30 June 2011

P-Noy Gets Low Grade for Slack Pace in Solving Garbage Woes





"Permanently Closed" Open Dumpsite, Sitio Mulawing Bata, Barangay Tarcan, Baliuag, Bulacan
Photos courtesy of Bangon Kalikasan Movement



Environmental, climate and health justice groups today released a report card revealing a lackluster performance by the government in the field of waste prevention and reduction in its first year in office.

Over 50 groups affiliated with the EcoWaste Coalition, a grassroots environmental network, expressed dissatisfaction with the inadequate headship by President Benigno S. Aquino III in solving the nation’s longstanding battle against garbage.

Through a 12-point questionnaire, the groups, many of whom have a long history of fighting the corruption-riddled “hakot-tambak” (collect-dump) system of managing discards and promoting eco-solutions, rated P-Noy’s performance, lamenting the failure of his government to shut down polluting dumpsites and overturn costly obsession with technology fixes such as landfills and incinerators.

“For not showing decisive interest, leadership and action in preventing and reducing garbage and all its attendant problems, we give the Executive Department headed by the President an overall grade of 2.65 points out of 10,” stated Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

The Aquino administration ranked lowest in terms of integrating waste pickers in ecological solid waste management programs, in enforcing the ban on waste incineration, in prohibiting the open burning of discards, in disallowing the entry of toxic waste and in ensuring the environmentally-sound management of hazardous waste materials such as electronic waste, and in directing the closure, cleanup and rehabilitation of illegal dumpsites.

“This is not to put down the President, but to notify him about the severity of the problems and persuade him to urgently delve into green governance issues such as zero waste resource management,” he clarified.

“For sure, there were some environmental pronouncements and initiatives during the past 12 months, but we frankly expect more from P-Noy because he has an outstanding social contract with the Filipino people ,” he emphasized.

To demonstrate his determination to keep our communities and ecosystems safe from garbage and pollution, the EcoWaste Coalition asked P-Noy to chair at least one full meeting of the National Solid Waste Management Commission, which is under the Office of the President, secure its budget and set its direction, prioritizing the calling for public consultation in coming up with the list of non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging, as required by R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

It is imperative likewise for the President to exercise his supervisory power and authority over the local government units, as the prime enforcers of R.A. 9003, and unhesitatingly hold fully accountable the laggards among the local chief executivesin the no-nonsense implementation of the law.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which is under the power of control of the President, should already close the illegal dumpsites all over the country.

To ensure wide participation of the people, DENR should likewise subject proposed regulatory measures to a public comment period for at least 60 days.

“We’re not losing hope and we look forward to a better-looking report card next year for the sake of Mother Earth and our people,” Alvarez added.

Here’s P-Noy report card on waste and pollution issues, 10 points being the highest grade possible:

1. For not voicing his support loud enough towards a “litter-free Pilipinas,” the President collected 3.06 points.

2. For failing to stop the wasteful and polluting practice of open burning, the government obtained 2.40 points.

3. For letting incinerator “monsters” destroy resources and pollute communities, government regulators received 2.24 points.

4. For the lax enforcement of the required sorting of reusable, recyclable, compostable and residual discards at source, the national and local authorities earned 2.88 points.

5. For not taking resolute action to close, clean up and rehabilitate some 790 open dumpsites and 382 controlled dumpsites, and for not establishing enough materials recovery facilities or ecology centers to replace these pollution hotspots, the government got 2.50 points.

6. For allowing the construction and operation dirty disposal technologies in environmentally-critical places such as the Marikina watershed area in Sierra Madre, the government gathered 2.66 points.

7. For the inactive promotion of composting as the best approach to managing organics, the authorities got 3.08 points.

8. For the slow progress in including waste pickers in formal waste management programs, the government got the lowest mark at 2.18 points.

9. For the sluggish action to ban the production, distribution or use of “non-environmentally acceptable packaging materials,” the authorities collected 2.58 points.

10. For failing to curb the entry of toxic waste and ensure the environmentally-sound management of hazardous waste such as electronic waste, the government got 2.46 points.

11. For the ineffective public information and education on ecological waste management, the government received 3.16 points.

12. And lastly, for not pushing Zero Waste enough as a concrete pollution, climate and unemployment solution, P-Noy and his administration received 2.58 points.

-end-

29 June 2011

Makati City Urged to Widen Mercury-Free Drive





(Photos by Manny Calonzo)


An environmental watchdog has commended the government of Makati City for its pioneering initiative to make the country’s premier business and financial capital “mercury-free.”

“Makati’s effort to raise public awareness about the need for environmentally-sound management of mercury-containing lamp waste is a feat worth replicating by other local government units,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“We urge the Makati authorities to expand and sustain this beneficial program beyond the June to September 2011 timeframe to make it truly effective,” he said.

“We also hope to see Makati introducing more trailblazing measures to keep the city’s homes, schools, businesses, clinics and hospitals free from mercury hazards,” he suggested.

Makati City, in partnership with Zuelling Building, has so far collected 1.58 tons of discarded lamps and batteries that were deposited in custom-built recycling bins located at the Makati City Hall in Barangay Poblacion, Zuellig Building in Makati Avenue corner Paseo de Roxas and in the Barangay Urdaneta office.

The spent lamps are then sent to a government-accredited treatment, storage and disposal facility located in Marilao, Bulacan for proper resource recycling.

To make the program more accessible to Makati’s nearly 600,000 residents, the EcoWaste Coalition has requested Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay to install more lamp recycling bins in the city’s 33 barangays.

