31 March 2011

Toxic Watchdog Raises Alarm on "Miraculous Insecticide Chalk"

A group promoting consumer safety from harmful chemicals has sounded the alarm bell over the unregulated sale of “Miraculous Insecticide Chalk” in the local market.

The EcoWaste Coalition warned that the insecticide chalk, considered an “illegal pesticide product” in the USA, is rampantly sold by ambulant vendors in Quiapo and elsewhere as if it is benign and safe.

"Miraculous Insecticide Chalk" is not registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency that regulates household hazardous substances, the group also said.

The "made in China" insecticide chalk is commonly sold in sidewalks or public markets for only P10 per box. Each box contains a white chalk that appears like regular blackboard chalk. The chalk is used to repel and kill ants, cockroaches and other crawling insects.

“While the packaging claims it is ‘safe to use,’ insecticide chalk is a dangerous product that can harm humans, especially children, because of its toxic component,” warned Thony Dizon of the EcoWaste Coalition Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

“Insecticide chalk contains a toxic pesticide called deltamethrin as active ingredient,” he pointed out.

Deltamethrin has several chemical synonyms including decamethrin, according to the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Pesticide Database.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the EcoWaste Coalition said, considers deltamethrin as “one of the most toxic pesticides of its kind” and advises consumers that “insecticide chalk should be avoided at all times.”

Toxipedia, the free toxicology encyclopedia, describes deltamethrin as “the most powerful and therefore the most toxic of the synthetic pyrethroid pesticide.”

The EPA is principally concerned about insecticide chalk because young children may mistake the insecticide for blackboard chalk. “Children often take it in their hands, write with it and put it in their mouths,” the EPA said.

According to the EPA, overexposure to some chemicals found in samples of insecticide chalk can provoke serious health effects, including vomiting, stomach pains, convulsions, tremors, and loss of consciousness. Serious allergic reactions are also possible. Several children in the US have been hospitalized in the past after eating insecticide chalk.

As a concrete measure to ward off potential poisoning incidents due to the ingestion of insecticide chalk, the EcoWaste Coalition urges the authorities to stop the importation and sale of the toxic anti-pest chalk.

To repel ants, cockroaches and other household insects the non-toxic way, the EcoWaste Coalition recommends the following practical steps:

1.Remove the attraction that draws ants and roaches: store food leftovers in containers with tight-fitting lids, sweep up crumbs and scraps, compost organics, and wash recyclables with grey water before tossing them into the recycling bin.

2.Use warm soapy water to wipe clean kitchen counters, cupboards, appliance surfaces and the like where sticky hands or food/drink spills may have left some insect-drawing residues.

3.Fix leaking and dripping water from the pipes, especially leaky pipes under the wash basin that attract roaches in.

4. Squeeze calamansi into holes or cracks, or seal them, to remove insect access into your home.

5. Create barriers to keep insects out such as spreading cucumber peels in places where ants enter or applying garlic or chili paste to shut them out.

6. Mix equal parts of baking soda and sugar and scatter around the area where roaches go.

-end-


Reference:

http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/health/illegalproducts/chalk.htm

http://toxipedia.org/display/toxipedia/Deltamethrin

http://www.pesticideinfo.org/Detail_Chemical.jsp?Rec_Id=PC33475

28 March 2011

FDA Asked to Assure Public on Safety of Skin Whitening Products


Are the skin whitening products on store shelves safe for public consumption?

This is the question posed by the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol after finding some nicely-packaged skin lightening cream cosmetics in various retail outlets in Binondo, Ermita, Quiapo and Santa Cruz in Manila and in Guadalupe, Makati, last Saturday and Sunday (26-27 March).

To answer the question, the EcoWaste Coalition, a group campaigning for safe cosmetics, bought eight samples of these products and sent them today to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with a specific request to test the items for mercury, a toxic metal, and hydroquinone, a toxic compound.

Information from the mercury handbook published by the International POPs Elimination Network, of which the EcoWaste Coalition is a member, indicates that mercury-added skin whitening products often contain mercury chloride and/or ammoniated mercury, which are both carcinogenic. Non-mercury skin lightening products often contain hydroquinone, which is also highly toxic.

The samples sent to FDA include Berglotus Spot Removing Cream, Hieng Hok Miraculous Whitening Dispel Spots Cream, Lamb Placenta Whitening and Anti-Aging Cream, Lan Mei Rou 12 Days Whitening and Speckle Removing Suit, LiliKi Whitening Night Cream, Miss Beauty Excellent Therapy Whitening Cream, Miss Beauty Magic Cream, and Pretty Model Whitening and Freckle Removing Cream.

