16 September 2014

Over 100 Public Interest Groups Back Miriam’s Move to Prevent Hazardous Waste Dumping from Overseas

Quezon City. Over 100 public interest groups across the country have thrown their support behind a well-timed proposal by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago for legislative action against waste dumping from overseas.

Senator Santiago yesterday filed resolution number 919 calling for an inquiry in aid of legislation “to decisively prevent illegal waste dumping from abroad” amid the long drawn-out problem with the 50 container vans of hazardous waste shipment from Canada that are still sitting in Manila’s port and leaking garbage juice.

Senator Santiago cited “the ratification of the ‘Basel Convention Ban Amendment’ and other legal measures to protect the country from becoming a global dump for hazardous wastes.”

The “Ban Amendment” to the “Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes,” introduced in 1995, prohibits highly industrialized countries from exporting hazardous wastes to developing countries “for final disposal, reuse, recycling and recovery.” The “Basel Convention Ban Amendment” has yet to enter into force.

The proposal from the feisty senator drew instant cheers from a broad array of academic, environmental, legal, religious and diverse people’s organizations from Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and the National Capital Region.  

“Unless the Philippine government ratifies the Basel Ban amendment and reflects its intent in our national laws, the country will continue to be a recipient of hazardous garbage from overseas, made possible under the guise of recycling or recovery,
said Von Hernandez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition and Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

“As we have seen with the Canadian waste shipments, unscrupulous waste traders are exploiting that recycling loophole to accomplish and justify this reprehensible practice. We are already struggling to manage the wastes being generated within our shores. Why should we allow other nations to treat the Philippines as their dumpsite?,” he added.

“With Miriam at the helm of the Committee on Foreign Relations, we expect the Senate to grant its concurrence to the Basel Ban Amendment without delay.  Protecting our nation from the real threat of hazardous waste dumping is a patriotic duty that should unite all the senators.  The early ratification would surely boost the Senate’s sagging public approval ratings,” said Sonia Mendoza, Chairman, Mother Earth Foundation.

Among the leading environmental advocacy networks backing Senator Santiago’s proposal for decisive measures to put a stop to hazardous waste dumping were Aksyon Klima, Cavite Green Coalition, EcoWaste Coalition, Green Convergence and the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance.

Lawyers Harry Roque of the UP Center for International Law and the UP Institute of International Legal Studies, Marlon Manuel of the Alternative Law Groups and Gloria Estenzo-Ramos of Oceana Philippines also support Senator Santiago’s action to resolutely end hazardous waste dumping.

Groups backing Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago’s call for “inquiry, in aid of legislation, on ways to decisively prevent illegal waste dumping from abroad, including the ratification of the ‘Basel Convention Ban Amendment’ and other legal measures to protect the country from becoming a global dump for hazardous wastes.” 


Akbayan Youth
Advocates for Environmental and Social Justice
Aksyon Klima
Alliance of Ex-Seminarians
Angkan ng Mandirigma
Associates of St. Catherine of Siena
Bangon Kalikasan Movement
Ban Toxics
Batangas 2 Fisherman Association
Buklod Kabataan
Buklod Tao
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino - NCRR
Cavite Green Coalition
Citizens' Organzation Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability
Consumer Rights for Safe Food
Cycle for Life
Cycling Advocates
Diocese of Kalookan Ministry of Ecology
Earth Island Institute
Ecolodians of Saint Louis University
Ecological Society of the Philippines
Episcopal Commission on Indigenous People
Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance -Philippines
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
Green Convergence
Greenpeace - Southeast Asia
HANE Health Advocates, Nueva Ecija
Health Care Without Harm - Southeast Asia
Health Futures Foundation
Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives
Krusada sa Kalikasan
La Sallian Community Development Center
Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center
Lingkod Tao-Kalikasan
Malikhaing Landas na Magpapayabong sa Sining at Kultura
Ministri ng Pamamahala sa Kalikasan - Our Lady of Pillar Parish
Ministri ng Pamamahalasa Kalikasan - San Jose Manggagawa
Miriam Public Education and Awareness Campaign for the Environment
Mother Earth Foundation
Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Maguyam
Nagkakaisang Mananambakan sa Dumpsite Area
November 17 Movement
Nueva Ecija Women Leaders Coalition
Obando Kami ay Para sa Iyo
Oceana Philippines
Outreach Philippines, Inc.
PAKISAMA National Confederation of Small Farmers and Fishers Organizations
Partido Kalikasan
Partnership for Clean Air
Pesticide Action Network - Philippines
Philippine Animal Welfare Society
Philippine Pollution Monitor
Philippines for Natural Farming, Inc.
Prelature of Infanta-Community Organization of the Philippines, Inc.
Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society, Inc.
Sagip Pasig Movement
Samahang Muling Pagkabuhay Cooperative
Samahang Pagkakaisa ng mgaTindera saTalipapa
Samahan ng Kababaihan ng Batangas 2
Samahan ng Kababaihan tungo sa Kaunlaran, Cavite
Sanib-Lakas ng Inang Kalikasan
SARILAYA, Nueva Ecija
Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance, Inc.
Save Waters of Indang Movement, Inc.
Shoreline Kabalikat sa Kaunlaran
Sining Yapak
Stewards of God’s Creation
Think Green Initiative
Upholding Life and Nature
UP Center for International Law
UP Institute of International Legal Studies
Zero Waste Philippines
Zero Waste Recycling Movement of the Philippines
Youth for Environment and Social Justice
Atty. Marlon Manuel (National Coordinator, Alternative Law Groups)
Students of Earth Science Class, Adventist University of the Philippines
4K Foundation


