19 March 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Calls Out Health Authorities for Long-Overdue Ban on Bisphenol A in Baby Feeding Ware (Draft DOH Administrative Order Banning Bisphenol A in Baby Feeding Bottles and Sippy Cups Pending Since 2013)




A waste and pollution watch group urged the country’s health authorities to promulgate a long-overdue policy that should have protected babies from Bisphenol A, an industrial chemical used in hard plastic, which is linked to endocrine and reproductive disorders.

Through a letter delivered last week to the offices of Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Nela Charade Puno, the EcoWaste Coalition stated that “BPA, an endocrine disrupting and reprotoxic chemical, should not be present in children’s products, especially in food contact materials such as feeding bottles and sippy cups.”

The group noted that a draft DOH Administrative Order entitled the “Prohibition on the Manufacture, Importation, Advertisement and Sale of Polycarbonate Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups Containing Bisphenol A in the Philippines” has been pending since 2013.

“The over-extended delay in promulgating the government’s policy on BPA in feeding bottles and sippy cups is very difficult to justify, especially when the products in question are typically used by a large sector of the society --- the children --- who are most vulnerable to the adverse health impacts of chemical exposures.  We  cannot delay action when it comes to children's safety from chemicals of concern,” wrote Eileen Sison, President, EcoWaste Coalition. 

According to the World Health Organization, “children are not little adults, they have special vulnerabilities to the toxic effects of chemicals.  (Their) exposure to chemicals at critical stages in their physical and cognitive development may have severe long-term consequences for health.”

“DOH Secretaries Enrique Ona, Janette Loreto-Garin and Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial have come and gone, but the directive banning BPA in feeding bottles and sippy cups remains on the back burner since 2013,” wrote Sison.

“Under your watch, we hope the much-awaited regulation will see the light of day in the weeks to come,” Sison told Duque. 

At the first DOH-organized stakeholders’ consultation held in 2013, the EcoWaste Coalition and Arugaan (a breastfeeding advocacy group) pushed for a precautionary ban on BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups citing the regulatory moves in other countries to address growing consumers’ health and safety concerns against BPA

During the deliberations, the groups pushed for consumer right to information via uniform, visible and truthful product labels that will indicate if a product is BPA-free or not.  They also expressed support for the inclusion of a provision that will disallow the substitution of BPA with alternatives that can also lead to adverse health effects.

The EcoWaste Coalition has been constantly pursuing the matter with the DOH and lately with the FDA via follow-up letters, including two petitions signed by over 70 concerned civil society organizations.

The plan of the South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety to ban BPA in food contact materials intended for infants and young children prompted the EcoWaste Coalition to write anew to the DOH and FDA on February 11, 2019 to check on the government’s response to the group’s appeal to prohibit BPA in baby feeding bottles and sippy cups.

To date, over 35 countries have already banned BPA, particularly in baby feeding bottles, including Brazil, Canada, China, India, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Africa, Thailand, USA and the 28-country European Union, with France banning BPA in all food contact materials in 2015.  China, the country’s largest trading partner, banned BPA in baby feeding bottles as early as June 2011.

In January 2017, the European Chemical Agency added BPA to the candidate list of substances of very high concern (SVHCs) for authorization because it is “toxic for reproduction.”  BPA’s inclusion to the said list was updated in January 2018 due to its “endocrine disrupting properties.”


-end-

Reference:

https://www.tuv.com/jp/japan/about_us_jp/regulations_and_standard_updates_jp/latest_regulations_2/latest_regulations_content_404032.html

https://www.sgs.com/en/news/2018/10/bpa-bans-and-restrictions-in-food-contact-materials

https://www.who.int/ipcs/highlights/children_chemicals/en/

https://echa.europa.eu/-/seven-new-substances-added-to-the-candidate-list-entry-for-bisphenol-a-updated-to-reflect-its-endocrine-disrupting-properties-for-the-environment

https://echa.europa.eu/-/four-new-substances-of-very-high-concern-added-to-the-candidate-list

17 March 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Exposes Rampant Sale of Mercury-Contaminated Skin Care Products from Pakistan banned by FDA


Four of five “made in Pakistan” skin whitening cosmetics banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for containing dangerous levels of mercury are openly sold over the counter at shopping mall stores in Pasay City.

The EcoWaste Coalition bared the illegal trade after purchasing yesterday, March 16, banned  Pakistani mercury-laden facial creams from cosmetic retailers at Baclaran Terminal Plaza Mall and Baclaran Bagong Milenyo Plaza for P225 to P300 each. 

