covered by the government’s mandatory certification scheme.

Among the 10 products sold without PS mark or ICC sticker are Crown Star Decorative Lights, GTP Great Power Solar String Light, Joy Origin LED Solar Energy , LED Solar Light, Multi Function LED Lights, Solar Powered String Lights , NuoDalk LED Solar String Light, Wish Star Solar String Lights, and two unlabeled products.

Using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer,  the EcoWaste Coalition also detected lead, a toxic chemical, in eight out of the 15 products purchased.  Lead poses a risk to the environment, and to human health.

The green cables of the nine products were found to contain lead in the range of 3,220 to 8,440 parts per million (ppm), which are above the 1,000 ppm limit under the European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) in all electrical and electronic products. 

The products with the highest lead content are Wish Star Solar String Lights (8,440 ppm), Joy Origin LED Solar Energy (7,800 ppm), Solar Powered String Lights (7,160 ppm), NuoDalke LED Solar String Light (6,007 ppm), and Multi Function LED Lights (5,170 ppm).

RoHS specifies levels for the following restricted substances  in electrical and electronic products such as heavy metals cadmium, hexavalent chromium, lead  and mercury, flame retardant chemicals polybrominated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and phthalates DEHP, BBP, DBP and DIBP.

“The restricted materials are hazardous to the environment and pollute landfills, and are dangerous in terms of occupational exposure during manufacturing and recycling,” the RoHS warned.

The EcoWaste Coalition urged DTI offices all over the country to step up their monitoring of uncertified Christmas lights sold in physical stores and in online shopping platforms to protect human health and the environment. 

The group likewise reminded consumers to exercise their basic rights to product information and to be protected against defective, unsafe, and hazardous products that may cause injury, illness or damage to property. 

"Choose Christmas lights with a valid PS mark or ICC sticker for the safety of your family this festive season," the EcoWaste Coalition said.  "It's better to be safe than sorry later."

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