The lives of schoolchildren and their health are at great risk owing to substandard stationery material and food carriers they use, which are being imported for cheaper rates defying prescribed standards, a medical specialist attached to the Lady Ridgeway Hospital said.

LRH Head of Quality Control Unit Dr. Mahinda Wickramarachchi said the local markets are flooded with cheap and substandard school stationery and plastic ware, which are being popularly used by schoolchildren and kindergarten children.

Dr. Wickramarachchi addressing a press briefing over the weekend said the LRH following numerous complaints from parents of the quality of these items found out through a recent study that these materials pose a great risk to children’s lives as most of them contain heavy metals.

The imported items that fall into these categories are especially pencils, coloring pencils, etc. and a variety of plastic water bottles kids’ food carriers and lunch boxes.

“There are health standards for all these items especially an international standard called EN71-3 for children’s stationery and toys. These stationery and toys should be painted with colors that should not include any heavy metals.

We know when little children use these pencils they tend to put them in the mouth or bite the end, which inevitably results in hazardous chemicals or heavy metals entering their biological system,” the specialist said.

Dr. Wickramarachchi also said there is a safety code for plastic ware especially used to contain food or consumable liquids. The plastic ware is internationally standardized from 01, 02, 03, 04 and 05. The standard 05 is the one for food or water carriers and the parents should be mindful when buying their children’s water bottles to check for this figure under the container.

“The plastic ware contains a very hazardous chemical called Bisphenol A (BPA), that could even cause cancerous cells in children over time. Therefore, the parents should be concerned about these health facts, when buying stationery items for their children’s next school season,” the doctor said.

-daily mirror