“We are dismayed by the nonstop and remorseless trade of unregistered skin lightening products from Pakistan containing extremely high levels of mercury way above the permissible limit of 1 part per million (ppm),” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Mercury, a highly toxic substance, is not permitted for use as an ingredient in cosmetic products such as skin whitening creams, lotions and soaps as per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.  To protect human health and the environment, governments through the Minamata Convention on Mercury have targeted a global phase-out of skin whitening cosmetics with mercury above 1 ppm by 2020,” he said.

Among the items bought by the group and subsequently screened for mercury using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device were Parley Herbal Whitening Cream with 32,200 parts per million (ppm) of mercury; Goree Beauty Cream with 21,700 ppm; Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream with 17,800 ppm, and Golden Pearl Beauty Cream with 10,000 ppm of mercury.

The FDA issued an advisory last March 5, 2019 banning two variants of Parley for containing mercury beyond the 1 ppm limit.  Similar advisories were also issued against two types of Goree on October 30, 2017.  Golden Pearl was among the mercury-tainted products banned by the FDA through an advisory released on September 8, 2014.

According to the latest FDA advisory: “Adverse health effects brought about by highly toxic mercury in cosmetic products include kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring. Chronic use reduces the skin’s normal resistance to against bacterial and fungal infections.  Other effects include anxiety, depression or psychosis and peripheral neuropathy.”

“The transfer of mercury to fetuses of pregnant women may manifest as neurodevelopment deficits later in life,” the FDA warned.

To put a stop to the illicit trade of mercury-contaminated skin lightening products from Pakistan and elsewhere, the EcoWaste Coalition called upon the FDA to conduct sustained law enforcement efforts, including on-the-spot confiscation of banned products and preventive closure of erring business establishments.

As mercury-containing products should not be simply landfilled or incinerated, the group also urged the FDA to coordinate with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to ensure the environmentally-sound management of confiscated goods. 

The EcoWaste Coalition likewise pressed the FDA to keep an eye on cosmetics from Pakistan that are being sold in the Philippines without proper notification or registration.

Aside from Parley, which the FDA banned recently, the group on March 26, 2018 notified the FDA about the sale of other Pakistan-made skin whitening creams laden with mercury such as Aneeza Gold Beauty Cream, Aneeza Saffron Whitening Cream, and Face Lift Whitening Beauty Cream.

Pakistan, like the Philippines, is grappling with the issue of mercury-contaminated skin care products in the market, the EcoWaste Coalition said.  

The group cited the report "Mercury Poisoning Associated with International and Local Skin Whitening Creams in Pakistan" published in November 2018, which shows that 56 of the 59 samples analyzed for total mercury content had mercury above the allowable limit of 1 ppm, of which 28 percent had mercury greater than 10,000 ppm.

The study results prompted State Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul to announce at a workshop held in Islamabad on February 14, 2019 that “the ministry will take up this matter and issue notices to the companies for producing such harmful beauty creams and items explicitly posing serious health complications and even cancer.”

The anticipated action by the Pakistani government against mercury-laden skin whitening cosmetics, the EcoWaste Coalition said, should help in curbing the proliferation of such products in the Philippines.



-end-

Reference:

FDA Advisory vs Parley:
https://ww2.fda.gov.ph/attachments/article/554454/FDA%20Advisory%20No.%202019-074.pdf
FDA Advisory vs Goree:
https://ww2.fda.gov.ph/index.php/advisories-2/cosmetic-2/472052-fda-advisory-no-2017-289
FDA Advisory vs Golden Pearl:
https://ww2.fda.gov.ph/index.php/advisories-2/cosmetic-2/195942-fda-advisory-no-2013-053-a
Report: "Mercury Poisoning Associated with International and Local Skin Whitening Creams in Pakistan"
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/329012535_Pakistan_MIAMercury_Added_Products_Mercury_Poisoning_Associated_with_International_and_Local_Skin_Whitening_Creams_in_Pakistan
Source of the quote from State Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul:
https://www.app.com.pk/56-out-of-59-cosmetics-samples-included-hazardous-mercury-ratios-zartaj-gul/

15 March 2019

EcoWaste Coalition to Water Regulators and Water Companies: “Water is a consumer and human right”


https://www.right2water.eu/

As millions of Manila Water customers continue to suffer from water scarcity, a waste and pollution watch group appealed to water resource regulators as well as to water companies to ensure public access to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water supply.

