11 January 2011

Toxic watchdog slams continued sale of banned poison cleaner in Quiapo


A toxic watchdog campaigning for public safety against harmful chemicals today decried the blatant retailing of deadly silver jewelry cleaning agents in Quiapo, Manila despite a standing ban against their sale.

The EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol this morning combed jewelry and fashion accessory shops in the area to test if a recent government directive reiterating the ban on silver jewelry cleaners containing cyanide and other toxic substances is being followed or not.

"Our store hopping reveals the grim truth about the unrelenting sale of this toxicant that has already poisoned so many people. We therefore urge the government to vigilantly enforce the ban in the interest of public health and safety,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

In random test buys by the group’s AlerToxic Patrollers, volunteers were able to buy unregistered and/or unlabelled silver cleaning products from P25 to P60 in 10 out of 15 shops located in Carriedo and Villalobos Streets. Seven of the 10 stores issued receipts as proofs of purchase.

Last January 3, Undersecretary of Health Mario Villaverde issued Department Memorandum 2011-004 reiterating a joint advisory by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) banning the poisonous cleaning solution.

The government had to reiterate the ban due to four reported cases of unintentional as well as suicidal ingestion of silver jewelry cleaners last December.

The DOH and the DENR released a joint advisory in September 2010 in response to the clamor to halt the mounting cases of chemical poisoning attributed to both the accidental and non-accidental intake of the toxic solution by child and adult victims.

Silver jewelry cleaners, according to the UP National Poison Management and Control Center and the East Avenue Medical Center Poison Control Unit, is one of the top three toxicants among patients admitted for the past two years.

“Laboratory analysis of samples of silver cleaners show elevated levels of cyanide clearly posing imminent danger or even death to humans,” the DOH and DENR joint advisory said.

“All commercial establishments such as jewelry shops and other retail outlets and ambulant vendors are strongly warned against selling and/or dispensing unregistered and unlabeled silver cleaners,” the joint advisory said.

Those found violating the ban will be prosecuted under DOH Administrative Order 312 on “Household Hazardous Substances” and the DENR Administrative Order 97-39 on the “Chemical Control Order for Cyanide and Cyanide Compounds.”

The DOH-DENR advisory further urged the public to call the Food and Drug Administration at telephone number 8078275 for any information that may lead to the arrest of importers, manufacturers, distributors and sellers of banned silver cleaners.

Since the improper disposal of cyanide-laced silver cleaners can endanger aquatic life, the DOH and the DENR advised individuals and entities to surrender unregistered and unlabeled silver cleaning agents in their possession to the nearest office of the DENR-EMB or the DOH-FDA or their corresponding regional offices.

-end-

Useful documents:

Department Memorandum 2011-004, January 2011.

Joint DOH-DENR Advisory on “Ban on Silver Cleaning Solution Containing
Cyanide and other Toxic Substances,” September 2010:
http://www.doh.gov.ph/files/doh_denr_advisory.pdf

DOH Health Advisory on Silver Jewelry Cleaners,” July 2010:
http://www.doh.gov.ph/files/dm2010-0159.pdf

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