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Schools are supposed to be a safe place particularly for the young ones. Part of keeping the students safe is ensuring that they only use school supplies that are free from harmful amounts of chemicals and are proven safe.

Although there are regulations regarding the use of substances deemed to be toxic, some school supplies containing more than the maximum amount of legally permitted chemicals still end up being sold in the market.

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Here is a guide on the chemicals to watch out for when buying school supplies. High amounts of these chemicals are linked to health risks particularly among children.

  • Asbestos
    A number of brands of crayons have been found to be laced with asbestos, a known carcinogen that is banned when used in certain products in some countries. Other nations including Australia, Japan, Netherlands, South Korea, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom have completely banned the use of asbestos.
  • Lead
    Lead is a hazardous substance linked to cancer as well as learning and behavioural problems. According to the World Health Organization, lead exposure contributes to about 600,000 new cases of intellectual disabilities each year among children. In the Philippines, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources prohibits the use of lead and lead compounds in the production/manufacturing of school supplies, packaging for food and drink, and toys.
  • Phthalates
    Phthalates are chemical compounds, commonly used in plastics such as PVC. Some school supplies, including erasers, have been found to contain phthalates. When used normally, these school supplies do not impose health risks, however, in the case of erasers, health risks could exist when children frequently suck and chew on them. Ingesting pieces of erasers may expose a child to harmful levels of DEHP, a type of substance found in phthalates, and is a suspected human carcinogen. Among the critical toxic effects of phthalates in the human body are related to reproduction and development.

Check safety labels.

Be vigilant about product safety. Look for markings that certify the safety of a product. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Philippines advises consumers to buy products that are registered with the FDA or are supplied or distributed by FDA-licensed establishments. Use school supplies from brands that are known to comply with safety regulations and have been tested for safety.

Questions on product safety tests?

Please contact:
Jocelyn S. Babaan
Consumer and Retail Division Manager
SGS Philippines, Inc.
T: +63 2 784 9400 local 601


SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 85,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,800 offices and laboratories around the world.