“Apart from the barangay halls, we suggest putting secured lamp recycling bins in other places frequented by the public such as in churches, markets and schools,” Dizon stated.

“It will surely help if the City Council will pass the first-ever ordinance establishing a system for environmentally-sound management of mercury-containing lamp waste to prevent mercury contamination of regular trash,” he pointed out.

“Such a system would necessitate, among other essentials, a sustained public information drive, the integration of the city’s informal recyclers such as the waste pickers into the scheme and the imposition of fines and penalties for improper lamp waste disposal,” he added.

To make Makati City “mercury-free,” the EcoWaste Coalition urged Mayor Binay to seriously consider instituting other practical measures to curb mercury releases, particularly from intentional sources such as mercury in laboratories and schools, in cosmetics and in medical devices.

Specifically, these measures would include:

1. Ordering schools to remove and discontinue use of mercury compounds and mercury-containing equipment to prevent chemical spills;

2. Directing regular market surveillance to rid shops of banned personal care products such as mercury-tainted skin whitening creams; and

3. Auditing hospitals and clinics to check their compliance with the phase-out and storage of mercury in health care facilities.

“Makati City, we further hope, can push the government into adopting and enforcing effective national mercury control laws and regulations, as well as support the ongoing process for a comprehensive and robust global mercury treaty,” the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized.

Exposure to mercury, a heavy metal with chemical symbol “Hg,” can cause significant adverse health effects.

According to the United Nations Environment Program and the World Health Organization, “the primary targets for toxicity of mercury and mercury compounds are the nervous system, the kidneys, and the cardiovascular system.”

“Other systems that may be affected include the respiratory, gastrointestinal, hematologic, immune and reproductive systems,” the agencies said.

-end-

26 June 2011

Toxic Watchdog Gives Poison Prevention Tips to Protect Children's Health






To mark the National Poison Prevention Week (NPPW), a toxic watchdog today appealed to the public to take essential precautionary measures to avoid poisoning accidents that can endanger children’s health.

The NPPW is held annually every fourth week of June to raise public awareness on poison prevention as directed by Presidential Proclamation No. 1777, Series of 2009.

In a bid to inform citizens about chemical hazards and the practical ways to prevent poisoning, especially among children, members of the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol gathered in the vicinity of Mega Q-Mart (formerly known as the Nepa Q-Mart) along EDSA in Quezon City to disseminate vital information.

Holding big mock images of product containers that bear the toxic symbol of skull and cross bones, the AlerToxic Patrollers gave out leaflets entitled “Kalatas,” which is short for “Kamalayan sa Lason at Lunas” (Awareness on Poison and Cure), to shoppers.

“Kalatas” (Note) contains practical tips that parents, teachers and workplace managers will find useful to reduce, if not eliminate, chemical poisoning as a result of improper purchase, handling, use and storage of products containing harmful substances.

“The myriad of poisoning cases involving children due to the consumption or exposure to harmful products and substances should stir parents, as well as school administrators and teachers, into employing precautionary steps to stop such incidents,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Citing data from the 2010 annual report of the UP National Poison Management and Control Center (UPNPMCC), the EcoWaste Coalition reported that the top 10 poison agents in terms of in-patient referrals for pediatric age group are kerosene, caustics (for example, chlorine bleach), silver jewelry cleaners, pesticides (for example, insecticide lotion and spray and rat poison), ferrous sulfate, elemental mercury (for example, the silvery liquid in some thermometers), paint thinner, paracetamol, button cell batteries and benzodiazepines (psychoactive drugs).

“Many of the poisoning cases that have occurred in the past could have been prevented if only these common sense tips have been applied,” Dizon pointed out.

These poison prevention tips include:

1. Be a health and safety-conscious consumer: read the labels, demand chemical information and select non-toxic products.

2. Keep a record of hazardous and potentially hazardous products, as well as wastes, in your home, school or workplace such as cosmetics and toiletries, cleaning agents, automotive supplies, herbicides, pesticides and other products with added toxic chemicals.

3. Label chemicals and store them properly in a dry, locked or tamper-proof cabinet.

4. Ensure that chemicals are out of children’s and pets’ reach and far away from food and water. Do not store cleaning supplies with or near food items.

5. Follow the instructions for the safe handling, application and storage of products containing harmful substances, including directions for safe disposal.

6. Never mix chemicals unless specified in the instructions to avoid risky chemical reaction (for example, combining ammonia with bleach will yield poisonous gas).

7. Ensure chemicals are tightly capped and securely stored after use to avoid emission and spillage, and never leave them unattended.

8. Do not remove poisonous products from their original containers or packages and do not destroy product labels or inserts, which could contain life-saving information.

9. Never store chemicals in beverage or food containers as children tend to associate potable drink and edible food with some containers.

10. Do not place ant, roach and rat poisons on the floors that children can mistakenly ingest. Try non-chemical alternatives to get rid of household pests.

11. Keep medicines duly labeled and stored in child-proof containers and cabinets, and check the labels and expiry dates before taking them. Refrain from taking medicines in front of kids as they tend to mimic what adults do. Kids should not be told that medicine is a candy.

12. Dispose of used button cell batteries properly and keep the unused ones far from children's reach.

13. Have a first-aid kit ready and accessible in case of an emergency.

14. Regularly wash or clean children’s hands, toys and other items and places frequently used by kids to minimize potential exposure to lead and other harmful chemicals.

