24 May 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Cautions Consumers vs Lead-Containing School Supplies

A persistent advocate for children’s safety from toxic substances has warned that some school supplies being sold in the market contain undisclosed quantities of lead, a chemical that is known to affect intelligence and behavior.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit watch group on toxic chemicals, products and wastes, aired the warning as the sale of school supplies soars with the nearing resumption of classes on June 5.

To generate data for its public outreach efforts, the group conducted yet another test buy targeting affordable school supplies sold in discount stores located in Baclaran, Divisoria, Guadalupe and Monumento, where budget-conscious parents go to for their children’s school needs.

“We conducted this year’s test buy against the backdrop of an intensified campaign to promote business and industry compliance to the country’s lead and lead paint laws,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Dizon cited the DENR Administrative Order 2013-24 or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, which prohibits the use of lead in the production of school supplies, as well as the DepEd Department Order 4, Series of 2017, which requires the mandatory use of lead-safe paints in all preparatory, elementary and secondary schools.

“Eliminating all sources of childhood exposure to lead in children’s environment is necessary to protect their developing brains and to help them realize their full potentials,” he said.

For its latest test buy, the EcoWaste Coalition purchased affordable backpacks, lunch bags, water containers, and assorted stationery items, which were subsequently screened for lead and other toxic metals using a  portable X-Ray Fluorescence device.

Out of the 55 items bought and screened, 21, mostly school bags, were found to contain varying concentrations of lead.  The rest were found to contain no detectable of lead.

Joining this year’s “dirty dozen” list of lead-laden school supplies were:

1.   An orange stainless steel vacuum flask with 40,500 ppm.

2.   A yellow thumb tack with 31,800 ppm

3.   A yellow “Tigger & Pooh” water container, 21,900 ppm

4.   A blue backpack with stop light design, 11,000 ppm

5.   A green backpack with ladybug design, 8,619 ppm

6.   A small blue bag with “Ben 10” design, 4,094 ppm

7.   A pink “Weinite” backpack with alphabet design, 3,754 ppm

8.   A green and yellow ”Kakuchuanqi” bag, 2,076 ppm

9.   A stationery bag with yellow zipper, 2,034 ppm

10. A green backpack with star design, 1,998 ppm

11. A small blue bag with “Naruto” design, 1,282 ppm

12. A big yellow backpack with “Despicable Me” design, 1,120 ppm

In addition, the EcoWaste Coalition had earlier disclosed high levels of lead in eight out of 20 painted school gardening tools such as hand forks, rakes and shovels with total lead content ranging from 816 to 20,400 ppm.

To prevent children’s exposure to lead and other harmful chemicals, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to:  demand complete product information, including information about a product’s chemical composition; refrain from buying school supplies made out of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic that may contain toxic additives like cadmium, lead and  phthalates; and avoid products with painted parts or metal accessories unless certified “lead-free” or “non-toxic.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “at high levels of acute exposure, lead attacks the brain and central nervous system to cause coma, convulsions and even death.” 

“At lower levels of exposure that cause no obvious symptoms and that previously were considered safe, lead is now known to produce a spectrum of injury that causes loss of cognition, shortening of attention span, alteration of behavior, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs,” the WHO said.

WHO has listed lead among the “ten chemicals of major public health concern,” stating that “lead exposure is estimated to account for 0.6% of the global burden of disease, with the highest burden in developing regions.”






22 May 2017

Watch Group Finds School Gardening Tools Laden with Toxic Lead

Gardening tools coated with  lead-containing paints (above) and those without (bottom).

An advocate for the prevention of childhood lead exposure alerted school authorities against the use of gardening tools that are coated with lead-containing paints.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit environmental and health group, aired the warning following the detection of high concentrations of lead, a potent neurotoxin, in eight of 20 samples of gardening tools.

The tools, which are commonly used in home, community and school gardening activities, were purchased for P20 to P65 each from general merchandise stores, hardware centers and sidewalk vendors in Monumento, Caloocan City, Divisoria, Manila City, and in Makati City and Pasay City. 

The EcoWaste Coalition analyzed the gardening tools, including hand shovels, rakes, forks and cultivators, as part of its “Toxic-Free Back-to-School” drive.

