Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846
EcoWaste Coalition is a public interest network of community, church, school, environmental and health groups pursuing sustainable solutions to waste, climate change and chemical issues facing the Philippines and the world.
Armed with shovels, rakes and other hand-made tools, the residents, mostly from the riverside Barangay Banaba of San Mateo, Rizal, excavated the debris and garbage and placed them in sacks in order to restore the water flow of the Nangka River. The community action was done from morning till the afternoon.
“Mayor Marites Fernando and the local government of Marikina committed a crime to our environment by dumping waste and typhoon debris into the Nangka River. Worst, they neglected the responsibility to clean-up their mess and to provide a clear rehabilitation program for the said river,” said Noli Abinales of the disaster-risk prevention group Buklod Tao.
A major tributary of the Marikina River, the Nangka River also serves as the boundary of the Marikina City and San Mateo, Rizal. Post-Ondoy debris and waste collected for many weeks in the streets of Barangay Nangka and nearby villages by the personnel of Marikina City and Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) were dumped into the said river.
According to Abinales, the dumping of waste and debris caused siltation and narrowed the width of the Nangka River, thereby putting further at risk the residents living adjacent the said waterway.
“We decided to act and excavate the debris that we can remove to reduce possible risks that the rainy season may bring anew. We should have learned our lessons from Ondoy and we do not want a similar disaster to befall us,” said Abinales.
The clean-up is also a part of an ongoing program of Buklod Tao in partnership with Christian Aid, Community Organizing for Philippine Enterprise (COPE) and Swiss Interchurch Aid (HEKS).
Meanwhile the pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition challenged the administration of Mayor Fernando to take the responsibility of cleaning up and rehabilitating the Nangka River and other tributaries of the Marikina River.
“Our rivers are not dumpsites. It is a vital ecosystem that should be protected at all cost. Mayor Fernando should take ample steps to immediately address the clean-up and rehabilitation of the Nangka River and ensure that such environmental crime will never happen again,” said Rei Panaligan of the EcoWaste Coalition.
“The people took the initiative for the Nangka River. Our government officials should step up and ensure that similar efforts will be continued,” said Panaligan.
Quezon City. With days to go before Valentine’s Day, toxics and pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition, reminded consumers to love their health by passing up on toxic cosmetics.
To raise the concern of toxic chemicals found in beauty and cosmetic products, members of the EcoWaste Coalition led by Buklod Tao and Sagip Pasig Movement held a creative event in front of the Philippine Heart Center. They wore creative headgears depicting various cosmetic products such as lipstick, whitening lotion and make-up, and demanded that the use of toxic chemicals such as lead and mercury in these products be eliminated.
Lately, Chinese beauty and slimming products has been under tight watch as the Food and Drugs Administration discovered that they contain dangerously high levels of deleterious substances such as mercury and steroids. In an advisory the FDA issued last February 9, it warned against buying Zhen de Shou Fat Loss Capsule and Zhen de Shou Fat Loss Tea found to contain amphetamine, sibutramine or steroids, either singly or in combination with each other; and reiterated a warning it issued last month against three mercury-tainted cosmetic products like Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, Jiaoli Hulchusu Special Cut Genuine and Jiaoli 2+17 Days Clearing Facial Spots Suit.
The said event was part of the group's “AlertToxic Day” campaign that aims to inform the public of dangerous chemicals found in everyday products. EcoWaste demanded the government to enact and enforce an appropriate labeling policy requiring manufacturers to disclose the health effects of every ingredient in their products.
“As in the case of most products, manufacturers leave us customers in the dark regarding the health hazards of the things they sell. As consumers we must assert our paramount right to know and right to be healthy vis-à-vis the commodified right to be beautiful,” asserts Velvet Roxas, Deputy Executive Director of Arugaan, a women and children’s health group.
Republic Act 7394, also known as, Consumer Protection Act of 1992 ensures that consumers have access to safe cosmetics and more information about the articles available, and are protected against unreasonable risks of injury associated with their use. It compels the appropriate government agency to declare a consumer product to be imminently injurious, unsafe or dangerous, and order is immediate recall, ban or seizure from public sale or distribution whenever the departments find, by their own initiative or by petition of a consumer, that a consumer product is found to be injurious, unsafe or dangerous.
Studies of private consumer-interest groups in the United States and Canada, for years now, have shown that beauty and personal care products teem with hazardous toxins like lead and mercury. A recent investigation by the US Food and Drug Administration released in September 2009 revealed that lead was found in lipstick at alarming levels. Albeit withholding the brands, FDA found lead in all 20 lipsticks it tested, at levels ranging from 0.09 parts per million [ppm] to 3.06 ppm. Lead builds up in the body over time and, unfortunately, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no safe level of lead in the human body.
Unfortunately, such publicly beneficial study has yet to be effected in the Philippines.
Lead, one of the oldest known poisons, is a neurotoxin that adversely affect young and old alike. It is toxic to many organs and tissues including the heart, bones, intestines, kidneys, and reproductive and nervous systems. Lead exposure has been associated with high blood pressure, and studies have also found connections between lead exposure and coronary heart disease, and heart rate variability.
“It’s a huge contradiction for beauty products have an ugly side,” laments Cathy Untalan, Executive Director of Miss Earth Foundation. “Harmful cosmetics should be banned and their manufacturers should be made liable for all their detrimental health effects,” she adds.
EcoWaste cited the legislative ban on mercury in the State of Minnesota as an example. In 2007, Minnesota spear-headed the banning of mercury, also a neurotoxin, in mascara, eye liners and skin-lightening creams. When applied, mercury is readily absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream.
“When we consider mercury along with steroids, glutathione, salicylic acid and hydroquinone – ingredients in skin cosmetics under fire in the media as of late, then we will begin to see the real price of superficial beauty. I hope we don’t sacrifice health in the name of vanity, as some deceitful manufacturers would want us to,” says Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition.
Mercury can retard brain development in children and fetuses, which are most vulnerable to the metal's toxic effects. But it can also cause neurological symptoms in adults. Further, it is also known to effect damage to the brain, kidney, and lungs. Direct links to tachycardia [persistently faster-than-normal heart beat] and hypertension [high blood pressure] have also been established.