15. Know where to call or get help in the event of suspected or actual poisoning. Call or visit a doctor at once and be sure to keep the original container of the ingested substance for reference. You may also contact the UPNPMCC at the following numbers:

02-5241078
02-5548400 loc 2311
0922-8961541

-end-

25 June 2011

PH Groups Join Global Call to Resolve Minamata Tragedy before Mercury Treaty Named for Victims

Over 200 civil society groups from 70 countries, including over 35 from the Philippines, have asked the Government of Japan to resolve a 55-year old struggle for justice by Minamata mercury pollution victims and survivors.

Through the "Honoring Minamata" statement, the groups insisted that the still ongoing tragedy must be properly addressed by the Government of Japan and the Chisso Corporation before the global mercury treaty can take the name the Minamata Convention in 2013.

A Chisso Corporation plant producing the chemical acetaldehyde using a mercury catalyzed process irresponsibly discharged wastewater tainted with methyl mercury into the Minamata Bay in Kumamoto Prefecture from 1932-1968, causing what is now called the “Minamata disease” among people who ate the contaminated fish and other seafood.

The Japanese government is set to holds meetings on June 26 in Minamata to explain why the new mercury treaty should be named the Minamata Convention, triggering civil society groups around the world to express support for the Minamata victims and survivors.

“We call on the Government of Japan to make a public commitment to resolving the tragedy and to take concrete steps toward a genuine resolution of the tragedy before the treaty is finalized in 2013,” said Mariann Lloyd-Smith, IPEN co-chair. “After 55 years of struggling, we stand in solidarity with the Minamata victims’ groups in calling for a genuine resolution of the problem.”

“Naming the global mercury control treaty the Minamata Convention directly connects the treaty
to the tragedy,” said Olga Speranskaya, IPEN co-chair. “If the treaty has this name, then the victims and their legitimate demands must be honored and the lessons of the Minamata tragedy must be applied to the treaty.”

In 2010, then Prime Minister Hatoyama proposed naming the mercury treaty the Minamata Convention, though the proposal was not discussed with Minamata groups prior to its announcement.

As victims of the Fukushima tragedy mount, the Minamata disaster may provide important lessons about compensation, clean-up, and polluter pays, the groups said.

In January 2011, Minamata victims and supporter groups released a statement on the tragedy at the global mercury treaty negotiation meeting in Chiba, Japan calling on the government to take authentic steps towards its resolution.

Among the local groups that have supported the "Honoring Minamata" statement were Alaga LAHAT, Alliance of Progressive Labor, Alyansa Tigil Mina, Ang Nars, Arugaan, Ban Toxics, Bangon Kalikasan Movement, Buklod Tao, Inc., Cavite Green Coalition, Citizens’ Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, Consumer Rights for Safe Food, Ecological Society of the Philippines, EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.

Also signing were Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Green Stage Filipinas- Maskara, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance – Philippines, Health Care Without Harm Southeast Asia, Institute for Educational and Ecological Alternatives, Interface Development Interventions, International Academy for Oral Medicine and Toxicology- Asia, Kinaiyahan Foundation, Krusada sa Kalikasan, Ministry of Ecology of Risen Christ Parish (Silang, Cavite) and Miriam P.E.A.C.E.

The other signatories were Mother Earth Foundation, Order of Friars Minor – Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, People’s Alternative Study Center for Research and Education in Social Development Inc., Pesticide Action Network Philippines, Philippine Earth Justice Center, Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society, Inc., Sanib Lakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod ng Inang Kalikasan, Save Sierra Madre Network and the Soljuspax.

-end-

Reference:

http://ipen.org/minamata/

22 June 2011

Groups Urge Authorities to Stand By the Pollution Prevention Goal of the Clean AIr Act, Enforce the Incineration Ban

As the nation marks today the 12th anniversary of the signing of Republic Act 8749, campaigners for health, environmental and climate justice urged national and local authorities to duly enforce the ban on waste incineration.

In a common statement, the EcoWaste Coalition, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and the Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) pressed lead government agencies such as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Health, the Department of Science and Technology, as well as local government units (LGUs), to be faithful with the spirit and intent of the law.

Signed by then President Joseph Estrada, R.A. 8749, or the Clean Air Act of 1999, is a wide-ranging air quality management law that seeks to protect the right of every person to breathe clean air by curbing emissions from various pollution sources.

Among the pollution prevention and reduction measures enshrined in R.A. 8749 is the ban on incinerators, which fall under the category of stationary sources of air pollutants, that "emit toxic and poisonous fumes."

“For the nth time, we urge those accountable for bringing into fruition the promise of safe and healthy environment under R.A. 8749 not to be remiss in their duty of enforcing the incineration ban,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Despite the availability of economical and environmentally-safe methods of discards management, we are stunned to find public officials from Benguet to Butuan lured into patronizing costly incinerators peddled as viable solutions to garbage woes,” noted GAIA campaigner Paeng Lopez.

“Even some health officials seem to be oblivious to the fact that healthcare waste incineration is out-of-date given the commercial accessibility to different types and sizes of non-burn technologies, such as autoclave and microwave, for killing pathogens in infected waste,” stated Merci Ferrer, Director, HCWH-Southeast Asia.

The groups asked institutions and LGUs being targeted by incinerator vendors to focus their time, energy and financial resources in fully implementing waste prevention and reduction programs, accompanied with active public information and education drive.

Such programs, according to the groups, must include segregation at source, reusing, recycling and composting, as well as other methods for cutting the volume and toxicity of discards, including “upstream” approaches like clean production and extended producer responsibility.

