28 February 2011

Green Groups Urge Mayor Lim to Safely Dispose TVs Seized from Illegal Gambling Activities in Manila

Environmental and health groups today urged officials of the City of Manila not to crush television sets confiscated by police authorities in the intensified campaign to demolish illegal gambling activities, but instead to dispose of the electronics properly.

Last week, Mayor Alfredo Lim led the smashing of 70 units of “video karera” (VK) TVs with a mallet and the burning of several color game boards at the Bonifacio Shrine next to Manila City Hall. Mayor Lim also destroyed 13 VK TV sets last February 14.

As confirmed by Manila's Department of Public Services to the EcoWaste Coalition, the broken TVs were then brought to the Pier 18 garbage transfer station in Tondo, Manila and then transported by barge to a sanitary landfill in Barangay Tanza, Navotas City.

In a statement, groups constituting the Project E-Waste Action Now! (Project EWAN) expressed their serious concern over the way gambling equipment seized from illicit VK operators are destroyed and disposed.

“We laud and support the unfaltering drive to stop addictive gambling activities that deflect youth attention away from their school and family responsibilities. But, we call Mayor Lim’s attention to the hazards of crushing or burning the confiscated gambling paraphernalia,” said actor Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, which initiated Project EWAN to catalyze awareness and action on e-waste issues.

“The smashing of TV screens causes dangerous chemicals in the equipment to be dispersed into the surroundings and thus jeopardizing public health. People smashing the screens are exposing themselves to airborne toxins and glass shards when the screen implodes,” said lawyer Richard Gutierrez of Ban Toxics and coordinator of Project EWAN.

“Burning painted game boards releases toxic fumes, including cancer-causing pollutants, into the atmosphere that can aggravate the air quality and trigger serious ailments,” added Manny Calonzo of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.

The groups had sought the advice of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on how to safely dispose the unwanted VK units, which are typically old and almost defunct imported TV appliances.

“The confiscated video karera TVs are better sent to government-accredited electronic recyclers where these can be dismantled in controlled conditions that will minimize toxic discharge into the environment,” suggested Engr. Geri Geronimo Sañez of the Hazardous Waste Management Section of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).

Waste television and other spent consumer electronics, or e-waste, due to their toxic make-up, require environmentally-sound management and should not be dumped, landfilled, incinerated or even recycled in unregulated conditions, the groups said.

Televisions are known to contain in its various components hazardous chemicals such as brominated flame retardants, cadmium, lead, mercury and several other chemicals.

Among the toxic materials found in TVs, lead, a chemical that attacks the brain, is a major concern. Lead can be found in the cathode ray tube (also known as the picture tube, monitor or screens), depending on the size and model of the TV, can contain as much as four to eight pounds of lead.

According to a factsheet published by the EcoWaste Coalition, exposure to lead can damage the nervous system as well as the gastro-intestinal and immune systems. It is very toxic to humans, especially for developing foetuses and young children.

-end-

Note:

The information regarding the disposal of the broken TVs was provided to the EcoWaste Coalition by Mr. Lex de los Reyes of Manila DPS in a phone call this morning (phone number: 5279636).

26 February 2011

EcoWaste Coalition pushes for litter-free environment in the aftermath of People Power celebration



The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, has expressed disappointment over the rampant littering during the silver anniversary celebration yesterday of the 1986 People Power Revolution in EDSA.

At the same time, the group commended the hundreds of street sweepers who diligently helped in cleaning up EDSA from wee hours of the morning until after midnight.

“We’re very disappointed to see assorted garbage scattered around the People Power Monument and adjacent spots as the historic occasion is commemorated," said Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“The garbage-strewn stretch of EDSA, particularly from Corinthian Gardens to Gate 5 of Camp Aguinaldo, is a stark reminder of the country’s chronic problem with littering that simply has to go,” he noted.

Among the most littered items as identified by the group’s Basura Patrollers were plastic bags, polystyrene food containers, plastic cups and bottles, cigarette butts and discarded advertising materials from real estate, telecommunication and other commercial entities.

“The situation would have gone worse if not for the diligent work of government-employed street sweepers many of whom were seen picking up litter with metal tongs all throughout the day,” Alvarez said.

The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) deployed some 350 street sweepers yesterday in anticipation of the huge crowds who took part in the re-enactment of the “Salubungan” and the “Tatak EDSA 25” concert.

“We laud the waste pickers for pulling out recyclable items such as plastic bottles and carton boxes from garbage bags and heaps, which has greatly reduced the volume of trash to be hauled,” he also said.

Citing information given by Francis Martinez, head of MMDA's road clearing operations, the EcoWaste Coalition said that 5 and a half six-wheeler mini-dump trucks were used to haul the trash from the area yesterday and this morning.

“We hope that future activities, especially those organized by the government, would be strictly litter-free in line with Republic Act 9003,” Alvarez said.

“Such a basic environmental policy should be firmly observed at all times,” he emphasized.

“We should not be dependent on street sweepers, waste pickers and eco-volunteers to clean up our mess. It’s everyone’s responsibility to keep our surroundings clean and safe,” he pointed out.

Section 48 of R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, explicitly prohibits the “littering, throwing, dumping of waste matters in public places such as roads, sidewalks, canals, esteros or parks, and establishments.”

Violators upon conviction shall be punished with a fine of not less than P300 up to P1,000, or render community service for at least one day up to a maximum of 15 days in a local government unit where the act was committed.

The EcoWaste Coalition had earlier pressed for a “green people power” to cut the country's mammoth "waste size" of nearly 13 million tons annually, close and rehabilitate over 1,000 illegal dumpsites and stop the filthy practice of littering.