Action for Nurturing Children and the Environment
Freedom from Debt Coalition - Cebu
Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod - Cebu
Lihok Filipina - Cebu
Ligdung Sumbanan Alang sa Kabataan sa Sugbo
Office of Councilor Nida Cabrera, Cebu City
Philippine Earth Justice Center
Teachers’ Dignity Coalition - Cebu


Amavel Foundation
Balingaeng Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association
Biao Joaquin Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative
Biao Joaquin Farmers Reform Beneficiaries Association
Cacao Nurturing Network
Davao Oriental Coconut & Cacao Industry Development Coalition
Go Organic  Davao City
Go Organic Mindanao
Inayangan Farmers Association
Interface Development Interventions Inc.,
Kinaiyahan Foundation
Mamamayan  Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying
Mt. Tipulog Bantay Kinaiyahan Association Inc.,
Panaghugpong sa mga Samohanteug Kabussa Kabanikanhan Alang sa Kausaban
Polocon People's Multi-Purpose Cooperative
Saloy Farmers Multi-Purpose Cooperative

13 September 2014

Seven Mercury-Laden Skin Whitening Cosmetics Discovered by the EcoWaste Coalition Banned by the FDA



The EcoWaste Coalition, a health and environmental  watchdog, welcomed the latest public health warning from the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) banning seven brands of imported skin whitening creams laden with toxic mercury.

“These smuggled skin lightening creams contain mercury that can be directly absorbed by the skin and lead to serious side effects. Mercury is very bad for your health as it can cause dermal, neurological, psychiatric and renal problems,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The use of such creams by pregnant women, lactating mothers and caregivers is a special concern since fetuses, babies and children are extremely sensitive to mercury exposure even at low doses.  Pregnant women, for example, can pass the mercury to babies in the womb,” she emphasized.

The seven mercury-tainted cosmetics were obtained by the group from unauthorized cosmetics retailers in Cebu, Manila, Pasay and Paranaque Cities and submitted to the FDA last month for confirmatory analysis and recall action.

As per the FDA Advisory, the importation, distribution and of the following products is illegal:

1. BG Ginseng & Ganoderma Lucidum 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Sun Block Cream
2. BG Sea Pearl & Papaya Natural Essence 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Sun Block Cream
3. Feique Herbal Extract Chinese Formula Whitening Anti-Freckle Set
4. Golden Pearl Beauty Cream
5. Jiaoli Huichusu Intensive Whitening, Sunscreen and Spots Removing Set
6. Jiaoli Herbs Essence Whitening AB Set
7. Mifton

EcoWaste Coalition appealed to dealers of the banned items to  desist from selling them and to contact the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for advice on environmentally-sound disposal of the remaining stocks.

EcoWaste Coalition also urged users of the proscribed products to immediately stop using them and to consult healthcare professionals for information on health effects and possible interventions.

Finally, EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to cautiously read product labels, shun products with incomplete and incomprehensible information and choose FDA-registered cosmetics.

The group further reminded consumers to ask for official receipts from dealers, which could come handy in filing consumer complaints.

Symptoms of mercury exposure may include dermatitis, difficulty in concentration, impaired eyesight and hearing, insomnia, irritability, memory loss,  tremors in the arms and legs and kidney failure in the most severe cases.

According to the World Health Organization, mercury in skin lightening products can cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal



11 September 2014

Toxics Watchdog Screens Kiddie Sunglasses for Lead Content

Following the massive recall last week of kids’ sunglasses in US due to high lead paint levels, the EcoWaste Coalition conducted a quick sampling of parallel products sold locally.

“We find it important to screen kiddie sunglasses, even if in limited number, to ensure that our young consumers are duly warned and protected against potential lead exposure, and that the recalled products do not reach our ports and store shelves,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.   

On September 4, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall of some 215,000 pairs of sunglasses because the “surface paint on the sunglasses contains excessive levels of lead, which is prohibited under federal law.”

As per CPSC Recall Number 14-268, the recalled kids’ sunglasses were imported from China by FGX International Inc. and sold in various retail stores in US from December 2013 to March 2014.

“This recall
includes 20 styles of Disney, Marvel and Sears/Kmart brand children’s sunglasses. They come in a variety of colors and with printed images of characters on the frames,” the CPSC said.

Based on the limited sampling done by the EcoWaste Coalition, 14 of the 15 samples of Disney, DC Comics, Just Kidz and Kids children’s sunglasses that the group screened for lead using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device had no detectable lead levels.

The samples were procured
for P23 to P199.75 each 
from Robinsons Department Store (Ermita, Manila), SM Department Store (North EDSA and Cubao, Quezon City), Puregold Supermarket (Makati City) and from bargain stalls at Farmers Plaza (Cubao, Quezon City.

However, one pair of branded kiddie sunglasses with red-coated metal frame registered with extremely high lead level of 25,200 parts per million (ppm).  The EcoWaste Coalition will notify and request the product distributor to initiate immediate voluntary recall action.

Under the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, “children's products that are designed or intended primarily for use by children 12 years of age or younger cannot contain greater than 100 ppm (0.01 percent) of total lead content in any accessible component part of the children's product.”

Lead, a cumulative toxicant affecting the brain and the central nervous system and other body systems, is hazardous, especially for young children who often put things in their mouths resulting to the direct ingestion of lead-containing particles.  

According to a fact sheet published by the World Health Organization (WHO), “
childhood lead exposure is estimated to contribute to about 600 000 new cases of children developing intellectual disabilities every year.”

“There is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe, and that lead poisoning is entirely preventable,” the WHO said.