In a press statement coinciding with today’s observance of World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD), the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized the role of public authorities and private corporations as duty bearers in guaranteeing people’s access to water

“As duty bearers, we urge water agencies and companies to do everything that is necessary to alleviate the sufferings of those affected by the water shortage.  We join our citizens, as right holders, in reminding those responsible for realizing our human right to water to find a long-lasting solution to our water woes,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

In reference to the P18.7 billion Kaliwa Dam project in the Sierra Madre to be funded by China, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated that any solution to the water scarcity being faced by water consumers in the East Zone of Metro Manila should not disrespect the rights of other right holders, particularly the indigenous peoples (IPs).

“We are one with the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance and the IP communities in seeking the genuine restoration of watersheds and forests and in opposing all destructive development projects, especially the construction of new mega-dams, within the Sierra Madre,” Dizon added.

Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia, Spokesperson of the Commission on Human Rights, yesterday said that:   “In finding a resolution to this problem, we hope that ways forward would always be mindful of the rights of others, such as those of IP communities in developing dams, and would always to the benefit of the majority of Filipinos.”

In asserting the people’s right to water, the EcoWaste Coalition cited Resolution 64/292 adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2010 explicitly recognizing the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledging that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realization of all human rights.

The group also cited the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted at the 2015 UN Summit, which includes Goal No. 6 that seeks to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”

Water, which is a basic entitlement of all people, should be, according to the United Nations:

Sufficient: The water supply for each person must be sufficient and continuous for personal and domestic uses. These uses ordinarily include drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes, food preparation, personal and household hygiene.”

Safe: The water required for each personal or domestic use must be safe, therefore free from micro-organisms, chemical substances and radiological hazards that constitute a threat to a person's health.”

Acceptable: Water should be of an acceptable color, odor and taste for each personal or domestic use, and all water facilities and services must be culturally appropriate and sensitive to gender, lifecycle and privacy requirements.”

Physically accessible: Everyone has the right to a water and sanitation service that is physically accessible within, or in the immediate vicinity of the household, educational institution, workplace or health institution.”

Affordable: Water, and water facilities and services, must be affordable for all.”

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Reference:

http://chr.gov.ph/statement-of-chr-spokesperson-atty-jacqueline-ann-de-guia-on-the-claimed-water-crisis/
http://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/human_right_to_water.shtml
https://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/generalassembly/docs/globalcompact/A_RES_70_1_E.pdf
https://savesierramadre.page.tl/SSMNA-h-s-Position-Paper-on-the-Construction-of-Mega_Dams-in-Sierra-Madre.htm


14 March 2019

Water Shortage Is Also Causing Increased Use of Disposables, More Garbage




The ongoing water service interruption affecting customers of Manila Water in Metro Manila and adjacent places may be increasing the demand for disposable products and packaging, and thus more garbage.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watch group, aired this concern as water supply in Manila Water-served areas remains difficult with the water concessionaire announcing six to 20 hours of daily service interruption until the start of the rainy season.

Due to the continuing water shortage affecting six million people in the East Zone of Metro Manila, some eateries have turned to disposable plates, spoons, forks and cups, mostly plastic-based, to avoid the use of water.  Some sellers even wrapped plates with thin film plastic bags to avoid washing them.

“The increased demand for disposable items during this time of water scarcity will surely add to the volume of residual garbage that generators from households to business establishments churn out every day,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“With taps running dry, we fear that more people and businesses will be encouraged to buy and use more single-use plastic disposables during the waterless period,” she added.

As the World Consumer Rights Day is observed tomorrow, March 15, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded Manila Water and the country’s water authorities that access to clean water, a basic need, is a fundamental consumer and human right.

“It’s sad that many Filipinos will mark the World Consumer Rights Day in long queues for water rationed by Manila Water,” Lucero said.

“The water shortage, we hope, will be resolved soon to satisfy the people’s right to water, a basic consumer and human right, and to discourage the wasteful use of plastic disposables,” she added.

The EcoWaste Coalition had earlier joined the chorus calling for water conservation amidst the water shortage.

The group urged households, as well as private and public establishments, to intensify water saving measures as the dry spell marches on.

“Let us all aim for zero water waste to reduce the impacts of low water supply during the summer months to the people, especially the poor, and the environment,” the group said.