-end-













24 February 2011

8 Patay sa Pag-inom ng Lasong Silver Cleaner

Quezon City. Ikinabahala ng EcoWaste Coalition, isang toxic watchdog, ang tila walang patid na mga kaso ng pagkalason mula sa pag-inom ng silver cleaner sa gitna ng kautusang mahigpit na nagbabawal sa pagtitinda nito.

Ayon sa grupo, walong Pilipino na may idad 2 hanggang 47 ang naiulat na namatay mula Disyembre 8, 2010 hanggang Enero 21, 2011 dahil sa aksidente at hindi aksidenteng pagtungga ng silver cleaner.

Sa walong kaso ng pagkamatay na nailathala sa mga pahayagan, anim ang tahasang uminom ng silver cleaner para magpatiwakal at matakasan ang mga pasaning problema sa buhay.

Dalawa naman sa walong kaso ay mga paslit na nalason at nasawi matapos mapagkamalang inuming tubig ang likidong panglinis na may cyanide at iba pang mapanganib na kemikal.

Kabilang sa mga naitalang nasawi noong Disyembre 2010 sina Rea Patricio, 14, ng Navotas City na namatay noong Disyembre 8; Manny Bacani, 2, Muntinlupa City, Disyembre 16; at Marissa Ruega, 19, Caloocan City, Disyembre 19.

Sa pagpasok ng taong 2011 ay nasawi naman sina Armando Fabon, 47, Caloocan City, Enero 11; Christine Gomez, 2, Santiago City, Isabela, Pebrero 2; Jenny Rose Aspe, 17, Manila, Pebrero 2; Jade Dinero, 39, Caloocan City, Pebrero 3; at Mary Jane Sahi, 27, Manila, Pebrero 21.

Dahil dito ay nag-apila ang EcoWaste Coalition kay General Raul Bacalzo ng Philippine National Police na magsagawa ng kaukulang aksyon upang masugpo ang walang habas na kalakalan sa mga ipinagbabawal na panglinis ng mga alahas na pilak.

“We recommend immediate police operations against unscrupulous silver jewelry shops and vendors to send a strong and unequivocal message that the government means business when it comes to protecting human lives against deadly silver cleaning agents,” sabi ni Roy Alvarez, Pangulo ng EcoWaste Coalition, sa kanyang liham sa hepe ng PNP.

Ipinagbabawal sa ilalim ng Joint DOH-DENR Advisory 2010-001 ang paggawa, pag-angkat, pamamahagi at pagtitinda ng silver cleaner na hindi rehistrado sa Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at walang nararapat na tatak (label).

Sa isinagawang pagsisiyasat ng AlerToxic Patrol ng EcoWaste Coalition ay laganap pa rin ang pagbebenta ng mga silver cleaner na hindi rehistrado at hindi markado sa Metro Manila, laluna sa mga silver jewelry store sa Baclaran, Divisoria at Quiapo.

Sa listahan ng FDA ay pitong produkto lamang ng "stainless/metal polish" ang rehistrado sa ahensya. Ito ang 3M , Kiwi, Pledge, Primo, Suma Silver D8 Liquid Cleaner, Suma Stainless Steel Polish (for professional use only) at Activ M1 Instant Acid Silver Destainer (for industrial use only).

"Kung hindi masusugpo ang talamak na bentahan ng silver cleaner ay magpapatuloy ang kalunus-lunos na pagkalason at pagkamatay ng ating mga kababayan dahil sa lasong ito," babala ng EcoWaste Coalition.

-tapos-

22 February 2011

Toxic watchdog seeks police action to stop illegal sale of deadly silver jewelry cleaner


Quezon City. A toxic watchdog has sought the help of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to stop the illegal sale of silver jewelry cleaner, a lethal potion, that has killed at least seven Filipinos from December 2010 to February 2011.

In a letter sent today to PNP Director General Raul Bacalzo, the EcoWaste Coalition urged police authorities to take urgent action “to stop the string of disheartening deaths due to the unintended or intended ingestion of toxic silver cleaners.”

“We recommend immediate police operations against unscrupulous silver jewelry shops and vendors to send a strong and unequivocal message that the government means business when it comes to protecting human lives against deadly silver cleaning agents,” wrote Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

The group also suggested that such operations be undertaken by the PNP in coordination with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), other concerned national and local agencies, and the mass media.

At a meeting convened today by the EMB to address the lingering issue of silver cleaner poisoning, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed to the need for effective communication of the government policy banning unregistered and/or unlabelled silver cleaning products, as well as for ensuring public access to counselling and other psychological support services to thwart suicide attempts.

Based on its monitoring, seven Filipinos with age ranging from 2 to 47 have died from December 2010 to February 2011 due to the accidental or suicidal intake of silver cleaning agents containing cyanide and other harmful chemicals.

Of the seven fatalities, five were reported as suicide cases. The other two cases involved accidental drinking of the lethal solution by a boy and a girl who were both two-year old at the time of their death.

Among the victims as documented by the EcoWaste Coalition were Rea Patricio, 14-year old of Navotas City who died on December 8, 2010; Manny Bacani, 2, Muntinlupa City, December 16, 2010; Marissa Ruega, 19, Caloocan City, December 19, 2010; Armando Fabon, 47, Caloocan City, January 11, 2011; Christine Gomez, 2, Santiago City, Isabela, February 2011; Jenny Rose Aspe, 17, Tondo, Manila, February 2, 2011; and Jade Dinero, 39, Caloocan City, February 3, 2011.

The Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) last year issued a joint advisory banning silver jewelry cleaning solution with cyanide and other toxic substances as ingredients.

Signed by Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona and Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, the Joint DOH-DENR Advisory 2010-001 strictly prohibits the sale of silver cleaning agents not duly registered with the FDA and not properly labelled, saying that such products pose a “threat to health and safety."
According to the DOH and DENR, “laboratory analysis of samples of these silver cleaners solution show elevated levels of cyanide, clearly posing imminent danger or even death to humans, particularly when accidentally or deliberately ingested.”

However, test buys conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol in December 2010 and in January 2011 showed rampant sale of unregistered and unlabelled silver cleaning products in Metro Manila despite the supposed ban.

Such a situation led to Health Undersecretary Mario C. Villaverde issuing Memorandum Circular 2011-004 last January 3 to restate the ban as directed by the said Joint DOH-DENR Advisory.

Violators of the ban shall be penalized under the provisions of the FDA Administrative Order 312 (P.D. 881) on Household Hazardous Substances, and DENR Administrative Order 97-39 of Republic Act 6969, the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Act.

-end-

I. References to the silver cleaner poisoning fatalities from December 2010 to February 2011:

Rea Patricio, 14, Navotas City (suicidal intake), 8 December 2010
http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=637492&publicationSubCategoryId=93

Manny Bacani, 2, Muntinlupa City/Tondo, Manila (accidental intake), 16 December 2010
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/metro/view/20101217-309394/Boy-dies-after-drinking-silver-cleaner-solution

Marissa Ruega, 19, Caloocan City (suicidal intake), 19 December 2010
http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=641236&publicationSubCategoryId=93

Armando Fabon, 47, Caloocan City (suicidal intake), 11 January 2011
http://www.remate.ph/breaking-news/kelot-naglason-sa-caloocan/

Christine Gomez, 2, Santiago City, Isabela (accidental intake), 2 February 2011
http://www.remate.ph/police/2-taon-gulang-na-bata-tigok-sa-silver-cleaner/

Jenny Rose Aspe, 17, Tondo, Manila (suicidal intake), 2 February 2011
http://www.hatawtabloid.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=25310:-sinabon-ng-ama-debutante-naglason&catid=34:catfrontpage&Itemid=65

Jade Dinero, 39, Caloocan City (suicidal intake), 3 February 2011
http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=654215&publicationSubCategoryId=65

II. Joint DOH-DENR Advisory on Silver Jewelry Cleaner:
http://www.doh.gov.ph/files/doh_denr_advisory.pdf

21 February 2011

EcoWaste Coalition Pushes "People Power" to Cut the Nation's Waste Size of Nearly 13M Tons Per Year

A waste and pollution watchdog is rallying public support for a garbage-free Philippines as the nation celebrates this Friday the 25th anniversary of the 1986 People Power Revolution.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental watchdog, has called for a “people power” to cut the country's mammoth "waste size" of nearly 13 million tons annually, close and rehabilitate over a thousand illegal dumpsites and put a stop to the filthy practice of littering.

At the same time, the group urged all Filipinos to heed its 25 “down-to-earth” garbage prevention and reduction tips called "25@25" in commemoration of the 25th year of the famed non-violent people’s action for change.

Citing information from the National Solid Waste Management Commission, the EcoWaste Coalition said that the entire country generates some 35,000 tons of waste every day, of which 8,400 tons come from Metro Manila.

Of the yearly national waste generation of 12,775,000 tons, some 40 to 70 per cent are collected and thrown in 1,205 waste disposal facilities, of which 55 are “sanitary” landfills and 1,172 are open or controlled dumpsites long outlawed by Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

“Despite national and local laws prohibiting and penalizing littering and dumping, the unabashed trashing of our fragile environment persists,” lamented Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“People drop litter regardless of age, gender, education and social standing as if littering, a most evident environmental offense, is okay and acceptable,” he pointed out.

“By calling for a ‘people power’ against littering, the EcoWaste Coalition hopes that Filipinos, as one people, will reject this dirty habit and rally behind a ‘litter-free Pilipinas’ that we all can be proud of,” he said.

“We are not asking the people to come together en masse in EDSA or anywhere else. What we seek is a personal commitment from all patriotic Filipinos not to litter and to embrace a lifestyle that will treat our Mother Earth with love and respect,” he explained.

“This, we believe, is compatible with the theme of this year’s celebration: 'Pilipino Ako, Ako Ang Lakas ng Pagbabago' (I’m a Filipino, I’m the Force of Change)," he added.

“As the force of change, we, the people, can clear our surroundings of trash and get rid of dumpsites which are akin to gaping wounds that should be cleaned, sealed and healed,” he said.

To achieve a “litter-free Pilipinas,” Filipinos need to recognize dumping as a social ill that has to be dealt with head-on and exterminated, regard the habit as distasteful and totally unacceptable, and arrest the problem by enforcing R.A. 9003 in combination with information, education and other value-formation measures, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“We hope that P-Noy himself will lead this movement for a ‘litter-free Pilipinas’ in line with his ‘Social Contract with the Filipino People’,” Alvarez said.

The “Social Contract” refers to the electoral platform of then presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino that is supposed to represent "a commitment to change that Filipinos can depend on."

"Our President has silenced abusive flashing sirens (wang-wang). We believe he can also rid the country of garbage and dumps," he added.

To celebrate the 25th year of the People Power Revolution, the EcoWaste Coalition has come up with “25@25” or 25 practical tips to prevent the creation of waste and to reduce the volume of waste created.

The ideas came from the Alaga Lahat, Ang NARS, Ayala Foundation, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Interface Development Interventions, Kinaiyahan Foundation, Krusada sa Kalikasan, Miss Earth Foundation, Mother Earth Foundation, Philippine Earth Justice Center, Sanib Lakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod ng Inang Kalikasan, Sining Yapak and Zero Waste Philippines.