“Any time incinerator peddlers throw scifi-sounding nouns and adjectives to go along words such as plasma, gasification, or pyrolysis to make their technologies sound hi-tech, please remember that those are fundamentally incinerators in varying disguises,” added Lopez.

The groups emphasized that the ban on waste incineration, which has been reaffirmed in another law (R.A. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000), is a valuable environmental policy that has, among others, prevented valuable materials from being turned into toxic ash, reduced the discharge of harmful by-products from combustion processes, and averted the squander of public money for costly, imported and superfluous materials destruction technology.

Citing the GAIA factsheet on “Incinerators: Myths and Facts,” the groups reiterated the following points debunking the safeness and soundness of garbage incinerators:

1. Municipal waste is non-renewable, consisting of discarded materials such as paper, plastic and glass that are derived from finite natural resources such as forests that are being depleted at unsustainable rates.

2. All incinerators pose considerable risk to the health and environment of frontline communities as well as that of the general population. Even the most technologically advanced incinerators release thousands of pollutants that contaminate our air, soil and water.

3.Burning waste contributes to climate change since incinerators emit more carbon dioxide (CO2) per unit of electricity (2988 lbs/MWh) than coal-fired power plants. (2249 lbs/MWh).

4.All incinerators are a massive waste of energy. Due to the low calorific value of waste, incinerators are only able to capture small amounts of energy while destroying large amounts of reusable materials.

5.Incinerators burn local jobs, requiring huge capital investment, but they offer relatively few jobs when compared to recycling.

-end-

References:

http://www.chanrobles.com/philippinecleanairact.htm

http://www.no-burn.org/incinerators-myths-vs-facts-1

20 June 2011

10 Metric Tons of Banned Poison Sitting in Bulacan Warehouse

As the National Poison Prevention Week (NPPW) is observed starting today, a toxic watchdog has asked the government to order the removal of 10 metric tons of highly hazardous pesticide that has long been sitting in a private warehouse in Bulacan.

Held every fourth week of June by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 1777 of 2009, the NPPW seeks to promote public awareness about poison prevention at home, school, workplace and the general environment.

The call made by the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network pushing for chemical safety, also coincided with the third anniversary of the infamous MV Princess of the Stars maritime disaster.

MV Princess of the Stars sank off the municipality of San Fernando in Romblon Province on June 21, 2008 at the height of typhoon Frank while en route to Cebu, drowning hundreds of passengers and bringing down dangerous goods such as the endosulfan that the passenger boat was illegally transporting.

“Three years on and we still see no closure for the victims’ families, especially for those who are still waiting for the remains of their kins to be finally retrieved and buried,” lamented Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“While the Del Monte-owned endosulfan shipment has been reclaimed from the ill-fated ship in October 2008, the pesticide, now targeted for global elimination, has yet to be safely disposed of,” he added.

As confirmed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) to the EcoWaste Coalition, the endosulfan stocks are being kept in the warehouse of Vertical Fertilizer Chemical Corporation in Meycauayan, Bulacan.

“As the country observes the poison consciousness and avoidance week, we again ask the authorities to order the removal and environmentally-sound disposal of the endosulfan stocks store in Bulacan, once and for all,” he stressed.

“Please do not wait for another chemical poison disaster to happen before you act,” he pleaded.

Delegates meeting at the fifth Conference of Parties (COP5) of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) last April 2011 have decided to list endosulfan under Annex A of the treaty for global elimination, subject to specific exemptions.

Since the shocking discovery of endosulfan consignments in the sunken ship, the EcoWaste Coalition and other Bantay Endosulfan groups have asked the authorities to immediately return the shipment to its Israeli manufacturer.

Responding to Bantay Endosulfan’s plea, then DOTC Undersecretary Maria Elena Bautista wrote to the groups on September 11, 2008 saying that “Del Monte Phils., as consignee and supposed owner of the cargo intends to ship back said chemical to its manufacturer in Israel.”

In another letter sent to Bantay Endosulfan, Bautista on November 20, 2008 said “that the endosulfan is now under the custody of the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (which) has been ordered to return the endosulfan to its owner Makhteshim Chemicals Ltd.”

-end-

19 June 2011

EcoWaste Coalition Pleased with "Litterless" Run for Rizal

(Photos by Manny Calonzo)

A waste and pollution watchdog has expressed delight over the “litterless” fun run held this morning in celebration of the 150th birthday of Dr. Jose Rizal.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a public interest network campaigning for a “litter-free Pilipinas,” commended the organizers and participants for demonstrating admirable environmental discipline and responsibility in such a historic event.

Organized by the Department of Education (DepEd), the “Takbo ni Pepe@150” drew thousands upon thousands of young people who came to honor the national hero and also to support the government’s resource mobilization drive for public schools.

“We congratulate DepEd and all the participating schools and students for keeping the event litterless as they walked and ran in memory of Rizal and in support of the public school system,” stated Manny Calonzo, EcoWaste Coalition’s Basura Patroller who monitored the event.

“Compared to other mass events held in Rizal Park, the fun run did not blight the area with too much garbage,” he observed.

“For sure there were some litterbugs among the participants, representing a tiny fraction of the runners and leaving only patches of littered candy and snack wrappers,” he noted.

“Although not totally litter-free, we’re pleased to see that the participants did not leave a big mess along the route, particularly in Rizal Park” he further said.

Littering is a serious environmental offense that is not only making a place looks bad, noted the EcoWaste Coalition.

