12 November 2018

Korean Store Chain Urged to Pull Out Banned “Shrilling Chicken” Plastic Toy

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit environmental health organization, has called upon a Korean concept store chain to take an unregistered toy, which is banned in Europe and in the Philippines, too, off the shelves. 

Through a letter sent last week, the group urged Ximiso Corp. to immediately halt the sale of China-made “Shrilling Chicken,” a squeezable plastic toy in the shape of a chicken that makes a screaming sound when pressed.  This toy sells for P95 per piece and comes in at least six variants.

“As an organization promoting the health and safety of Filipino children, we write to notify your company regarding the illegal sale in your store chain of ‘Shrilling Chicken’ that may contain hazardous substances,” wrote Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Dizon cited three reasons why the company has to stop selling “Shrilling Chicken.” Firstly, because of the likely presence of hazardous chemicals on its plastic material that can pose serious health and environmental risks.  Secondly, the toy lacks the required market authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  And thirdly, the toy is inadequately labeled.

The group noted that the product label provided no license to operate (LTO) number, cautionary statement/ warning, usage instruction, item/ model/ stock keeping unit (SKU) number, and manufacturer’s marking, including the complete name and address of the manufacturer or distributor.  

Dizon pointed to the possible presence of DBP, DEHP and DINP phthalates on the toy’s plastic material, as well as short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs), which are toxic plasticizers not allowed in toys and other children’s products.

“We further urge your company to ensure the environmentally-sound disposal of your remaining stocks of ‘Shrilling Chicken.’  We also suggest that you take back such toys already sold and to offer your customers full refund or suitable product replacement,” Dizon further said.

The group informed Ximiso Corp. that the FDA issued Advisory No. 2017-209 on 19 July 2017 advising the general public against the purchase of “Shrilling Chicken” and seven other toy products for lacking the required Toy and Childcare Article (TCCA) notifications.   These toys have not undergone FDA’s verification procedures, so “the agency cannot guarantee their quality and safety.” 

The FDA warned: “The use of such violative products may pose potential health hazards to the consuming public. Potential hazards may come from materials that are not allowed to be part of a TCCA product or from the contamination of heavy metals.” 

Prior to the FDA advisory, countries in Europe have either banned or ordered the withdrawal from the market of “Shrilling Chicken.”  Slovakia banned “Shrilling Chicken” in 2008, Sweden in 2013, Czech Republic in 2014, Spain in 2016 and Luxembourg in 2017, the EcoWaste Coalition said citing information from the European Union’s rapid alert system for non-food dangerous products.  

Slovakia, Czech Republic, Spain and Luxembourg took action after finding prohibited phthalates in toys such as DEHP and DINP on the plastic material of the chicken.  DEHP, in particular, “may harm the health of children, causing possible damage to the reproductive system.” 

Sweden banned “Shrilling Chicken” as “the product poses an environmental risk (chemical pollution) because the plastic in the chicken contains up to 10% short chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs),” a class of persistent organic pollutant.

In 2010 and 2012, laboratory tests commissioned by the EcoWaste Coalition found samples of Shrilling Chicken laden with high concentrations of banned DBP and DEHP phthalates way above the maximum limit of 0.1 percent by weight.


Reference re government-issued advisories vs. "Shrilling Chicken":

Philippines, 2017

Luxembourg, 2017

Spain, 2016

Czech Republic, 2014

Sweden, 2013

Slovakia, 2008

10 November 2018

EcoWaste Coalition Slams Boatload of Garbage from South Korea, Calls for Immediate Return of Misdeclared Garbage to Its Origin (Group urges PH to ban importation of waste plastic)

A national environmental health and justice organization denounced the entry of misdeclared plastic trash from South Korea, a highly developed economy, to a country like the Philippines, which is struggling to address its own garbage woes.

Fearing a repeat of the still unresolved Canadian garbage dumping scandal, the Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition called on the authorities to reject the illegal garbage imports from South Korea and to return them at once to their origin.

Bandila, the late night news broadcast of ABS CBN, reported about the garbage importation controversy on November 10.  The report can be viewed here:

“We find this latest incident of plastic waste dumping outrageous and unacceptable.  Why do we keep on accepting garbage from other countries when we know that our country’s plastic waste, which is literally everywhere, is spilling to the oceans and endangering marine life?,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We also find it ironic that while South Korea is taking action to control its plastic waste, including banning plastic bags in supermarkets starting October this year, and yet its unwanted plastics are being sent abroad,” she said.

“It’s high time for the Philippines to disallow garbage imports and to demand that developed countries, as well as manufacturers of plastics and other disposable goods, take full responsibility for their products throughout their whole life cycle,” she emphasized.

“The illegal garbage shipments from Canada misrepresented as recyclable plastic scraps, which are still in our country, are a stinking reminder of how disadvantageous and unjust global waste trade is,” she reminded.

According to the “request of alert order” issued on October 25,2018 by  Joel Pinawin, Supervisor, Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service, Bureau of Customs (BOC) - Cagayan De Oro City, the baled garbage misdeclared as “plastic synthetic flakes” arrived from South Korea on board MV Affluent Ocean on July 21, 2018.   

As per the said document, the shipment was consigned to Verde Soko Phil. Industrial Corp. and the “violation committed" was in relation to Section 1400 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act on “Misdeclaration, Misclassification, Undervaluation in Goods Declaration,” one of the crimes punishable under the said law.

As stated by John Simon, Port Collector, Mindanao International Container Terminal in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental: “Kapag plastic flakes, dapat puro plastic flakes ang makikita mo diyan.  Pero hinde, nakita naming may kahoy at iba’t ibang  materials.”  

The incident prompted the EcoWaste Coalition to renew the clarion call it made in 2017 for the government to ban plastic waste imports and for domestic industries requiring plastic scrap inputs to source their supplies locally.

“Barring the importation of plastic garbage should form part of the government’s efforts to improve existing regulations to avoid a repeat of the Canadian garbage saga,” the group said.

“Imposing an import ban on scrap plastics may even prompt  local industries to seek ways to retrieve locally-generated plastic discards,” which can help in reducing the amount of plastics leaking to water bodies,” the group added.

The EcoWaste Coalition made the call after China announced that it will prohibit the importation of scrap plastics and other wastes by January 2018 “to protect China’s environmental interests and people’s health.” 

The government of Malaysia announced last month that it will phase out in three years the importation of all types of plastic waste following the Chinese ban on waste imports.



https://news.abs-cbn.com/video/news/11/10/18/basura-mula-south-korea-dumating-sa-pilipinas (go to 0:09-0:15 to see the "Request of Alert Order")


08 November 2018

Safety First: Beware of Dangerous Button Batteries in Children's Toys

The EcoWaste Coalition, a environmental group campaigning for children's safety against harmful chemicals, has reminded parents to pay close attention to button batteries in toys and other products.

The group's latest toy safety reminder was triggered by a Facebook post that has gone viral about a young girl named Scarlett who accidentally put a button battery from a Halloween devil headband into her left nostril.   The said Fb post by Scarlett's mother Rose Chavez can be viewed here:

"Toys powered by button batteries can pose serious health risk to young children.  Button batteries in costume headbands, for example, can come loose, get swallowed or pushed into the nostril or ear by an innocent child," said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Aside from toys, button batteries are often found in other children’s products such as fashion and hair accessories, shoes and talking books, as well as in hearing aids, holiday ornaments, musical greeting cards, pocket calculators, thermometers, wrist watches and other portable electronic devices.

If accidentally ingested, the button battery could get stuck or lodged in the throat and cause chemical burns in just two hours.  In some instances, an ingested button battery may pass through the intestines and eliminated in the stool.   

If accidentally pushed into the nasal cavity, the button battery may cause mucous membrane injury, fissure or hole in bone and cartilage of the nose, scar tissue formation, and cellulitis of the eyelid.  

If accidentally placed in the ear canal, this may result in hearing loss, perforation of the eardrum, and facial nerve paralysis.

"Button batteries can pose serious health hazards, including chemical burns, and should  therefore be treated like poison and kept out of children's view and reach," Dizon pointed out.

To prove his point, Dizon cited the latest report from the National Poison Management and Control Center based in the University of the Philippines - Philippine General Hospital listing button batteries among the top 10 overall agents (ranking #7) in referred poison cases for pediatric age group.

"Like what Scarlett's mother did, parents should promptly bring a child who has swallowed a button battery or placed one on the nostril or ear to a medical doctor so the battery is  quickly removed to avoid serious or permanent damage," Dizon said.   

To prevent incidents of button battery poisoning, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated the following safety reminders:

1. Refrain from buying toys with loosely installed batteries, unregistered, inadequately labeled and not verified as safe by health authorities.

2.  If battery-powered toys cannot be avoided, choose one that has a battery compartment that is properly secured with a screw to prevent child's access.

3.  Carefully read the product safety precautions and instructions.

4.  Don't change or insert batteries in front of small children who may be enticed to do the same. 

5.  Make sure that button batteries are mercury-free or has the “0% Hg Cell” mark.

6.  Keep old and new button batteries out of children’s reach as these can pose a poisoning hazard.

7.  Store spent batteries in a sealed childproof container to prevent kids from playing with them.

8.  Avoid storing or leaving batteries where these might be mistaken for, or eaten with, food.  

9.  If a button battery is swallowed or placed on the ear or nostril, contact the nearest local poison control center, or call the National Poison Management and Control Center's 24-hour hotline at +632-5241078, or seek immediate medical attention. 

- end -


List of top 10 poison agents in 2017 according to the National Poison Management and Control Center:



06 November 2018

Discount Store Urged to Take Dangerous Product Off the Shelves

A pack of attractive artificial nails that is sold for just P20 comes with a toxic adhesive, which can put a woman’s health in danger.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a group promoting zero waste and a toxics-free future, made this discovery after purchasing fake nail kits from a store in Cubao, Quezon City that sells fashion accessories, knick knacks and other goods for only P20.

“Some women, especially teenage girls, may find artificial nails nice, pretty and generally harmless.  But, the problem is with the glue that is used to attach the fake nail to the real one.  A glue containing dibutyl phthalate (DBP) is hazardous to health,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Dizon cited the artificial nail sets that the group recently bought for P20 per pack.  A closer look at the label of the adhesive tube will show DBP as one of the listed ingredients.    

DBP is among the substances listed in Annex II, Part I of the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive, which “must not form part of the composition of cosmetic products.”

To protect women consumers from being exposed to DBP, the EcoWaste Coalition yesterday requested the store franchise owner through an e-mail to stop selling the said product.

Dizon recalled that in 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), responding to information received from the EcoWaste Coalition, issued Advisory No. 2015-006 entitled “Warning Against Unnotified Adhesive containing DBP.”

The FDA has warned against the use of DBP-containing adhesive for artificial nails as this can cause allergic reactions. “There were previous cases where allergic response to DBP was found to be severe. Allergic reactions can induce a state of hypersensitivity in the immune system,” the health agency said. 

“It can cause the immune system to respond to chemical exposures with immunological reactions that are harmful, varying from hives to life threatening responses such as anaphylactic shock, where low blood pressure and breathing difficulties can result in death,” the FDA explained.  

“We call upon your company to stop the sale of 'Splendid Nail' and to cause their immediate return to their manufacturer, importer or distributor for environmentally-sound disposal,” the EcoWaste Coalition wrote to the store franchise owner.

“As this is a matter of public health and safety, we request your company to undertake the requested action without delay,” the group emphasized.

As the product in question has no market authorization, the EcoWaste Coalition further urged the company to source and only sell products with FDA Certificate of Product Notification.




Overseas Filipinos Warned against Trading Cosmetics with Mercury and Hydroquinone

Confiscated illegally sold cosmetics and other regulated products,  (Photo courtesy of Devon City Council)

A local environmental health organization reminded Filipinos living or working overseas not to engage in the illegal trade of cosmetics containing hazardous substances such as mercury and hydroquinone, or suffer the dire consequences.

The EcoWaste Coalition issued the timely reminder after online trader Merarie Day, age 48,  mother of three and originally from the Philippines, was ordered last week by a British court to pay £31,200 within three months or spend time in prison for 18 months.

"Filipinos abroad must not engage in the illicit trade of cosmetics and other regulated products that are not compliant with national and regional safety regulations. In Europe, for example, traders of skin whitening creams containing hydroquinone or mercury are determinedly prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” warned Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition

According to the Devon Trading Standards, Day used her eBay account and her own website to sell products imported from the Philippines, including skin lightening cosmetics containing hydroquinone, which can damage the liver and the nervous system, and mercury, which can damage the kidneys as well as cause skin discoloration, rashes and scarring.

Despite repeated advice by the Devon Trading Standards from 2014-2016, Day reportedly continued to import and sell cosmetic products containing the banned substances, as well as herbal supplements that made false claims about their health benefits. 

A raid at her home in Milizac Close, Yealmpton yielded 600 items, including JJJ Golden Spot Removing Cream, which was found to be contaminated with mercury.

In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Philippines banned a similar product called JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream (Golden Package) due to its excessive mercury content.

According to UK media reports, Day in 2016 had pleaded guilty to 14 offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008; the Cosmetic Product Enforcement Regulations 2013 and the Nutrition and Health Claims (England) Regulations 2007.

It was also reported that Day pleaded guilty to money laundering charges under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 with most of the money being remitted to the Philippines.

“At best these products would have left consumers out of pocket and at worst they were dangerous and could have seriously harmed their health. If you think you have some of these products you should stop using them immediately," said Stephen Gardiner, Interventions Manager, Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards. 

“By selling these products she put personal profit over the health and wellbeing of her customers. The fact that she has to pay back her illegal earnings or go to jail sends a clear message that we will not tolerate this kind of criminal activity,” he said.