25@25 Garbage Prevention and Reduction Tips:

1. Be a role model in green citizenship: reduce, reuse, repair, repurpose, segregate at source, recycle, compost and never litter. Commit to 3Rs and more to divert useful discards away from dumpsites, landfills, incinerators and cement kilns.

2. Discourage others from dropping or dumping trash; courteously explain how litter ruins the environment and damages public health and welfare.

3. Make it a habit to bring your own drinking water in a refillable water tumbler or jug.

4. For coffee drinkers, always bring your refillable coffee mug/tumbler.

5. Place your “baon” in recyclable food containers that can be washed and used again.

6. Don’t toss cigarette filters on the ground; work hard to quit smoking.

7. Carry a personal litter bag or hold on to your rubbish such as bus tickets, food wrappers and cigarette butts until you have found a bin.

8. Never throw litter out of cars; keep a litter bag in your vehicle to collect your trash until a bin is available.

9. Don’t spit or throw chewing gum on the ground and by no means stick it under a chair, bench or table.

10. Spit is litter, too; it's unsightly and unsanitary, and could spread disease. Please don't spit on streets, sidewalks, pavements or inside buses, movie houses, etc.

11. Pick up after your pets; stop dog fouling in streets and parks.

12. Don’t leave your discards out by the road for collection.

13. Don’t dispose hazardous waste such as mercury-containing lamps, batteries and thermometers in regular trash.

14. Be a smart consumer, small is beautiful and less is more. Say no to plastic bags, make eco-bags your lifetime companion and always keep reusable/foldable bags in your purse or pocket for your needs.

15. Plan your shopping day, pick eco-friendly products with the least packaging, and make sure you have a bayong or other reusable bags to carry the goods. Be firm on not buying anything when you don’t have your bag with you. This will also save you from impulse buying.

16. Avoid buying in plastic sachets and “tipid-packs,” buy in bulk as much as possible and choose items in reusable or recyclable containers.

17. Plan your menu for the week, and buy only perishable goods such as vegetables that you need for the week to avoid spoilage.

18. Avoid buying fresh goods like fruits and vegetables from big supermarkets where these are usually wrapped in plastic cling wrap or placed on polystyrene trays. Get them from the nearest talipapa or palengke and put them directly to your bayong or reusable bags after weighing.

19. Bring empty ice cream or biscuit containers or small buckets when going to the market. You can use them for wet goods such as fish, poultry or meat before putting them into the basket or reusable bag.

20. Develop the habit of "no food and drink leftovers" during meals at home and elsewhere. Store leftovers in sealable glass or plastic containers and assign a “leftovers day” to consume them.

21. Support restaurants and food stalls that use reusable plates and utensils. Refrain from patronizing eateries that serve food in polystyrene containers.

22. Make it a practice to carry reusable food containers with you. This would come handy for take outs as well as leftovers from restaurants.

23. Shun drinking straws. Remind waiters not to give you one when you place your order and explain why. Drink straight from the bottle or use a cup instead.

24. Keep boxes of liquid milk, all-purpose cream, tomato sauce and similar items as containers to grow seedlings.

25. Refrain from consuming single-use, throw-away stuff and opt for reusable ones such as cloth table napkin and cover instead of disposable ones, handkerchief in place of tissues, native fans in lieu of plastic fans.

“We invite concerned citizens to add more to this list of practical waste prevention and reduction tips to suit their activities and needs and contribute to building a cleaner and greener nation that our children deserve,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Finally, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded citizens not to forget to exercise their legal right to sue erring national and local authorities as well as private and public citizens who refuse to comply with the requirements of R.A. 9003 and other related health and environmental laws.

-end-

19 February 2011

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago Launches Crusade against Toxic Substances


Office of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago
Media Contact: Aika Thelmo, Public Affairs and Media Relations Officer, 0918-9142297, 411-4680 / 3724573, 371-9156 / 552-6693

Press Release
Miriam launches crusade against toxic substances
19 February 2011

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, author of Republic Act No. 9729 or the Climate Change Act, filed Senate Resolution No. 376, which called for a robust and coherent national policy framework, strategy, and program for chemicals in order to reduce, if not totally eradicate, the adverse health, environmental, and social impacts of toxic chemicals to humans and the ecosystems.

Santiago sought stricter measures against toxic chemicals and substances after civil society groups such as the EcoWaste Coalition, Ban Toxics, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, and Health Care Without Harm, called for the need to implement the policy framework of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), which was since adopted by the international community on 6 February 2006.

“It is our shared responsibility to respect and ensure the right of every Filipino of this generation and those yet to be born, to live, learn, and work in a healthy, safe, and toxic-free environment. We therefore need a strong framework legislation to ensure coherence and synergy in our government’s approach on matters involving the health and safety of our people, especially the vulnerable groups, from toxic chemicals,” Santiago said.

According to Santiago, those most vulnerable to risks from toxic substances, include the children, women of child-bearing age, the elderly, farmers, workers, waste pickers and the poor.

“It is imperative that the legislature implement strong policies that will prioritize pollution prevention and environmental justice, in order to respond to some of the most pressing chemical safety issues today,” the senator added.

These “most pressing” concerns include the need for measures to eliminate lead in paints, prohibit phthalates and other chemicals of concern in toys, school supplies and children’s articles, prevent and control mercury pollution from human activities, ensure the environmentally-sound management of electrical and electronic waste (e-waste), and curb dependency on pesticides in agriculture.