Three of the samples were manufactured in Taiwan and two from Hong Kong. The other three samples have no information in English about their place of manufacture.

“Health Secretary Ona’s recent pronouncement of a ‘tougher, robust and more responsive’ food and drug regulatory agency prompted us into requesting the FDA to conduct laboratory analysis of these products for probable mercury and hydroquinone contents,” said Aileen Lucero, Safe Cosmetics Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Testing skin whitening products is one way of protecting consumers against real health threats from toxic substances,” she pointed out.

“This is a most concrete service that the FDA can do to protect vulnerable consumers against product hazards to health and safety," she added.

An examination of the outer packaging of the eight samples reveal varying degrees of compliance with the labelling requirements under the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive of 2007, particularly on the full listing of ingredients and their corresponding weight or volume, the EcoWaste Coalition observed.

None of the samples indicate they contain or do not contain mercury or hydroquinone, the group also pointed out.

According to the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive, the following information should appear in the outer packaging of cosmetic products: product name and function, instructions on the use, full ingredient listing, country of manufacture, name and address of manufacturer or distributor, contents by weight or volume, batch number, product manufacturing or expiry date, and special precautions.

It will be recalled that the FDA in 2010 banned a total of 28 brands of skin lightening creams for containing excessive levels of mercury that can cause “imminent danger or injury” to consumers, according to the agency.

-end-

26 March 2011

EcoWaste Coalition Asks DENR to Stop Planned Obando Landfill Off Manila Bay

A waste and pollution watchdog today urged Environment Secretary Ramon Paje to stop at once the proposed construction of a landfill facility in Obando, Bulacan off Manila Bay.

The EcoWaste Coalition made the call after participating in the "No to Landfill" forum last Thursday in Obando that brought together over 200 individuals from various sectors and groups of the municipality.

“We are aghast to learn that the Obando municipal government has allowed the construction of a privately-owned landfill in the fishing village of Salambao in Manila Bay. It’s a pollution time bomb in the making to be erected right where fishing communities get their livelihood and sustenance,” said Christina Vergara, Zero Waste Project Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.

Municipal Resolution Number 102 adopted on January 24, 2011 and subsequently ratified on January 31, 2011 authorizes the Eco Shield Development Corporation to establish a 44-hectare landfill in Barangay Salambao, Obando.

During the forum, Rev. Fr. Edgardo de Jesus, lead figure in the anti-landfill campaign, exhorted Obando Mayor Orencio E. Gabriel to “abandon landfill as a solution to waste problem” and to promote ecological waste management instead.

Ecological waste management refers to the combined application of waste prevention, reduction, segregation, recycling, reuse and composting, excluding littering, dumping, incineration and other unhealthy disposal practices.

De Jesus also cited a "statement of opposition" to the construction and operation of any landfill in the whole of Bulacan that was signed by 140 priests, 105 religious and 132 parish and school leaders in the province.

“Landfills impair both the people’s lives and the environment. This is why we strongly oppose the construction of landfills in Bulacan,” stressed de Jesus.

The clamor of Bulakenyos against landfills has drawn support from the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network of some 125 groups that is seeking real solutions to the waste crisis beyond landfills and incinerators.

“We ask Secretary Paje to step in and halt this obvious travesty of the government’s environmental protection program,” stated Romy Hidalgo, Vice-President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, the Obando landfill project contravenes the intent of the government to clean up Manila Bay, reduce pollution in the Obando River and other river systems, as well as plant trees nationwide.

“Interestingly enough, there is a standing Supreme Court order directing concerned agencies, including the DENR, to clean-up, restore and preserve the water quality of Manila Bay, which is where proposed Salambao landfill is to be located,” he stated.

“In fact, some of the country’s 'sanitary' landfills are located adjacent or near surface waters, such as the Navotas City landfill in Barangay Tanza, a former 11-hectare fishpond southeast of the proposed Salambao landfill and lies east of Manila Bay,” Hidalgo lamented.

-end-

Environmentalists Vow to Monitor Illegal Recycling and Disposal of PCBs


In a bid to ensure safe management of obsolete electric transformers’ oils known as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), more than 50 civil society groups today launch a national campaign to ensure that none of the toxic materials will be disposed of illegally and jeopardize public health and safety.

Hailed as “Bantay PCBs,” the campaign aims to raise public awareness on PCBs, monitor any illegal handling of PCBs for reuse, recycling or disposal, and promote the environmentally-sound management of PCBs.