“We found excessive lead paint levels on some of these gardening tools that are often used in school gardening activities,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Of the 20 gardening tools, eight were found to be decorated with paints containing dangerous concentrations of lead up to 20,400 parts per million (ppm), way above the 90 ppm total lead content limit under the DENR A.O. 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds.

“We are concerned that the lead coated gardening tools will deteriorate and rust with frequent use.  This will cause the paint to peel and for its lead content to contaminate the soil,” said Dizon.

“A child can be exposed to lead if the lead-contaminated soil gets into his hands and mouth while gardening or playing in the dirt,” he pointed out.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “young children are particularly vulnerable because they absorb 4–5 times as much ingested lead as adults from a given source.”

“Moreover, children’s innate curiosity and their age-appropriate hand-to-mouth behavior result in their mouthing and swallowing lead-containing or lead-coated objects, such as contaminated soil or dust and flakes from decaying lead-containing paint,” the WHO explained.

“Undernourished children are more susceptible to lead because their bodies absorb more lead if other nutrients, such as calcium, are lacking. Children at highest risk are the very young (including the developing fetus) and the impoverished,” the WHO.

“Lead affects children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioural changes such as reduced attention span and increased antisocial behavior, and reduced educational attainment,” the WHO empahsized.




EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 336, Eagle Court, 26 Matalino St., 1100 Quezon City, Philippines
Phone/Fax: 4411846  E-Mail: info@ecowastecoalition.org

Website: http://ecowastecoalition.blogspot.com

20 May 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Calls Attention to Choking Hazards from Fidget Spinners

A watch group promoting safe toys today cautioned parents and their kids against choking hazards posed by fidget spinners, the latest toy craze.

The EcoWaste Coalition aired the precautionary warning to prevent children from ingesting the small parts of the addictive fidget spinner toys that can cause choking.

“Fidget spinners are fun to play with.  But, their small parts, particularly the bearings and bushings, may not be tightly secured, can come off and get ingested by kids,” warned Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“To be on the safe side, we advise parents not let their kids play with toys with small parts, which, if swallowed, may obstruct the flow of air into the lungs and prevent breathing,” he said.

The group issued the toy choking hazard warning after Briton Joniec, a 10-year old girl from Houston, Texas, accidentally swallowed one of the bearings from her fidget spinner, which got lodged in her esophagus.

Her mother Kelly Rose shared the incident through a Facebook post to warn other parents about the choking hazards of the popular finger toy.

”Fidget spinners are the current craze so they are widely distributed. Kids of all ages may be getting them, but not all spinners come with age-appropriate warnings. The bushings pop out easily, so if you have young kids keep in mind that these present a potential choking hazard,” she said in her Facebook post.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “choking is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality among children, especially those aged 3 years or younger (with) food, coins, and toys (as) the primary causes of choking-related injury and death.”

To prevent choking incidents, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Philippines has repeatedly reminded consumers "not to give toys with small parts to children under the age of three years as children have a tendency to put toys in their mouths."

The EcoWaste Coalition warned that some fidget spinners, particularly those sold in Divisoria, may have not gone through the verification process of the FDA, the lead regulatory agency for toys and childcare articles (TCCAs). 

Fidget spinners that do not have valid TCCA product notifications would be illegal to sell, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Duly notified TCCAs will contain the following information on the label:

- LTO number issued by FDA;
- Age grade;
- Cautionary statements/ warnings;
- Instructional literature;
- Item/ Model/ SKU No. of the product; and
- Manufacturer’s marking wherein the complete name and address of the manufacturer or distributor are reflected.



To read the Facebook post of Kelly Rose Joniec, please see this link:
To read the “Public Health Warning Against the Use of Toys and Childcare Articles (TCCA) Products With No FDA Certificate of Product Notification,” please see:

19 May 2017

Zero Waste Group Says E.O. 26 to Cut Cigarette Butt Littering

An advocacy group promoting Zero Waste lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for signing Executive Order 26 as this will translate to cleaner air and litter-free environment.

The EcoWaste Coalition welcomed the E.O. "providing for the establishment of smoke-free environments in public and enclosed places" as this will protect the public health and environment.