Citing information from the United Nations Environment Programme website, Santiago said that SAICM seeks “the achievement of the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle so that, by 2020, chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on human health and the environment.”

The said “2020 goal” towards chemical safety was previously agreed upon by governments at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development.

In addition to framework legislation, Santiago also pushed for expanding public information and education on chemicals and chemical safety issues and observance of 6 February, SAICM’s anniversary, as “Toxic Awareness and Action Day.”

-End-

http://www.senate.gov.ph/lisdata/107379183!.pdf

FIFTEENTH CONGRESS OF THE REPUBLIC )
OF THE PHILIPPINES )

First Regular Session )

SENATE
P. S. R. No. 376

Introduced by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago

RESOLUTION

DIRECTING THE PROPER SENATE COMMITTEE TO CONDUCT AN INQUIRY, IN AID OF LEGISLATION, ON WAYS TO PROMOTE CHEMICAL SAFETY AND STRENGTHEN THE NATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE STRATEGIC APPROACH TO INTERNATIONAL CHEMICALS MANAGEMENT (SAICM)

WHEREAS, the Constitution, Article 2, Sections 15 provide: "The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them,"

WHEREAS, Article 2, Section 16 of the same provides: "The State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature"; .

WHEREAS, paragraph 23 of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) Johannesburg Plan of Implementation called for the development of a Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM);

WHEREAS, according to EcoWaste Coalition, a nongovernment pro-environment organization, the United Nations-sponsored International Conference on Chemicals Management held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, adopted SAlCM on 6 February 2006 as a policy framework for global action on chemical hazards with the view of promoting chemical safety around the world;

WHEREAS, SAICM seeks "the achievement of the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle so that, by 2020, chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on human health and the environment";

WHEREAS, it was reported that SAICM represents a commitment by the international community, including the Philippines, to act in order to prevent human exposure to harmful chemicals, particularly to protect sectors that are most vulnerable to risks from toxic substances such as the children, women of child-bearing age, the elderly, farmers, workers, waste pickers and the poor;

WHEREAS, it was also reported that SAICM addresses both agricultural and industrial chemicals, covering all stages of the chemical life cycle from their manufacture, use and disposal and including chemicals in products and wastes;

WHEREAS, the implementation of SAICM is fundamental to realizing sustainable development, including eliminating poverty and disease, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, promoting gender equality and empowerment, and ensuring environmental sustainability, among other priority developmental goals;

WHEREAS, the government of the Philippines mainly through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Health and other national agencies are undertaking specific projects in pursuit of SAICM's "2020 goal" such as the ongoing multistakeholder projects on mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls and other persistent organic pollutants, on chemical accident prevention, preparedness and response, and on a national chemical safety program;

WHEREAS, civil society groups, especially the EcoWaste Coalition, Ban Toxics, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace Southeast Asia and Health Care Without Harm, are actively pursuing chemical safety objectives, locally and globally, including upholding the citizens' right to know and participate in decision-making processes relating to chemical safety;

WHEREAS, there is an urgent need for a robust and coherent national policy framework, strategy and program for chemicals in line with SAICM that will ensure and advance the right of every Filipino of the current generation, as well as those yet to be born, to live, learn, and work in a healthy, safe, and toxic-free environment;

WHEREAS, there is an equally urgent need for strong policies, giving priority consideration to the precautionary principle, pollution prevention and environmental justice, that will respond to some of the most pressing chemical gafety issues today such as measures to eliminate lead in paints, prohibit phthalates and other' chemicals of concern in toys, school supplies and children's articles, prevent and control mercury pollution from human activities, ensure the environmentally-sound management of electrical and electronic waste (e-waste), and curb dependency on pesticides in agriculture;

WHEREAS, in addition to a framework legislation and to specific chemical safety laws and regulations, there is also an essential need for expanded public information and education on chemicals and chemical safety issues that could be attained through a "Toxic Awareness and Action Day," among other possible efforts, every 6 February to mark the adoption of SAICM;

WHEREFORE, be it hereby resolved, as it is hereby resolved by the Philippine Senate, to direct the proper Senate committees, to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation, on ways to promote chemical safety and to strengthen the implementation of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) in the Philippines.

Adopted,

MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO
10 February 2011

17 February 2011

Bishop Backs Renewed Drive for Litter-Free MM and Respect for Nature


(Photo from UCANEWS)

A Catholic Bishop has conveyed his support to the intensified campaign to address Metro Manila’s unrelenting struggle against trash and flood woes.

Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr., Bishop of Caloocan and concurrent head of the Public Affairs Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, expressed optimism that the government-led anti-littering and anti-dumping drive will yield positive results for a healthy urban environment.

Bishop Iñiguez was referring to the “Metro Ko, Love Ko” program for urban renewal launched last February 12 by Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino.

“I welcome this newest endeavor by the MMDA, our Metro mayors and other participants from the public and private sectors to promote environmental concern and responsibility among our people, particularly in keeping our streets and waterways garbage-free,” he said.

“I urge Chairman Tolentio and other prime movers of ‘Metro Ko, Love Ko’ to go beyond shallow beautification drive and aspire to shape a new consciousness and action in defense of the environment from which all of us depend on,” he emphasized.

“Any sincere effort that espouses citizens’ respect and love for their neighbors and surroundings should be cheered on and backed,” he added.

Bishop Iñiguez reiterated that “the Church has a responsibility towards creation” and to “save mankind from the danger of self-destruction” as pointed out by Pope Benedict XVI.

The Pope, in his “World Day of Peace” message in 2010, said that the Church “considers it her duty to exercise that responsibility in public life in order to protect earth, water and air as gifts of God the Creator meant for everyone.”