Littering also causes a host of negative effects to public hygiene and sanitation, drainage management and flood control and wildlife protection, while consuming hordes of public funds for cleanup, the group emphasized.

Section 48 of Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, prohibits the dumping of waste matters in public places such as roads, sidewalks, canals, esteros, parks and establishments.

Violators upon conviction can be fined P300 to P1,000 or render 1 to 15-day community service, or both, according to the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9003.

Under the Metro Manila Development Authority’s “Metro Ko, Love Ko” program launched in February 2011, 48,740 litterbugs have been apprehended by the agency’s environmental police as of June 16 as reported in the MMDA’s website.

-end-

References:
R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000:
http://www.chanrobles.com/republicactno9003.htm

MMDA Data on total number of anti-littering law apprehensions:
http://www.mmda.gov.ph/index.html











17 June 2011

Green Group Lauds Cancellation of Mass Release of Balloons to Mark Rizal's Birthday


A waste and pollution watchdog has commended the Instituto Cervantes for calling off the mass release of balloons to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal.

The Instituto Cervantes, which is promoting the teaching, study and use of Spanish as a second language, was at first planning to release this Saturday 150 balloons with excerpts from a Rizal’s poem inside, coinciding with the celebration of the International Spanish Day.

The Instituto Cervantes confirmed with the EcoWaste Coalition last Thursday that they would no longer release balloons in deference to some comments received.

The EcoWaste Coalition, which has earlier cited the national hero for his role in promoting community health and environment, lauded the Instituto Cervantes for being sensitive to public opinion.

"We thank and praise the Instituto Cervantes for listening to people’s suggestions to scrap the mass release of balloons to prevent the possibility of the balloons littering the Manila Bay,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We trust that other event organizers will follow suit and celebrate Rizal’s heroism in more environment-friendly ways that will not create trash and endanger the lives of helpless marine creatures,” he stated.

“Rizal, an ichthyologist who had collected 38 new varieties of fish during his exile in Dapitan, would surely not mind missing the balloons for the health and safety of marine life,” Alvarez said.

"While latex baloons that descend to the sea will biodegrade over time, the process of degradation can last for months during which marine animals can ingest them, blocking their digestive systems and starving them to death,” the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized.

Citing a factsheet published by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) of UK, the EcoWaste Coalition said that balloons “can become a serious form of marine pollution” that “may last many months with potentially harmful consequences.”

“A long list of marine creatures have been reported with balloons in their stomachs. It is believed that they mistake balloons and other buoyant plastics for their natural prey ,e.g. jellyfish and squid, and eat them,” the MCS said.

The string tied to balloons is a particular problem as they can lead to entanglement, the MCS also warned.

-end-


Reference:

MCS Pollution Factsheet on Balloon Releases:
http://www.ukrivers.net/balloon_fact.html

16 June 2011

Eco-group calls for a chemical-free, ecological farming


15 June 2011, Quezon City. An eco-group has urged Filipinos, especially our nation’s farmers, to switch from synthetic chemical-based farming into natural, chemical-free farming.

“The transition has to take effect fast as we badly need to restore the health and fertility of our farms that are being tormented by the indiscriminate use of synthetic fertilizer and pesticide inputs,” Bernie Aragoza, chair of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force on Ecological Agriculture.

The group aired this plea at its recent seminar on ecological farming in Quezon City that brought together urban and rural leaders from different community groups in Bataan, Cavite, Laguna, Nueva Ecija, Rizal and Metro Manila.

Participants of the seminar learned about the simple, low-cost and effective ways of doing homemade garden concoctions as substitutes to chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the employment of beneficial microorganisms and the cultivation of food crops in clay pots or recycled containers for space-challenged homes, barangays, schools and churches.

According to Aragoza, transitioning from use of agro-chemical inputs to natural and ecological farming will bring about other benefits, including ensuring safe produce, protecting water resources from chemical runoffs, and saving money from costly chemical inputs.

“In lieu of synthetic chemicals, we can make concoctions out of alternative raw and natural materials that can serve many purposes such as for nitrogen fixing, controlling pests, enriching the soil, and inducing the growth and flowering of plants and trees. These alternative materials are many, cost almost nothing and mostly available in backyards and in kitchen waste like left-over cooked rice, ripe papaya, garlic or ginger, and fish bones, intestines or gills,” Aragoza suggested.

“By making use of these alternative materials, we also reduce our household biodegradable waste and prevent the formation of greenhouse gases by diverting organics away from dumpsites,” he said.

The participants of the seminar are community leaders from Batangas Dos Fishermen’s Association, Brahma Kumaris, Bukid sa Himpapawid, Cavite Green Coalition- Ministri ng Pamamahala sa Kalikasan, Citizens’ Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, Franciscan Movement for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation-Fellowship for the Care of Creation, Kupkop Kita Kabayan Foundation, Nagkakaisang Mananambakan ng Dumpsite Area, Inc., Sagip Pasig Movement and Sining Yapak.

Last year, Congress passed RA 10068, the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, to promote the practice of organic agriculture to increase farm productivity, aid in reducing pollution and destruction of the environment, and further protect the health of farmers, consumers and the general public, which the EcoWaste Coalition said should be widely supported.

Philippines Urged to Back Inclusion of Toxic Chemicals in Trade "Watch List"

Environmental health and justice advocates urged the Philippines to support the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos and six other “nasty” chemicals on an international trade “watch list”

The EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) pressed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the designated national authority for the Rotterdam Convention, to make a strong presence at the fifth Conference of Parties (COP5) to be held in Geneva, Switzerland from June 20 to 24.