To cut on water wastage, the EcoWaste  Coalition has suggested the following  water conservation tips:

1.  Fix dripping tanks, pipes, faucets, showerheads and hoses to prevent water loss.
2.  Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, lathering with soap or shaving.
3. Take shorter showers with a pail and dipper and use just enough water.
4.  Reuse towels a few times before putting them on the laundry basket.
5.  Collect grey water from bathing and washing and reuse it to wash the car, clean the garage, maintain sidewalks or flush the toilet.
6.  Place a brick or water-filled bottle inside the toilet tank to reduce water used in every flush and flush less.
7. Collect water dripping from air conditioners and use the collected water for washing mops and rugs, flushing the toilet or watering the plants.
8.  Leave grass clippings on the lawn as this cools the ground and holds in moisture.
9. Spread a layer of mulch around plants and trees to retain water and reduce evaporation.
10. Water the plants early in the morning or in the evening when temperature is cooler to minimize water loss.
11.  Refrain from using the washing machine if only washing a few clothes, do full loads of laundry, and use just the right amount of detergent to avoid extra rinsing.
12. Wash fruits and vegetables in a basin and not in running water; reuse the water for watering the plants.
13. Save the rice wash for washing the dishes or watering plants.
14. Steam vegetables instead of boiling to conserve water as well as preserve their nutrients.
15. Thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator overnight, not on running water.
16. Use fewer cooking and dining utensils and dishes to reduce water use for washing.
17.  Choose the proper pan and pot size for cooking as bigger ones may need more cooking water than required.
18. Do not let the water run when washing the dishes, fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water.
19.  Soak dirty pans and pots first instead of scraping them in running water.
20.  Collect and store rainwater for daily chores.

-end-

12 March 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Pitches for Water Conservation as Water Level in La Mesa Dam Continues to Drop



As the water level in La Mesa Dam plunged to its lowest level in 12 years amid the EL Niño phenomenon, an environmental watch group wasted no time in urging water consumers to conserve water all the more.

The EcoWaste Coalition sought the cooperation of Metro Manila’s households, estimated at 3.10 million, to take water conservation more seriously in the wake of the El Niño in the Pacific region.

The group also urged private and public establishments to intensify water conservation measures in light of the decreased fresh water supply as the dry spell marches on.

“We join our water authorities in asking households, businesses and government institutions in Metro Manila to use water more wisely amid the declining water level in Angat, Ipo and La Mesa Dams,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Let us all aim for zero water waste to reduce the impacts of low water supply during the summer months to the people, especially the poor, and the environment,” she said.

The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) had earlier appealed to the public to save water as water in the La Mesa reservoir dropped from its normal high water level of 80.15 meters to 69.47 meters, the lowest in 12 years.

To encourage all sectors to cut on water use and wastage, the EcoWaste  Coalition has released the following  water conservation tips:

1.  Fix dripping tanks, pipes, faucets, showerheads and hoses to prevent water loss.

2.  Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, lathering with soap or shaving.

3. Take shorter showers with a pail and dipper and use just enough water.

4.  Reuse towels a few times before putting them on the laundry basket.


5.  Collect grey water from bathing and washing and reuse it to wash the car, clean the garage, maintain sidewalks or flush the toilet.

6.  Place a brick or water-filled bottle inside the toilet tank to reduce water used in every flush and flush less.

7. Collect water dripping from air conditioners and use the collected water for washing mops and rugs, flushing the toilet or watering the plants.

8.  Leave grass clippings on the lawn as this cools the ground and holds in moisture.

9. Spread a layer of mulch around plants and trees to retain water and reduce evaporation.

10. Water the plants early in the morning or in the evening when temperature is cooler to minimize water loss.
11.  Refrain from using the washing machine if only washing a few clothes, do full loads of laundry, and use just the right amount of detergent to avoid extra rinsing.

12. Wash fruits and vegetables in a basin and not in running water; reuse the water for watering the plants.

13. Save the rice wash for washing the dishes or watering plants.

14. Steam vegetables instead of boiling to conserve water as well as preserve their nutrients.

15. Thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator overnight, not on running water.

16. Use fewer cooking and dining utensils and dishes to reduce water use for washing.

17.  Choose the proper pan and pot size for cooking as bigger ones may need more cooking water than required.

18. Do not let the water run when washing the dishes, fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water.

19.  Soak dirty pans and pots first instead of scraping them in running water.

20.  Collect and store rainwater for daily chores.

-end-

Reference:

Number of households in Metro Manila: