24 April 2017

Watch Group Lauds Caloocan Barangay for Taking Action vs. Improper E-Waste Recycling

A non-profit watch group on toxic chemicals and wastes lauded the leadership of Barangay 178 in Camarin, Caloocan City for taking a stance to combat the improper recycling and disposal of electronic waste or e-waste.

The EcoWaste Coalition commended Punong Barangay Editha Labasbas and the Barangay Council for considering an ordinance that will prohibit and penalize the illegal breaking and disposal of toxic cathode ray tubes (CRTs).

CRT, the glass video display component of some electronic equipment such as televisions and computers, contains dangerous levels of lead and other hazardous substances, including barium, cadmium and fluorescent powders

The pollution prevention measure came on the heels of indiscriminate breaking and disposal of CRTs in certain parts of Barangay 178 as reported by the EcoWaste Coalition to Labasbas on March 8.

The ordinance, passed on third and final reading on April 20, will be transmitted to the Caloocan City government for ultimate approval.

It  proposes to penalize violators with a fine of P300 to P1,000 or with community service for not less than 1 day to not more than 15 days as determined by the barangay authorities.

“We laud Barangay 178 for taking action to protect its residents, particularly the young children, from being exposed to lead and other health-damaging substances from broken CRTs,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

"This is a very meaningful way to mark the Earth Month, and we hope that the Caloocan City Council will expedite the approval of the barangay ordinance in the interest of public health and the environment," he said.

“This policy measure provides a good basis for a city-wide ordinance that will ban the dangerous practice of breaking CRTs and leaving toxic fragments and residues lying on the ground,” he added.  

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), lead exposure harms children at much lower doses, and the health effects are generally irreversible and can have a lifelong impact.

“Once lead enters the child’s body through ingestion or inhalation or across the placenta, it has the potential to damage the brain and the central nervous system, as well as the blood system, the kidneys and the skeleton,” the WHO has warned.

The liquid-crystal display (LCD) of some TVs and computers are illuminated by cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL) containing mercury, a chemical that is hazardous to human health and the environment, which is also found in some circuit boards, relays and switches.

The said barangay ordinance was crafted to implement provisions of Republic Acts 6969, 9003 and  9275 and their Implementing Rules and Regulations regarding the safe management of chemicals and wastes.

RA 6969, the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act, RA 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and RA 9275, the Clean Water Act, prohibit acts that will endanger the public health and environment, including the improper recycling and disposal of CRTs.

RA 6969 and related issuances by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources such as DAO 2013-22 (Hazardous Waste Management) and 2013-24 (Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds) require the management of waste electrical and electronic equipment, including CRTs, in an environmentally-sound manner.


20 April 2017

POPs Recycling Taints Plastic Children’s Toys with Toxic Chemicals from E-Waste

A new global survey finds that recycling plastics containing toxic flame retardant chemicals found in electronic waste results in contamination of the world’s best-selling toy along with other children’s products. 

Ironically, the chemical contaminants can damage the nervous system and reduce intellectual capacity but are found in mostly imitation Rubik’s Cubes – a puzzle toy designed to exercise the mind.

The study was performed by IPEN (a global civil society network) and Arnika (an environmental organization in the Czech Republic) in cooperation with partner groups from 26 countries, including the EcoWaste Coalition from the Philippines.

The toxic chemicals Octabromodiphenyl ether (OctaBDE), Decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE), and Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) are used in the plastic casings of electronic products and if they are not removed, they are carried into new products when the plastic is recycled. 

The study was released just a few days before the eight Conference of the Parties (COP8) to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) will decide whether to continue allowing the recycling of materials containing OctaBDE and possibly make a new recycling exemption for DecaBDE. The treaty’s expert committee has warned against the practice.

According to the study,  90% of the samples contained OctaBDE or DecaBDE, and 43% contained HBCD. These chemicals are persistent and known to harm the reproductive system and disrupt hormone systems, adversely impacting intelligence, attention, learning and memory.

“Materials containing toxic flame retardant chemicals such as OctaBDE and DecaBDE should not be ‘recycled’ into children’s toys,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

At a meeting with the Environmental Management Bureau and other stakeholders last Tuesday, April 18, the EcoWaste Coalition requested the Philippine delegation to push for the end of toxic recycling exemption for brominated diphenyl ethers in the Stockholm Convention.

“Recycling materials that contain toxic chemicals contaminates new products, continues exposure, and undermines the credibility of recycling," said Pam Miller, IPEN Co-chair. “Governments should end this harmful loophole.”

Another critical decision of the Stockholm Convention Conference will be to establish hazardous waste limits. Protective hazardous waste limits would make wastes subject to the treaty’s obligations for destruction – and not permit their recycling. Surprisingly, some of the toxic chemical levels in children’s products in this study exceeded proposed hazardous waste limits.

“We need protective hazardous waste limits,” said Jitka Strakova, Arnika. “Weak standards mean toxic products and dirty recycling, which often takes place in low and middle-income countries and spreads poisons from recycling sites into our homes and bodies. “

The application of strict hazardous limits is also critical for brominated flame retardants due to their presence in e-waste. 

In many countries, the Stockholm Convention standards will be the only global regulatory tool that can be used to prevent import and export of these contaminated wastes, in many cases from countries with stricter legislation to countries with weaker legislation or control.


The report can be accessed here:


17 April 2017

Sale of Deadly Cleaning Agents by Sidewalk Vendors Alarms Toxics Watchdog

Unregistered and unlabeled silver jewelry cleaner on sale in Rizal Avenue near Recto Avenue, Sta. Cruz, Manila (top photos); repacked oxalic acid sold along with herbal products and other stuff in Evangelista Street, Quiapo, Manila.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a watch group on toxic  chemicals, products and wastes, has expressed grave concern over the sale of dangerous cleaning products in Manila's sidewalks.

The non-profit environmental and health advocacy group made its concern known after finding silver jewelry cleaning solution and oxalic acid powder on sale in Rizal Avenue, Santa Cruz, and in Evangelista Street and Quezon Boulevard in Quiapo, respectively.

The group’s Toxic Patroller on Saturday, April 15, found bottles of liquid silver jewelry cleaner being sold for P35 per unit by a sidewalk vendor in Rizal Avenue near Recto Avenue.

The water-like solution is packed in a small 80 ml plastic bottle that has no labeling information aside from the handwritten “silver cleaner.”

The group also found repacked and unlabelled oxalic acid powder being sold for as low as P20 per pack by herbalists in Evangelista Street and Quezon Boulevard.

“Police and health authorities have identified these cleaning agents as the culprits behind some of the gruesome poisoning incidents reported in Metro Manila and elsewhere, including several fatal cases,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“Liquid silver cleaners, which may contain cyanide, have resurfaced in Manila’s sidewalks seven months after Mayor Joseph Estrada ordered a crack down against the deadly mixture,” he said.

In late August 2016, Estrada, reacting to an EcoWaste Coalition’s exposé, directed the City Health Office to conduct raids on stores violating City Ordinance No. 8178, Series of 2008, which prohibits the retail sale of metal and jewelry cleaners containing cyanide.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), cyanide “is classified as poisonous which can be rapidly absorbed by the body through inhalation, ingestion and dermal absorption.” 

“It blocks utilization of oxygen in all organs and liable to cause serious injury to human health that may lead to acute poisoning or death,” the FDA said.

“Oxalic acid has not really disappeared from the informal street market despite the high-profile milk tea deaths in Sampaloc, Manila due to this lethal cleaning agent,” Dizon pointed out.

In April 2015, Ergo Cha shop owner William Abrigo and customer Suzaine Dagohol died after drinking milk tea contaminated with oxalic acid.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), oxalic acid is colorless crystals or white powder that can be absorbed into the body by inhalation of its aerosol and by ingestion.

“The substance is corrosive to the eyes, the skin and the respiratory tract and exposure above the occupational exposure limits may result in death,” the CDC said. 

To prevent further poisoning cases, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the city’s law enforcers to end the street sale of silver jewelry cleaner and oxalic acid once and for all.




16 April 2017

Group Pushes for Ecological Waste Management for Greener Pilgrimage Next Time (EcoWaste Coalition Scores Pilgrims for Trash Dumping and Burning)

 Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Cathedral, Antipolo City
 Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Cathedral, Antipolo City
 Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Cathedral, Antipolo City
 Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Cathedral, Antipolo City
 Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, San Jose del Monte City
  Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, San Jose del Monte City
  Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, San Jose del Monte City
  Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, San Jose del Monte City
 Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, San Jose del Monte City

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental group pursuing a zero waste society, exhorted the faithful to aim for greener spiritual pilgrimage next time by not dumping and burning litter.

To cap off its campaign for a trash-free Holy Week, the group on Easter Sunday took  litterers to task for spoiling popular pilgrimage sites and their environs by leaving behind tons of trash, including discarded beverage and food containers, snack packs, plastic bags, cigarette butts and improvised materials for sitting, picnicking and sleeping.

The group also chided those who set garbage heaps on fire for exacerbating the environmental mess with dangerous air contaminants such as particulate matter, which, if inhaled, can result to serious health effects, particularly to the heart and lungs.

The EcoWaste Coalition reiterated its disapproval and condemnation of trash dumping and burning after receiving more photo evidence of the unlawful acts committed during the holy days.

The group most recently obtained photos of mounds of trash, including bonfires (siga), taken on Black Saturday at the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in San Jose Del Monte City, a popular Lenten pilgrimage site.  The photos can be viewed here:


The group had earlier deplored the widespread littering that again marred the penitential Alay-Lakad to Antipolo City. 

“The dumping and burning of trash that happened in pilgrimage sites and the roads leading to them are totally inexcusable,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“There is no excuse for defiling the environment, the sustainer of all life, with pollutants that can cause harm to personal as well as community health,” she stressed. 

“Litterbugs cannot continue throwing litter anywhere they please because someone would pick up after them, or because they would be able to get away with it despite being a punishable offense under our national and local environmental laws,” she added. 

Both littering and open burning are forbidden acts punishable under Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and its corresponding local ordinances.

The EcoWaste Coalition expressed its hope “that pilgrims will mind their trash next time, and embrace the saying ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’ to heart, especially when they carry out penitential acts.” 

“The activities in remembrance of the Passion of Christ should not generate ‘holitrash.' Instead of adding to our garbage and climate woes, the solemn week should inspire us to clean our hearts and strengthen our respect for Mother Earth and other beings,’ the group added.

“Wasteful penitential acts should die away as we struggle to live amid the changing climate,” the group emphasized. 


15 April 2017

More Photos of Waste Dumping and Burning at the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in San Jose del Monte City

The above pictures were taken in the afternoon of Black Saturday, April 15, 2017, at the premises of the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in San Jose del Monte City.