“PCBs are toxic to humans and wildlife. This will explain the resolute efforts, locally and globally, to prevent their damaging dispersal into the environment,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition

“Through ‘Bantay PCBs,’ we intend to nip in the bud the threat of PCB-containing oil, equipment and waste being handled recklessly to the detriment of public health and the environment,” he added.

Information from the UN-backed PCBs Elimination Network (PEN), of which the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives are members, says that PCBs are a class of synthetic organic chemicals used for a variety of industrial uses, mainly as dielectric fluids in capacitors and transformers.

Adverse effects associated to the exposure to PCBs, according to PEN, include damage to the immune system, liver, skin, reproductive system, gastrointestinal tract and thyroid gland.

The unauthorized handling of PCBs, which can put the workers’ health at risk, is explicity banned under the Chemical Control Order for PCBs issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

To support entities in complying with the required elimination of their PCB stockpiles in a safe manner, the DENR in partnership with the private and public sectors is implementing a Non-Combustion POPs Project for PCBs (or the Non-Com POPs Project).

The project will see the operation of a non-incineration plant, in keeping with the incineration ban under the Clean Air Act, for destroying domestic stocks of PCBs, which are commonly found in power plants and industrial facilities.

The Non-Com POPs Project is managed by the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau with support from the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. The facility, which is currently undergoing construction in Mariveles, Bataan, will be operated by the PNOC Alternative Fuels Corp.

Also participating in the Non-Com POPs Project are environmental health and justice groups such as the EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Ban Toxics, Health Care Without Harm, and Mother Earth Foundation.

-end-

25 March 2011

Envi groups appeal for closure of Bulacan and QC dumpsites

Bangon Kalikasan Movement, Green Convergence and EcoWaste Coalition are calling for the closure of the Waste Custodial Management (WACUMAN) "Sanitary Landfill" and VGP Engineered "Sanitary Landfill" located at Barangay San Isidro and Newtown Development Area, Brgy Minuyan Proper, both in the City of San Jose Del Monte (CSJDM), Bulacan; and the Payatas "Sanitary Landfill " in Quezon City---all of which are dumpsites in disguise.

“Respiratory diseases in children such as cough, colds, and asthma; as well as diarrhea and skin diseases are reported to have increased among those residing in the immediate surroundings of the VGP so-called "SANITARY landfill,” said Joey Papa of Bangon Kalikasan Movement, which is also a member of Green Convergence.

Papa, together with other members of Green Convergence and residents of Brgys Paradise III, Minuyan, Citrus---an affected area near Brgy. Minuyan, and Payatas, Quezon City, including the above-stated affected children, met recently with Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje to seek the immediate closure of the three dumpsites.

Mothers and their children and a barangay health worker affected by the VGP and Payatas dumps complained that dumps have affected their health. One child from Payatas asked Secretary Paje to close the dump, saying he and his playmates are getting sick of asthma because of the foul odor. "Nahihirapan po kaming huminga," he added.

Those living near Brgys Minuyan, Citrus, and Paradise III just below Brgy. San Isidro, where the WACUMAN dump is located, expressed similar complaints.

“Warm weather followed by a sudden rainfall intensifies the foul odor emitted from the dumps, making it more toxic and causing greater affliction among the residents and compromising their health. Also, the Santo Cristo River near the dump could be contaminated due to potential release of leachate. ” the complaining residents added.

“We urge San Jose Del Monte City Mayor Reynaldo San Pedro and Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista to immediately order the closure of the dumps and to set up the ecology center system starting with waste prevention, reduction, segregation in the households together with recycling and composting with the help of the barangay. A model of this system is within Bulacan itself, in the municipality of Calumpit.” said Papa.

"San Pedro and Bautista as a local government official, should lead by example by implementing the essence of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management, especially now that our country is in the midst of intensifying crises in the environment," Papa added.

18 March 2011

Citizens' Forum Pushes Government to Keep Toxic Chemicals Out of Products

A citizens’ forum today pressed the national government to implement health-based policies that will cause the removal of priority toxic chemicals in everyday products and their replacement with safer alternatives.

The forum organized by the EcoWaste Coalition, a toxic watchdog, sought drastic chemicals policy reforms amid growing concerns on the impacts of certain chemicals found in common consumer products that could affect the ability of children to develop and reach their full potentials.

Speaking at the forum, visiting US-based public health expert Dr. Peter Orris spoke about the need to protect the most vulnerable sub-populations from being exposed to the most hazardous chemicals that can cause birth defects, impair brain development, disrupt hormonal functions and trigger other serious ailments.

“Through blood testing of humans,” said Dr. Orris who also represents the World Federation of Public Health Associations, “we now know that manmade chemicals in products, previously thought to be safe, make their way into our bodies. We are most concerned by indications that infants have higher levels than adults of chemicals that we know impact on their developing brains."

