DTI 11: “Buy non-toxic school supplies”

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/26 May) — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) urged consumers to make sure they buy only non-toxic school materials including pencils, pens and crayons, which children often place in their mouths.

Although all school supplies should pass the DTI requirements before they can be sold, it cannot assure the safety of smuggled goods, Alvin Aranas, DTI 11 senior trade and industry development specialist, said Monday in Kapehan sa SM City Davao.

“We cannot compromise the safety of our children just to save money,” he said, adding it is much better for consumers to buy popular brands.

Consumers are supposed to check the product labels before purchasing, he said.

For one, the label of crayons should include the brand name or trademark, address of manufacturer or distributor, country of origin, and the word “non-toxic” which means it passed the toxicity level allowed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Under certain temperature, crayons should not easily bend, Aranas said.

He cited that for a pencil to pass the standard specifications, the graphite must not break easily when used under normal writing pressure or sharpened. Its hardness symbol number (1, 2, or 3) should also be indicated.

Ball pens should perform smoothly even when stored for at least three months, he added.

There are 37 Philippine National Standards on product specifications for school and office supplies.

These standards specify the “appropriate physical and chemical properties, performance rating and labeling of products that should be patterned by manufacturers to make sure of the safety and reliability of their products.”

The FDA ensures that school supplies in the market are free from hazardous substances, while the DTI monitors their retail prices.

Based on the DTI’s suggested retail prices nationwide, the average prices of six famous brands of crayons are P12 for eight pieces, P22.62 for 16 pieces and P34.38 for 24 pieces.

Aranas told consumers to avoid buying products with labels that are only in foreign languages to ensure the safety of their children. (Lorie Ann Cascaro/MindaNews)