“We appeal to our delegation at COP5 of the Rotterdam Convention to actively push for the listing of chrysotile asbestos and six other nasty chemicals that are known to pose unacceptable risk to public health and the environment in the treaty’s Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure,” said Manny Calonzo, who represented both the EcoWaste Coalition and GAIA in the two successive technical working group (TWG) meetings convened by the DENR.

The other chemicals being recommended by the Rotterdam Convention’s Chemical Review Committee for inclusion in the “watch list” are endosulfan, azinphos methyl, gramaxone super, perfluorooctane sulfonate, pentabrominated diphenyl ether and octabrominated diphenyl ether.

“The inclusion of these chemicals in the ‘watch list’ will improve the national capacity to manage such chemicals, some of which are already targeted for global elimination, by exchanging information with other governments and by taking informed decisions whether to allow or deny the importation,” Calonzo added.

Under the Convention, a government of an exporting country is responsible for ensuring that no exports leave their jurisdiction when an importing country has made the decision not to accept chemicals on the "watch list."
Also, the exporting country will be required to notify the importing country about the hazards of such chemicals being traded and their proper handling to reduce health and environmental risks.

The recommendations to include the said chemicals are based on a review of national regulatory actions taken by concerned parties to the Rotterdam Convention.
During the last TWG held on June 14, environmental, health and labor agencies, along with environmental and trade union groups, presented the various arguments for the inclusion of chrysotile asbsestos in the PIC list.

According to a submission signed by Health Secretary Enrique Ona, “exposure to chrysotile asbestos increases the risk of asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma in a dose-dependent manner.”

Among other recommendations, health authorities propose the elimination of asbestos use, the adoption of preventive and safety measures in the removal of asbestos-containing materials and the formulation of technical and economic guidelines in the selection of safer substitutes to asbestos, including a comprehensive health and safety evaluation.
-end-

Reference:

Overview of the Rotterdam Convention:
http://www.pic.int/home.php?type=t&id=5&sid=16

15 June 2011

Government Urged to Adopt "Kid-Safe" Chemicals School Policy after Food Poisoning that Killed 2 Kinder Students

(Photos by Manny Calonzo)


The fatal food poisoning of two kindergarten pupils in a public school in Cagayan province should rouse the government into reviewing chemical safety practices and procedures in schools, a toxic watchdog said.

“We urge Education Secretary Armin Luistro to order a thorough probe of the dreadful incident and initiate a review of current chemicals policies and protocols in all schools to prevent a repeat of the tragic chemical error that claimed innocent lives in Tuguegarao City,” said Velvet Roxas, Steering Committee member of the EcoWaste Coalition.

Last Tuesday, 43 students and three teachers of Larion Bajo Elementary School in Tuguegarao City were rushed to the Cagayan Valley Medical Center due to a tragic food poisoning that killed two girls.

According to police and media reports, Eloisa Ballad and Jessica May Bangayan, both five years old, died after consuming a teacher-prepared “miki” noodles in the school canteen that was mistakenly “salted” with oxalic acid powder, a bleaching agent.

Oxalic powder, whose appearance and texture is similar to fine salt or refined sugar, is sold in the market at eighty pesos per kilo, confirmed an EcoWaste Coalition's "AlerToxic Patroller" who managed to buy a 1/4 kilo pack for twenty pesos this morning from vendors in Ylaya St., Divisoria, Manila.

Citing online material safety data sheet (MSDS) of oxalic acid, the EcoWaste Coalition said that the substance is very corrosive to the human body and may be fatal if inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through the skin.

“Inhalation of dust or mist may cause irritation or burns to upper respiratory system, nose, mouth or throat. Ingestion may cause irritation or burns to mouth throat or stomach. Contact with skin or eyes may cause irritation or burns,” the MSDS warns.

This latest incident of chemical poisoning should lead to the adoption and enforcement of a “kid-safe” chemicals policy, an integral component of a healthy school program, the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized.

Such policy should allow the use of only kid-safe chemicals and products in classrooms, laboratories, canteens, lavatories, gardens and also in school activities from the “Brigada Eskwela” clean-up to educational and cultural events.

On the other hand, it should disallow the use of chemicals that pose serious health threats to children, especially reproductive and developmental toxicants like lead, mercury and other chemicals of public health concern.

The envisioned policy should likewise promote the use of non-chemical alternative products and processes to minimize chemical use and exposure in classroom and out-of-classroom activities.

Also, the policy should incorporate chemical safety information to keep administrators, teachers, non-teaching personnel and the students informed and vigilant about chemical hazards, including precautions against chemical exposure and procedures in case of chemical spills and accidents.

-end-

Reference: Oxalic acid MSDS: http://www.sciencestuff.com/msds/C2193.html

13 June 2011

Environmentalists Hail Dr. Jose Rizal as Eco-Hero

In the lead up to the 150th birth anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal this Sunday, environmentalists today paid tribute to the national hero, citing his intimate love and concern for people and nature.

In a statement, the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network of over 125 public interest groups, honored Rizal for his many but often un-proclaimed contributions to community health and the environment.

“We pay homage to our national hero Jose Rizal for his keen devotion to improving community health and environment long before the Constitution formally committed to promoting and protecting the health and environmental rights of the people,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

The present Constitution of the Philippines declares the pursuit of the people’s “right to health” and the “right to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature” as state policies.