Among the chemicals of concern that Dr. Orris, a professor of internal and preventive medicine particularly environmental and occupational health sciences, has identified in his talk include lead, mercury, phthalates, bisphenol A, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (flame retardant chemicals), perfluorinated compounds (water, stain and grease repellant chemicals), organochlorine pesticides and other persistent toxic chemicals.

“Although we do not know what the effects of the low blood levels we have indentified,” added Dr. Orris, “we do know that they are not normal and have no place within the maturing child."

For his part, Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, said: “We urge the Environment Department and other agencies to come up with strong health-based regulations against known toxic chemicals, starting with the Priority Chemicals List (PCL) that the Department itself has identified as posing unreasonable risk to public health, workplace and the environment.”

The PCL is composed of 48 chemicals out of which only five have Chemical Control Orders (i.e., 1. polychlorinated biphenyls, 2. mercury and mercury compounds, 3. asbestos, 4. cyanide and cyanide compounds, and 5. ozone depleting substances) that set gradual phase-out plan, restrict or limit the use or require substitution of the targeted chemicals.

Other chemicals in the PCL include arsenic, benzene, beryllium, cadmium, chlorinated ethers, chloroform, chromium, halons, lead, selenium, trichloroethane, vinyl chloride, etc.

Towards the adoption of health-based policies on chemicals management, the EcoWaste Coalition has put forward the following demands:

1.Prohibit the use of chemicals in products that have been linked to cancer, reproductive defects, endocrine disruptions and learning and developmental disabilities, particularly for products intended for children under the age of 12.

2. Hold manufacturers responsible for demonstrating the chemical safety of their products before these are sold in the market, including the full disclosure of their hazardous properties and potential effects to human health and the environment.

3. Enforce mandatory product labelling of chemical ingredients to guarantee the consumers’ “right to know” and right to make an informed choice, including requiring the inclusion of both graphic and narrative health warning in the product information.

“These reforms, we believe, will form part of the national contribution to achieve the 2020 goal for chemical safety under SAICM,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

SAICM stands for the “Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management,” which is a policy framework for global action on chemical hazards.

The “2020 goal” refers to the global commitment "to achieve the sound management of chemicals throughout their life-cycle so that, by 2020, chemicals are produced and used in ways that lead to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment."

The “2020 goal” was first adopted in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg and reaffirmed in 2006 at the International Conference on Chemicals Management in Dubai.

-end-

13 March 2011

Health Groups Urge Government Crackdown on Toxic Baby Bottles




Two major citizens’ coalitions have combined forces to ask the Philippines to join the ranks of countries that have taken precautionary action to protect babies from potential toxic contamination.

The EcoWaste Coalition and the Save Babies Coalition, in a creative event held today outside the Department of Health (DOH) in Sta. Cruz, Manila, called on the government to order the immediate recall of baby feeding bottles containing a toxic ingredient called Bisphenol A or BPA.

To draw attention to this toxic threat against children’s health, the groups mounted a tableau showing a baby doll lying in a typical bamboo cradle being fed through an oversized mock feeding bottle marked with the words “Ban BPA” and the “skull and cross-bones” toxic warning.

The event, held in observance of the World Consumer Rights Day on March 15, sought to advance the right of young consumers, particularly infants and toddlers, to be protected against toxic chemicals such as BPA that can put children’s health at risk.

The event drew the participation of advocates for child, maternal and environmental health from Ang Nars, Arugaan, Atsitra, Diocese of Caloocan Ecology Ministry, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and the Malayang Tinig ng mga Kababaihan sa Komunidad.

BPA, a known endocrine disruptor that can leach from polycarbonate (PC) bottles when heated, can mimic or disrupt natural hormone functions and potentially harm the development of young children.

“The government has the duty to guarantee the right to health and safety of all consumers, especially babies who totally rely on decisions made by adults such as parents and politicians. Canada and the EU have taken action against BPA, why haven’t we? We therefore urge Health Secretary Ona to take his cue from these countries and banned BPA-laced baby bottles for the wellbeing of Filipino children,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“While BPA-tainted baby bottles are removed without delay from store shelves, we similarly urge mothers to exclusively breastfeed babies for the first six months and continue breastfeeding up to the age of two years or more, complemented with nutritious Pinoy foods, to enhance optimum growth, development and health,” said Velvet Roxas of Save Babies Coalition.

Canada, the European Union (a powerful 27-nation bloc) and, most recently, China have taken steps to address the health risks posed by BPA in children’s products such as baby bottles.

Canada’s ban on BPA-containing baby bottles that was adopted as early as 2008 took effect in March 2010, while EU’s ban on the manufacture of such bottles became effective on March 1 this year. The sale and marketing of such bottles in EU will also be prohibited from June 1, 2011.

China’s Ministry of Health, on the other hand, is mulling a ban on BPA in baby bottles and other baby food containers,” saying that “BPA could disturb human metabolism, affect babies’ immune system and even induce cancer.”

The EcoWaste Coalition and the Save Babies Coalition have come up with seven consumer tips to prevent and reduce exposure to BPA such as:

1. Nourish your child with breastmilk, the most complete and first Zero Waste food. Go for exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and continue breastfeeding for two years and beyond.

2. Go for cup feeding or the giving of expressed breastmilk through cups as the situation requires (expressing is the taking of milk from the breast, without the baby suckling, by hand or with a breast pump).

3. Refrain from feeding your baby canned foods with plastic linings, which might contain BPA.

4. Avoid polycarbonate plastic containers, usually marked “PC” or the number “7”; use safer alternatives such as glass, ceramics or stainless steel.

5. Refrain from microwaving food and beverage in plastic or plastic cling wraps. If you prefer to microwave, put the food or drink on a suitable plate or cup instead.

6. Reduce consumption of canned foods as can liners may contain BPA; opt for fresh natural and indigenous food instead.

7. Check product labels and select the ones that say “BPA-Free.” Ask your retailer to offer BPA-free products.

-end-

10 March 2011

DENR Urged to Adopt Strong Policy vs. Lead-Added Paints for Children's Health

Over 20 environmental and health advocates today press the government to adopt a robust policy that will get rid of lead-added paints to curb children’s exposure to lead, a toxic metal that invades and attacks the brain.

In a letter sent to Atty. Juan Miguel Cuna, Director of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), the green groups led by the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) sought for a policy that is in sync with the international consensus to phase out lead-added paints.

The groups were reacting to the EMB’s call for public comments regarding the final draft of the “Chemical Control Order (CCO) for Lead and Lead Compounds” as posted in the agency’s website.

Lead and lead compounds belong to the “Priority Chemicals List” of the Philippines that must be regulated, phased out or banned because of the serious risks these chemicals posed to public health, workplace, and in environment.

“The draft CCO must disallow the use of lead pigments in preparations and materials such as paint mixtures and children’s products and hasten industry shift to clean production via kid-safe alternatives to lead,” said Manny Calonzo of GAIA and the EcoWaste Coalition, stressing that “children are most susceptible to lead exposure and poisoning due to their hand-to-mouth and object-to-mouth activities and their smaller and still developing bodies.”

The draft CCO lists the use of lead in ‘paints, coatings and red lead primer” among the “allowable uses.” While there is a reference for “allowable limit,” the draft CCO contains no specification on what limit is to be allowed.

The draft CCO is not in step with the global consensus to prevent children’s exposure to lead via lead-added paints as well as minimize occupational exposure to leaded paints, the groups pointed out.

“If not improved, the CCO will run counter to chemical policy trends that are increasingly protective of children’s health. It would be very embarrassing for the Philippines to go against the global drive to protect children from being poisoned and harmed by lead-added paints and products,” the groups observed.

The groups cited paragraph 57 of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) Plan of Implementation, which calls for the “phase out lead in lead-based paints and in other sources of human exposure, work to prevent, in particular, children's exposure to lead and strengthen monitoring and surveillance efforts and the treatment of lead poisoning.”

They also cited a more recent decision in 2009 by the Second International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM2), which established the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paints (GAELP) under the joint coordination of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

According to GAELP, lead is a toxic metal affecting the multiple body systems, including the neurologic, hematologic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and renal system.

For a stronger policy that will adequately protect children’s health and development from lead-added paints, the groups urged the DENR-EMB to revise the draft CCO as follows:

1. Set a mandatory standard that will explicitly and intentionally disallow the use of lead in paint in excess of 90 parts per million (ppm).

2. Expand the prohibition on the use of lead in “toys” to include “children’s articles” that will include children’s toys, jewelry, school supplies and other products intended for children.

3. Restrict “allowable uses” of lead to exclude such commercial and industrial uses where safer non-lead alternatives exist.

4. Emphasize essential information shall not be treated as confidential business information such as a) the total lead content of preparations or articles, b) commercial and industrial users of lead and lead compounds who have registered with the regulatory body, and c) information on health and safety issues pertaining to the use of these chemicals,

5. Require a health warning on lead-added preparations and articles.

6. Require an independent third party certification system that will confirm compliance with the “allowable limit” for lead in paint.

7. Strengthen provision for environmentally-sound management of lead-containing waste.

The 90 ppm lead in paint standard follows the recently revised US limit for lead-added paints applied for residential uses, and those applied for toys and consumer products designed for children age 12 and younger, the groups explained.

Laboratory tests abroad that were commissioned by the EcoWaste Coalition for 35 local paint samples in 2008 and for 25 samples in 2010 showed average lead concentration of over 300 times the US 90 ppm standard. The highest lead level found in the 2008 test conducted in India was 189,163.5 ppm, and 161,700 ppm for the 2010 test conducted in the USA.

Joining GAIA and the EcoWaste Coalition in pressing for kid-safe paints were the Angkan ng Mandirigma, Ang NARS, Arugaan, Ban Toxics, Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, Citizens Organization Concerned with Advocating for Philippine Environmental Sustainability, Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Interface Development Interventions Inc., Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives, Krusada sa Kalikasan, Miriam P.E.A.C.E., Mother Earth Foundation, November 17 Movement, Philippine Earth Justice Center, Philippine Network on Climate Change, Sanib Lakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod ng Inang Kalikasan, Zero Waste Philippines, toxicologist Dr. Romy Quijano and beauty queen Cathy Untalan.

References:

Final Draft CCO for Lead and Lead Compounds:

http://www.emb.gov.ph/chemicals/docs/3rd%20Draft%20DENR%20Administrative%20Order-CCO%20for%20Lead%20-%2011-17-10.pdf

Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paints:

http://www.who.int/ipcs/features/pb_alliance/en/index.html

09 March 2011

Police Seized Deadly Silver Jewelry Cleaners from Baclaran Shops



Quezon City. Paranaque City police operatives yesterday (March 8) raided shops in Baclaran in the latest police effort to stop the unlawful sale of deadly silver jewelry cleaners in Metro Manila.

The police action, the second in a row of police operations after the Manila police operation in Quiapo last March 1, seized 34 unregistered liquid silver cleaning products from four shops located in Baclaran Super Mall.

Police Major Michael Chavez, Chief of Intelligence Unit, led the raiding team that also involved representatives from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), EcoWaste Coalition and the media (Channel 7's "Imbestigador").

“It’s unlawful to sell unregistered and unlabelled silver cleaning agents. We appeal to shop owners and vendors to follow the law. We will monitor their compliance and conduct another round of police operation if needed. Our duty is to protect our people from toxic harm,” said Police Major Chavez.

The sale of unregistered and unlabelled silver jewelry cleaners containing cyanide and other toxic substances is banned under the Joint DOH-DENR Advisory 2010-001 issued in September last year to halt the injuries and deaths resulting from their accidental or suicidal ingestion.

The government prohibits the sale of silver cleaning agents not duly registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and not properly labelled as required under the Consumer Protection Act and other laws.

In a complaint sent to PNP Director General Raul Bacalzo last February 22, the EcoWaste Coalition identified Baclaran, particularly the Baclaran Super Mall, as one of the “hotspots” of unlawful trade of the banned silver cleaning products.

“We laud the Paranaque police for affirming their duty to safeguard the public health and safety. We hope the police operations will continue until illegal silver jewelry cleaners are totally gone from the market,” said Thony Dizon, coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

“We further hope that violators are formally charged in courts and duly penalized,” he added.

The EcoWaste Coalition reiterated a warning from the Environmental Management Bureau stating “the risk that these jewelry cleaners containing cyanide pose to public health is extremely high" and thus justifying the need for strong police action against violators.

Based on the monitoring of the EcoWaste Coalition, nine cases of fatal ingestion of silver jewelry cleaner were reported in the media from December 2010 to February 2011. Seven of the fatalities deliberately drank to commit suicide.

Among the silver poisoning victims in December 2010 were Rea Patricio, 14-year old of Navotas City who died on December 8; Manny Bacani, 2, Muntinlupa City, December 16; and Marissa Ruega, 19, Caloocan City, December 19.

The other fatalities in 2011 include Armando Fabon, 47, Caloocan City, January 11; Christine Gomez, 2, Santiago City, Isabela, February 2; Jenny Rose Aspe, 17, Tondo, Manila, February 2; Jade Dinero, 39, Caloocan City, February 3; Mary Jane Sahi, 27, February 21; and Hyacinth Hermoso, 35, who died on 24 February.

-end-

04 March 2011

Manila Police Lauded for Stopping Illegal Sale of Banned Silver Jewelry Cleaner

The Philippine National Police (PNP) drew applause from environmental and health advocates for their speedy action to stop the illegal sale of poisonous silver jewelry cleaning products.