Bishop Iñiguez also echoed the plea made by the EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, for President Benigno S. Aquino III to lead the suggested movement for a “litter-free Pilipinas”.

“I likewise appeal to P-Noy to take on the campaign against littering and for Zero Waste as a personal advocacy in the same way that he fought and won his fight against flashing sirens (wang-wang),” he said.

“Mr. President, your action against wang-wang has won you rounds of hearty applause. Your action against garbage will surely cause waves of joy among our people and Mother Earth, too,” he added.

Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, had earlier appealed to the President to act as champion for a “litter-free Pilipinas," citing “his moral ascendancy and popularity” and ability to gain public support.

-end-

14 February 2011

EcoWaste Coalition Bats for Mercury-Free Cosmetics on Valentine's Day





“Is it safe?”

This is the crucial three-word question that health-conscious consumers must ask when buying cosmetics, a toxic watchdog said.

As love-struck Filipinos celebrate Valentine’s Day, the EcoWaste Coalition, an advocate for chemical safety, drew attention to the hidden dangers lurking in cosmetics that are meant to enhance or create desired personal features.

EcoWaste members marked the red letter day by congregating in Plaza Santa Cruz in downtown Manila with a big yellow banner that says "Mercury-Added Cosmetics: Injurious to Health” as backdrop.

During the event, the group unveiled a Medusa-like villain named “Valentoxic” after “Valentina” the arch-foe of Pinoy comic book heroine “Darna.”

In her first public appearance, “Valentoxic” drew public attention against mercury-added skin lightening products that are quite popular, especially among women and youth seeking to “improve” their skin complexion.

“Valentoxic in her debut is calling attention to the ‘out of control’ sale of banned skin lightening products that poison unsuspecting consumers with mercury, a dangerous neurotoxin,” said Aileen Lucero, safe cosmetics campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition.

"Filipino consumers deserve nothing less than safe and truthfully labeled products that are free of mercury and other harmful ingredients," she emphasized.

Like the Greek "Medusa" and the Pinoy” Valentina,” “Valentoxic” has “snakes” for hair, which were accented with small bottles of skin whitening creams that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had previously banned for containing elevated levels of mercury.

From Plaza Santa Cruz to Plaza Miranda, “Valentoxic” went from one Chinese drug store to another, giving shop owners copies of the FDA’s directives recalling mercury-tainted skin whitening products. They also gave out copies of the latest EcoWaste Coalition’s poster advising consumers to stay away from unsafe cosmetics.

"Valentoxic" was joined by health and environmental advocates from the Angkan ng Mandirigma, Ang NARS, Asitra, Buklod Tao, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, and Zero Waste Philippines.

In January, February, June and August 2010, the FDA banned a total of 28 brands of mercury-laced skin lightening products, all imported, from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan, for posing "imminent danger or injury to the consuming public."

Prior to the event, the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol conducted another round of “test buys” from February 1 to 10 of the FDA-proscribed skin whitening products.

“Despite repeated warnings from government regulators and threats of legal action, we still find the recalled dangerous products in the market,” bewailed Lucero, who, along with volunteers, conducted test buys of the proscribed items.

“Most shops that we went to sell the banned items openly, giving official or informal receipts upon request. While others sell them under-the-counter, refusing to provide any proof of purchase,” she recounted.

“The results of our test buys should provoke the health and police authorities to take stern action to close down the illicit trade that constitutes direct threat to public welfare,” she added.

Despite the supposed prohibition, the AlerToxic Patrollers succeeded in buying 13 of the 28 FDA-blacklisted skin whitening products in “tiangge” stalls, health supplements shops in malls and in Chinese drug stores located in Caloocan City, Las Piñas City, Makati City, Malabon City, Mandaluyong City, Manila City, Pasay City, Quezon City, Valenzuela City, and in Angono, Rizal.

Among the items bought include those banned in January 2010 (Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, Jiaoli Huichusu Cream), February 2010 (Jiaoli 7-Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, Jiaoli 10-Days Eliminating Freckle Day and Night Set), June 2010 (Doctor Bai Intensive White Revitalizing and Speckle Removing Set, Gemli Glutathione Hydrolyzed Collagen Whitening and Anti-Aging Cream, JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream, Shengli Day and Night Cream, S’Zitang Cream) and in August 2010 (Beauty Girl Aloe Pearl, Beauty Girl Ginseng and Green Cucumber, Beauty Girl Olive and Sheep Essence, St. Dalfour Beauty Whitening Cream).

To underline the hazards of mercury-added cosmetics, the EcoWaste Coalited cited the “Health Alert” on “Mercury Poisoning Linked to Use of Face Lightening Cream” issued by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in May 2010.

The said health advisory has identified several symptoms of mild to moderate mercury toxicity due to the reported use of unlabeled, non-prescription facial cream for lightening the skin, fading freckles and age spots, and for treating acne.

According to CDPH, symptoms of mercury toxicity may include nervousness and irritability, difficulty with concentration, headache, tremors, memory loss, depression, insomnia, weight loss, and fatigue. Other symptoms may include numbness or tingling in hands, feet, or around the lips.

Toxic effects on the kidneys may cause proteinuria, nephrotic syndrome, and renal tubular acidosis. Gingivitis and excessive may also be observed.

-end-

Link to CDPH’s Health Alert:

http://www.epa.gov/hg/pdfs/skincreamalert.pdf

13 February 2011

EcoWaste Coalition Lauds MMDA's Latest Cleanliness Drive, Renews Plea for P-Noy to Champion "Litter-Free Pilipinas" Campaign

An environmental network campaigning for a “litter-free Pilipinas” has thrown its support behind the freshly-launched “Metro Ko, Love Ko!” program to make the burgeoning metropolis clean.