“We can find in Rizal the qualities and skills of an authentic Filipino who treasures our natural patrimony and uses the earth’s resources for the health and well-being of the people,” Alvarez emphasized.

As "the greatest product of the Philippines," in the words of his best friend Prof. Ferdinand Blumentritt, Rizal, an animal and plant lover, also excelled in many fields of environmental work, including as an agriculturist, botanist, conchologist, horticulturist, ichthyologist, sanitary engineer and zoologist.

The EcoWaste Coalition specifically pointed to Rizal’s vibrant life as a political exile from 1892 to 1896 in the town of Dapitan, now a thriving city with scenic beaches and hills in the province of Zamboanga del Norte.

As an environmental health and rural reconstruction champion of his era, Rizal carried out community projects in Dapitan that afforded the people with tangible health, sanitation and ecological benefits, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Among these projects were the aqueduct that Rizal engineered from a mountain stream that gave people of Dapitan access to clean water, the draining of swamps to control the breeding of malaria mosquitoes, the provision of street lighting system using coconut oil lamps, and the beautification of the town plaza.

Like today's herbalists, Rizal, who was also a physician specializing on eye diseases, studied locally-grown medicinal plants and have these prescribed to his poor patients to alleviate their health problems, the group noted.

An avid naturalist, or a person who studies “natural history,” Rizal collected samples of animals and plants from the forest and seashores, including an amazing collection of 346 shells consisting of 203 species, 38 new varieties of fish and some rare specimens that have been named after him such as the Apogonia rizali (a beetle), Draco rizali (a flying dragon) and Rhacophorus rizali (a frog).

Also, as a farmer, he planted and cared for hundreds of trees in Dapitan, including a very old dao tree that is still standing in the city, a living testament of Rizal’s passion for nature, the EcoWaste Coalition observed.

“As we mark his 150th birthday, we join our historians in inviting the entire nation, especially the youth, to rediscover and celebrate Rizal, particularly his unheralded service to the environment,” Alvarez stated.

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines, the government agency in charge of leading the 150th observance of Rizal’s birthday, has set “Rizal: Haligi ng Bayan” as the theme for the celebration.

-end-

References:

Rizal at 150 (1861-2011):
http://www.nhi.gov.ph/

Rizal's life as an exile in Dapitan:
http://dapitan.com/rizalsadapitaninsert.htm

Old dao tree that Rizal planted:
http://dapitan.com/rizaliana4.htm

11 June 2011

Freedom Day Eco-Advisory: Ten Green Action Points to Fix the Environment


To mark the country ‘s 113th Independence Day, an environmental watchdog has released a 10 easy-to-do “green list” that patriotic Filipinos can do to fix the environment.

“Reversing the deteriorating state of our natural resources and restoring ecosystem health is a huge challenge that we all can have a say in attaining or not,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We need not be in the halls of power to be able to make a difference since we all are children of Mother Earth and we ought to care for her,” he stated.

“As responsible citizens, let us cut our carbon imprints and together as one people strive to live in harmony with nature on which our existence depends,” he added.

Carbon imprint, also called carbon footprint, is a measure of the negative impact human activities have on the environment, and specifically on climate change.

To help in stopping environmental degradation and in restoring ecosystem health, the EcoWaste Coalition has come up with commonsensical suggestions for reducing carbon imprints.

“From this list, we hope that caring Filipinos will pick at least five personal actions to begin with and then do more to protect and conserve our environment,” Alvarez said.

“In fact, we should expand this list to include planting trees and cleaning rivers, stopping deleterious mining practices, taking part in governance issues, spreading eco-information, being eco-ethical and law-abiding and a lot more,” he pointed out.

“The reward for taking action is big – a greener and healthier nation for present and future generations of Filipinos,” he emphasized.

Here are some green action ideas from the EcoWaste Coalition for starters:

1. Keep the Philippines beautiful: litter not, dump not, burn not.

2. Kick the plastic bag habit: go for “bayong” and reusable bags and containers.

3. Be cautious about excess packaging; shun over-packaged products.

5. Ditch bottled water; opt for reusable water jug or container for clean tap water.

6. Reduce your waste size, segregate, reuse, recycle and live a simple, garbage-free lifestyle.

7. Compost biodegradable discards and keep compostables out of landfills.

8. Conserve water, fix leaky faucets and harvest rainwater.

9. Don’t leave appliances on standby; turn off and unplug all lights and electronic items not in use.

10. Quit smoking, reduce health risks and clear the environment of toxic cigarette smoke and filter.

In the meantime, the EcoWaste Coalition re-issued its “Climate Change Survival Guide,” which contains 100 “tips” for essential lifestyle changes amid the unfolding impacts of global warming and climate change.

09 June 2011

Don't Dump or Burn Toxic e-Waste (Green Groups Launch "e-Waste Action Now" Campaign and Film)







(Photos by Manny Calonzo)


In a public forum held today, entitled “The Dangers of Electronic Waste or e-Waste”, environmental groups cautioned the public of the toxic nature e-waste. The forum was organized by environmental justice groups Ban Toxics and the EcoWaste Coalition. The forum was in line with the start of school, as the group noted that an expected rise in the purchase of consumer electronics can be expected and called on the public to be mindful of the electronics they buy and the subsequent electronic waste or e-waste that they will produce.