The EcoWaste Coalition lauded Police Superintendent James Afalla, Station Commander of Central Market Sta. Cruz Police Station, for acting upon the group’s request for law enforcement action against shops and vendors selling banned silver jewerly cleaner.

“We commend the PNP, particularly Police Station 3 of Manila, for their swift action against illegal silver cleaning products that pose a direct assault to public health and safety. Sustained police action is key to saving lives from this toxic threat,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

Last Tuesday, Police Superintendent Afalla and members of Police Station 3 swooped down on Carriedo and Villalobos Streets in Quiapo and, pursuant to the Joint DOH-DENR Advisory 2010-001, confiscated 18 pieces of unregistered silver jewely cleaner.

The Joint Advisory signed by Health Secretary Enrique Ona and Environment Secretary Ramon Paje prohibits the sale of unregistered and unlabelled silver jewelry cleaner containing toxic substances, including cyanide, a deadly poison.

The items seized mostly from silver jewelry shops were subsequently turned over to the evidence custodian of Police Station 3 for proper disposition.

“They were educated about the effects of silver cleaner to human health. Likewise, we distributed copies of the aforesaid law for reiteration and for widest dissemination,” wrote Police Superintendent Afalla to the EcoWaste Coalition.

In his letter, Police Superintendent Capalla also affirmed continuing police action to safeguard the public from toxic harm linked to silver cleaner.

“Rest assured that this Police Station supports your campaign for the implementation of the DOH-DENR advisory and will continue to conduct extensive police operations to rid the market of banned silver jewelry cleaners,” he said.

The EcoWaste Coalition had earlier appealed to PNP Director General Raul Bacalzo for police action to halt the injuries and deaths arising from the accidental or suicidal intake of banned silver jewelry cleaning agent.

Manufacturers and distributors of silver jewelry cleaning agents, which fall under the category of "household hazardous substance," are required by law to register their products with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before these can be lawfully sold in the market.

According to a list obtained by the EcoWaste Coalition from the FDA last February 22, 2011, only the following brands of "stainless/metal polish" are duly registered with the agency: 3M , Kiwi, Pledge, Primo, Suma Silver D8 Liquid Cleaner, Suma Stainless Steel Polish (for professional use only) and Activ M1 Instant Acid Silver Destainer (for industrial use only).
-end-

02 March 2011

Toxic Watchdog Calls on P-Noy to Follow EU Ban on BPA-Laced Baby Bottles

A non-governmental organization campaigning for chemical safety has asked President Benigno S. Aquino III (P-Noy) to initiate the recall of baby feeding bottles containing bisphenol A (BPA), a toxic substance.

The EcoWaste Coalition urged P-Noy to direct the removal of toxic baby bottles from store shelves following a historic action by the European Union to prohibit the manufacture of baby bottles with BPA starting March 1, 2011.

Under the European Commission Directive 2011/8/EU, member states shall prohibit from March 1, 2011 the manufacture of BPA-containing baby bottles, as well as prohibit from June 1, 2011 the placing on the EU market of BPA-added plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with foodstuffs.

“We call upon P-Noy to follow the EU example and waste no time in banning BPA-laced baby bottles from being produced and traded in the country,” said breastfeeding advocate Velvet Roxas of Arugaan, a Steering Committee member of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“P-Noy, just like the Europeans, can invoke the precautionary principle in justifying tough action against BPA to protect helpless babies and toddlers from being exposed to this substance,” she emphasized.

“Simultaneous with the recall of BPA baby bottles, we beg for a more vigorous promotion of breastfeeding to ensure infant access to breastmilk, the most complete and ecological baby food,” she added.

BPA is an industrial chemical widely used in the production of polycarbonate plastics, which are then used to produce plastic products (marked on the bottom with letters "PC" or number "7") such as infant feeding bottles, water bottles and food containers

Health experts and activists, the EcoWaste Coalition said, are concerned about the adverse effects of BPA, which can leach out of plastic products when heated.

A known endocrine disruptor, BPA can imitate or interfere with natural hormone functions and potentially harm the development of young children.

Last Friday, the European Commission (EC) in a press release said that “small amounts of BPA can be released from plastic containers into the food they carry –in the case of baby bottles that would be infant formula– if these containers are heated at high temperatures.”

“The infants' system is still building up to eliminate BPA during the first six months of their lives. Their exposure to the substance is the highest during this period especially if infant formula is their only source of nutrition as this is administered through baby bottles,” the EC stated.