The “Metro Ko, Love Ko!” cleanliness campaign unveiled yesterday (February 12) by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) aims to keep the streets and waterways of the national capital region garbage-free.

“We welcome this latest effort by the MMDA to strengthen the agency’s ongoing anti-littering drive in collaboration with local government units and the public and private sectors,” said Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

According to its website, the MMDA has apprehended over 21,000 litterbugs since the agency revived MMDA Regulation No. 96-009, the Anti-Littering Ordinance, last September 2010 .

“For such a clear-cut but enormous task of keeping Metro Manila garbage-free, the MMDA will need the help of all Metro citizens as well as transients who come to the metropolitan area for study, work, business or leisure,” he said.
“An intensified 24/7, year-round campaign against littering and dumping will hopefully lead to a dramatic turnaround of our disgraceful habit of throwing garbage wherever and whenever we like,” he added.

“If there is one social ill that our country needs to put a stop to next to graft and corruption, it must be littering,” he pointed out.

“We hope that MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino will pursue other upbeat steps to prevent and reduce Metro trash such as curbing the reckless use of plastic bags, banning non-reusable fiesta buntings such as those made of plastic bags, stepping up tobacco control measures, and making organizers accountable for litter-free civic, political, religious, cultural, commercial and sport activites,” he further said.

The EcoWaste Coalition likewise reiterated its plea for President Benigno S. Aquino III to lend his voice and energy to magnify and bolster the campaign against littering and for Zero Waste.
“While we know we should not be dependent on the chief executive to get things done, we strongly believe that it will make a huge difference if President Aquino himself leads the campaign for a 'litter-free Pilipinas',” Alvarez said.

“Given his moral ascendancy and popularity, P-Noy can make littering a thing of the past just like what he did with the abusive use of wang-wang (flashing sirens),” he stated.

“We fervently wish that P-Noy will speak up against littering, a dastardly act of environmental abuse and injustice with sweeping implications, and promote Zero Waste values and practices nationwide,” he added.

Aside from causing hygiene and sanitation hazards and flashfloods, littering leads to a litany of other problems that are too often ignored, the EcoWaste Coalition lamented.

The indiscriminate disposal of trash such as discarded plastic bags, cigarette butts and other common litter can injure, maim or even kill animals. Plastic debris in the marine environment, for example, can trap, entangle or choke birds and sea creatures.

Littering ruins the image and downgrade the status of a place, driving businesses, customers and tourists away. It further creates an unfair impression that Filipinos are shameless and filthy people who do not care about their surroundings.

Removing litter from streets and waterways also costs lots of taxpayers’ money that are better spent for building classrooms, for clean recycling projects and for expanded social services targeting the urban poor, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

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Additional information:

EcoWaste Coalition’s 10 practical waste reduction tips for caring Metro citizens and visitors:

1.Set a good example for others, especially the young children, by not littering.
2.Discourage others from littering by politely explaining the consequences of their actions.
3.Avoid using plastic bags and other single-use disposable items.
4.Reduce your waste size by separating your discards at source, reusing, recycling and composting them.
5.Do not leave your trash out by the road for collection.
6.Do not throw hazardous discards such as mercury-containing lamps and batteries in regular trash.
7.Hold on to your rubbish such as bus tickets, food wrappers and cigarette butts until you have found a waste bin.
8.Do not throw litter out of cars. Place a litter bag in your vehicle to collect your litter until a waste bin is available.
9.For chewing gum consumers: “you chew it, you must bin it.”
10.For pet owners: “don’t give your dog a bad name, pick up after them.”

05 February 2011

EcoWaste Coalition Backs Senate Inquiry on Antimicrobial Chemicals


A proposal by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago for a Senate inquiry on antimicrobial chemical ingredients used in soaps and a wide range of consumer products has won the backing of a non-governmental toxic watchdog.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network promoting consumer awareness and vigilance against toxic chemicals, threw its support behind Senate Resolution 327 that Sen. Santiago introduced recently.

In calling for “an inquiry in aid of legislation,” Sen. Santiago cited “recent scientific findings (indicating) that the antimicrobial compounds triclosan and triclocarban are hazardous to health and the environment.”

“We ask our Senators to act on Sen. Santiago’s proposal in light of new evidence showing that the rampant use of pesticides and biocides such as triclosan in consumer products leads to adverse health and environmental problems,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“While we await the Senate inquiry, we remind consumers to get informed, read the product labels, take precaution and shop with utmost care,” he said.

The EcoWaste Coalition noted that public interest groups in US led by Beyond Pesticides and the Food & Water Watch have petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban triclosan to protect the consumers, workers and the ecosystems. Through the Federal Register, the EPA has given the public until February 7, 2011 to comment on the need to ban triclosan.

Triclosan and triclocarban are antimicrobial chemicals added to personal and household products to prevent the growth of bacteria, viruses, fungi and mildew, and also to deodorize.

These anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agents are found in body and hand soaps, deodorants, detergents, fabric softeners, toothpastes and other products such as fabrics, facial tissues, kitchenware, medical devices, plastics and toys.

A market survey on February 4-5, 2011 by the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol found dozens of products containing either triclosan, triclocarban or trichlorocarbanilide, as written in the labels, that are being sold in drug stores, supermarkets and specialty discount shops.

To justify the proposed Senate inquiry, Sen. Santiago cited the study by Arizona State University Assoc. Prof. Rolf Halden and his team of researchers showing that “triclosan and triclocarban first aggregate in wastewater sludge and are transferred to soils and natural water environments where they were observed to persist for months or years.”