“We laud President Duterte for signing the long-promised E.O. as this will protect the right of every Filipino to be protected against the hazards of second-hand and third-hand tobacco smoke,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We agree with the President that ‘public health takes precedence over any commercial or business interest’ as mentioned in the E.O. and ask everyone to rally behind its implementation,” she added.

While the E.O. provides for non-mandatory designated smoking areas (DSAs) with certain standards to follow, the EcoWaste Coalition urged persons-in-charge to go for 100% smoke-free environment for places under their jurisdiction.

According to the E.O., “nothing in this Order shall compel the persons-in-charge to establish DSAs nor prevent them from instituting more stringent measures in their buildings and establishments to better ensure a smoke-free environment in their premises.”

“As a group campaigning for a waste-free society, we trust that the enforcement of the E.O. will significantly reduce the number of cigarette butts thrown on the streets that ultimately find their way into the rivers and oceans,” she emphasized.

“The E.O., we believe, will help in protecting our urban, rural and marine ecosystems from cigarette butts, which is more than just a litter,” she said.

“Although small and lightweight, cigarette butts take several years to degrade, contain many harmful chemicals, pose environmental health risks, and waste public funds for cleanup and disposal,” she explained.  

The EcoWaste Coalition also expressed its hope that the proposed E.O. imposing a national firecracker ban will be signed next.

The group had earlier said that the immediate promulgation of the E.O. will give the country, particularly the firecracker industry, more time to perform the necessary adjustment and transition.

“The ban will surely not make everyone happy, but, just like in E.O. 26,  the greater public interest dictates that a tougher policy is adopted to put an end to the preventable cycle of injuries, deaths, fires and toxic pollution due to firecrackers,” the group stressed.

“We urge the President to hasten the ban on firecrackers, too,” it said.


17 May 2017

Watch Group Tells Schools to Shut the Door on Lead-Containing Paints and Products

A non-profit environmental watch group went school hopping this week in a bid to publicize the Department of Education’s policy requiring the obligatory use of lead-safe paints in decorating schools.

Coinciding with this week’s Brigada Eskwela, the volunteers and staff of the EcoWaste Coalition went to over 250 preparatory, elementary and secondary schools located in 23 cities and municipalities in Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan and Rizal.

The public and private schools visited were provided with copies of DepEd Department Order 4, Series of 2017, entitled “Mandatory Use of Lead-Safe Paints in Schools,” plus a matching “Lead-Free School” poster published by the EcoWaste Coalition. 

Schools were also given copies of the group’s “Zero-Waste School” poster, which seeks to promote adherence to D.O. 5, s.2014, which provides for the “Implementing Guidelines on the Integration of Gulayan sa Paaralan, Solid Waste Management and Tree Planting Under the National Greening Program (NGP).”

“We appeal to our principals and teachers to take an active role in preventing the entry of lead-containing paints and products in their schools as this will help in creating a healthy and safe learning environment that all kids deserve,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“As lead has no beneficial purpose for the human body and is, in fact, damaging to human health, we ask our schools to literally shut the door on lead-containing paints and products, and stop a preventable source of childhood lead exposure,” he added.

As correctly pointed out in D.O. 4, “the use of lead-safe paints shall reduce children’s exposure to toxic lead via lead-containing paint and dust, thus, avoiding health impacts,” Dizon said.

Surfaces coated with lead paint will deteriorate with time or when disturbed, and this will cause the lead from the paint to contaminate the dust and soil that children can ingest during customary hand-to-mouth behavior, the EcoWaste Coalition explained.    

As stated by the World Health Organization, “children are particularly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of lead, and even relatively low levels of exposure can cause serious and in some cases irreversible neurological damage.” 

Exposure to lead, which is damaging to the brain and the central nervous system, can result in health and development issues such as decreased intelligence, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems, to name a few.

As per D.O. 4, the use of lead-safe paints also applies to paint-coated goods or products directly procured by the school as well as those sourced by other means such as through individual, group, corporate or local government donations.

Moreover, D.O.4 requires that all products donated or sold to schools such as, but not limited to, paints, bags, school supplies and furnishings by commercial and non-commercial establishments, as well as concerned individuals, must comply with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, and other relevant regulations.