In the said press release, the Commissioner in charge of Health and Consumer Policy John Dalli said: "March 1 represents a landmark in our efforts to protect better the health of EU citizens, in particular when it comes to our children."

The EC acted on the basis of precautionary principle, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed, given the continuing debates on the safety of BPA, its health effects and at what levels of exposure these can occur.

As explained under the EC Directive 2011/8/EU, “the Commission is entitled to take a preventive measure regarding the use of BPA in polycarbonate infant feeding bottles on the basis of the precautionary principle which is applicable in a situation in which there is scientific uncertainty, even if the risk, notably to human health, has not yet been fully demonstrated. “

“Thus, it is necessary and appropriate for the achievement of the basic objective of ensuring a high level of human health protection to obviate sources of danger to physical and mental health that may be caused to infants by BPA exposure through feeding bottles,” the Directive said.

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References:

European Commission Press Release, 25 February 2011:
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/11/229&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en


European Commission Directive 2011/8/EU, 28 January 2011:
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2011:026:0011:0014:EN:PDF

01 March 2011

Environmental Groups Urge LGUs to Extinguish Fires from Open Burning


Environmental groups press local government units (LGUs) to seriously enforce the prohibiiton against open burning to conserve resources and curb toxic pollution.

EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) jointly push for the stringent implementation of the open burning ban under Republic Act 9003 and Republic 8749 as the whole nation observes the “Fire Prevention Month” this March.

"With public support, the LGUs can extinguish these often-ignored 'small' but similarly detrimental fires from the open burning of waste materials," the groups said.

Both R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and R.A. 8749, the Clean Air Act, prohibit open burning of waste materials to address the decline of environmental quality, which directly impacts public health.

“Despite clear and explicit proscriptions under our foremost environmental laws, we still find open burning practised with impunity in both rural and urban areas,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We see valuable resources, such as materials that can be re-used, recycled or composted, transformed into noxious fumes and ashes in disposal sites, farms, street corners, backyards and even in parks," he lamented.

On top of being wasteful, open burning produces a cocktail of health-damaging chemicals depending on what is burned.

“Unknown to many, open burning is a menacing ‘toxic monster,’ unleashing minuscule contaminants that endanger community health, especially the health of young children, the elderly and others with sensitivity to chemicals,” said Manny Calonzo, Co-Coordinator, GAIA.

Contaminants from open burning can include tiny airborne particulates, greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, persistent organic pollutants like dioxins and furans, heavy metals such as lead and mercury, halogenated carbons, and volatile organic compounds.

One family of chemicals of interest to the EcoWaste Coalition and GAIA are dioxins, the "most toxic manmade chemical known," that are formed and released when waste containing chlorine, such as chlorinated plastic packaging materials, is burned.

In a factsheet co-authored by the EcoWaste Coalition with GAIA, the groups listed several reproductive, developmental and other serious health effects such as cancers that are associated with dioxin and furan exposure.

Among these effects are reduced sperm counts, reduced size of genitals, decreased fertility, birth defects, hormone disruption, immune system disruption, increased susceptibility to bacterial, viral and parasitic diseases, several types of cancer and damage to the liver and other vital organs.

To prevent exposure to dioxins and furans, both groups urged the public to avoid burning their discards and instead adopt the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), avoid products made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, and regulate consumption of meat and dairy products since dioxins dissolve and accumulate in fatty tissues.

The groups also urged the public to be aware of other potential sources of dioxins and furans in their communities, such as waste incinerators, cement kilns firing hazardous waste and industrial processes using elemental chlorine, and seek preventive measures to cut emissions.

The groups further reiterated that R.A. 9003 and R.A. 8749 provide clear, adequate and strong basis for heightened LGU action against open burning.

R.A. 9003 bans the open burning of solid waste as in the case of traditional “siga” and penalizes violators with a fine ranging from P300 to P1,000, or a one to 15-day imprisonment, or both.

R.A. 8749 states that “no person, establishment, firm, company, government or private entity or organizations shall be allowed to burn or cause open burning of waste materials in their premises, area of jurisdiction, including recognized or unrecognized dumpsites in any quality or quantity.”

The “waste materials” referred to under R.A. 8749 cover “plastic, polyvinyl chloride, polypropylene, paints, ink, wastes containing heavy metals, organic chemicals, petroleum related compound, industrial wastes, ozone depleting substances and other similar toxic and hazardous substances.”

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References:

Chapter VI, Section 48, R.A. 9003 re prohibiton, fine and penalty against open burning:
http://www.chanrobles.com/republicactno9003.htm


Part VII, Rule XXV, Section 13, R.A. 8749 re open burning:
http://www.chanrobles.com/philippinecleanairact.htm