The same study showed that “the accumulation of these antimicrobials in the environment is exerting selective pressure on microorganisms exposed to them, thereby increasing the likelihood that a super-bug, resistant to the very antimicrobials developed to kill them, will emerge -- with potentially dire consequences for human health.”

Another study by researchers at the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety found that the “widespread use of triclosan may represent a potential public health risk in regard to development of concomitant resistance to clinically important antimicrobials,” reported the EcoWaste Coalition.

Also, the “National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that 75% of Americans have triclosan in their bodies and its levels are said to be increasing, noted the Coalition.

Across the globe, countries, including Canada, Japan and the 27-country European Union, have adopted policies to restrict human exposure to triclosan, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.

Based on the EcoWaste Coalition’s market survey, some of the products being sold in local retail shops that contain triclosan, triclocarban or trichlorocarbanilide, as shown in the labels, include the following:

BATH SOAP/WASH: Bioderm Whitening Germicidal Soap, Dial for Men Soap, Green Cross Germ Protection Soap, Jergen's Anti-Bacterial Liquid Soap, Maxi Peel Exfoliant Soap, Personal Care Anti-Bacterial Soap, Pure Aid Anti-Bacterial Deodorant Soap, Pure Aid White Anti-Bacterial Beauty Soap, Pure Spring Soap, Safeguard Soap, Vaseline 2 in 1 Healthy Body Wash and Vaseline 2 in 1 Healthy Skin Soap.

HAND SOAP/WASH: Body Treats Anti-Bacterial Hand Soap, Med Guard Anti-Bacterial Hand Soap, Protect and Clean Anti-Bacterial Handwash, Sure Buy Anti-Bacterial Hand Soap and Watsons Anti-Bacterial Moisturizers Hand Soap.

TOOTHPASTE: Colgate Total Professional Clean Toothpaste, Colgate Total Professional Sensitive Toothpaste, Colgate Total Whitening Toothpaste, Hapee Gumtect Advance Toothpaste, Hapee Gumtect Gold Toothpaste, Hapee Compete Toothpaste plus Whitening, Hapee Night Mint Tooth Paste plus Whitening, and Unique Gel Toothpaste.

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References:

Proposed Senate Resolution 327 on Triclosan and Triclocarban:
http://www.senate.gov.ph/lisdata/105699048!.pdf

Triclosan Fact Sheet:
http://www.beyondpesticides.org/pesticides/factsheets/Triclosan%20cited.pdf

Information re Assoc. Prof. Rolf Halden Study:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101109152939.htm


US EPA's Call for Public Comments re Petition to Ban Triclosan:
http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-30850.pdf

01 February 2011

Chinese food diners urged to go easy on disposable chopsticks

As the Chinese community gets ready to usher in the Year of the Metal Rabbit, a waste and pollution watchdog urged Filipinos who are planning to feast in Chinese restaurants to bring reusable chopsticks in lieu of single-use chopsticks that, by design, go to the bins after use.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network campaigning for sustainable living, appealed to Chinese food lovers to opt for reusable chopsticks as a fitting response to the environmental troubles being faced by both China and the Philippines.

“We are adding our voice to the clamor to cut the use and disposal of single-use chopsticks because of the deforestation and flooding problems in China, the world’s number one maker, consumer and exporter of disposable chopsticks, and our own persistent battle against garbage due to the incursion of throwaway habits into the national culture,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“By making a switch from disposable to reusable chopsticks, we help in assuaging China’s problem with deforestation that leads to soil erosion and destructive flooding and in trimming down chopstick trash from our consumption of mouth-watering East Asian food,” he pointed out.

“If you are planning to eat out in Binondo or dine in your favorite Chinese restaurant elsewhere, please bring your own reusable chopsticks and protect trees from being cut and wasted,” suggested Alvarez.

“We likewise encourage restaurant owners to provide their customers with clean reusable chopsticks and offer single-use chopsticks by request only,” he said.

“To entice their customers to switch to reusable chopsticks, eco-minded food entrepreneurs can provide incentives such as extra fortune cookies or fruit servings,” he added.

EcoWaste Coalition’s Basura Patrollers observed that only one of the 25 Chinese restaurants they visited along Ongpin Street and nearby streets in the heart of Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown, offer reusable chopsticks.

While all the 25 restaurants use reusable tableware for dine-in customers, only one restaurant offers both reusable and disposable chopsticks, which are given to diners if requested.

Aside from bringing your own chopsticks, the EcoWaste Coalition advises the public, especially those planning to go to Binondo in the coming days to:

1.Bring reusable bags to carry “good luck charms,” fruits, "hopia," “tikoy” and other Chinese delicacies that are plentiful in the area. Say “no” to plastic bags.

2.Bring containers for popular “take home” Chinese dishes that abound in Chinatown such as dumplings, steamed or fried buns, noodles, soups, stews and porridge. Cut your use of wasteful polystyrene food containers.

3. Consider making a healthy and eco-friendly food choice: go for vegetarian Chinese cuisine.

Citing information that Greenpeace East Asia obtained from China’s forestry authorities, the EcoWaste Coalition noted that China produces some 57 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks annually that requires over 1.18 million square meters of forest to be cut.

Chinese government data reveal that over 25 million trees are felled in China each year to meet the consumer demand for disposable chopsticks inside China and overseas.

Last year in June, China's Ministry of Commerce and five other ministries warned that "companies making disposable chopsticks will face local government restrictions aimed at decreasing the use of the throwaway utensil. Production, circulation and recycling of disposable chopsticks should be more strictly supervised."

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