E-waste contains a cocktail of toxic chemicals that are added to various parts of the electronic product. Phthalates, brominated flame retardants (BFR) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are often added to gadgets’ plastic housing and electrical wiring. Aside from possibly damaging the liver, lungs and kidney, phthalates are also suspected to cause infertility in males. On the other hand, both BFR and PVC are cancer-causing substances. In addition, poisonous metals like mercury and lead, both of which damage the nervous system and cause developmental disorders, are found in some television and computer screens.

In response to the e-waste problem and the lack of awareness of many Filipinos regarding the issue, Ban Toxics and the EcoWaste Coalition, with financial support from the Foundation for the Philippine Environment developed a short film entitled “the Vanishing E-Wastes of the Philippines,” that talks about the e-waste problem in the country and launched a nationwide network called e-Waste Action Now! (e-WAN).

Initiated by the EcoWaste Coalition, e-WAN includes diverse groups such as Ang Nars, Arugaan, Ban Toxics, Cavite Green Coalition, Concerned Citizens’ Organization Advocating for Philippine Environmental Sustainability, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Interface Development Interventions, Kinaiyahan Foundation, Office of the Committee on Parks and Playground, Wildlife, Ecology and Environmental Management of Cebu City Council, and the Philippine Earth Justice Center.

Richard Gutierrez, Executive Director of Ban Toxics, commented that “E-waste is an urgent topic of concern, especially for countries such as the Philippines, where discarded electronics from countries such as Japan and South Korea are exported as secondhand goods.” Gutierrez further noted that “e-Wastes contain toxic substances which may be released through improper use and recycling. It’s our responsibility to make sure that we don’t add to the growing mountain of e-waste in the country by buying gadgets which may potentially harm both human health and the environment.”

“Before anyone can take action, there must be a need for correct information to be available and made accessible,” explained Mr. Rei Panaligan, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition. “The complexity of the e-waste problem presented many challenges and we had to capture the nuances in this short film in order for people to understand the issue.”

During the forum, the over 70 participants recommended that consumers take the following steps to minimize e-waste:

1. Research. Know which companies produce safe and environmentally sustainable electronic gadgets. Visit websites such as those set up by Greenpeace particularly their Guide to Greener Electronics, a guide that ranks the top electronics manufacturers according to their policies on toxics, recycling, and climate change. The guide is available at http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/toxics/electronics/how-the-companies-line-up/.

2. Purchase electronics that have the “RoHS” logo. This means that the equipment complies with the European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive which means these do not contain mercury, lead, cadmium, chromium, polybrominated biphenyls, and polybrominated biphenyl ethers – common toxins found in electronic gadgets.

3. Buy energy-efficient electronic products. Look for the Energy Star or the energy efficiency ratio (EER).

4. Look for brands with good warranty and take-back policies.

5. Go for quality, not quantity! Avoid buying very cheap items in bulk. Most of these items will wear out after a few months. Also, the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT has found that 6 out of 7 cheap toys from bargain centers contain toxic plastic. Cheap does not necessarily mean good. Buying a product with good quality item is a much better investment, and better for the environment, too.

6. Look for electronics with rechargeable rather than disposable batteries.

“The message we are trying to convey is simple, the solution to the e-waste problem is in our hands,” explained Panaligan. “We are all generators of e-waste from simple consumers to companies and the government.”

“Although we are bombarded by e-wastes from within the Philippines and from outside, we can take action now. Choosing the right products, prohibiting toxic e-waste and not burning or dumping e-waste are sensible solutions to the e-waste crisis,” added Gutierrez.

-end-

07 June 2011

EcoWaste Coalition Pushes Composting of Fish Carcasses

As coastal communities in Batangas and Pangasinan struggle to clear their areas of rotting fish from the recent fish kill incidents, an environmental watchdog asked the authorities not to just bury the dead fish, but to compost them instead.

The EcoWaste Coalition on Tuesday urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to assist local government units (LGUs) to turn the stinking fish trash into sweet-smelling, nutrient-rich bio-fertilizers.

“As impacted LGUs and communities wrestle with tons of decomposing fish in cages and those along the shores, we urge the DA to turn the massive fish kill into an opportunity to produce compost that can be used by our farmers to enrich depleted soils,” said Bernie Aragoza of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force on Ecological Agriculture.

“We’re confident that our agriculture experts would be able to guide LGUs in selecting the most suitable composting system for the enormous fish kill discards, including 'botcha' fish seized from traders,” he added.

According to a June 4 update by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), a total of 108 fish cages were affected by the fish kill in Barangays Catubig and Culang, in Bolinao and in Barangays Awag, Mal-ong, Narra and Siapar in Anda, Pangasinan, with losses estimated at PhP 40,710,300.00.

The NDRMMC also reported that 360 units of fish cages were affected in the municipalities of Agoncillo, Laurel, San Nicolas and Talisay, Batangas, and in the open water of Alitagtag, Cuenca and Santa Teresita, Batangas, with approximate losses up to PhP142,530,000.00.

Fish kill episodes were also detected last Sunday in Lipa City and the municipality of Mataas na Kahoy, also in Batangas.
Citing information from the United State Geological Survey (USGS), the EcoWaste Coalition said that windrow composting may provide an effective option for the disposal of large numbers of dead fish from the various incidents.

USGS is a science organization that collects, monitors, analyzes, and provides scientific understanding about natural resource conditions, issues, and problems.

Windrow composting is a composting method characterized by the piling of biodegradable discards such as garden and farm waste and animal manure in long rows or windrows.

According to the USGS biological information and technology notes, windrow composting offers several advantages including the ability to dispose all the dead fish at once, contain carcasses and pathogens, and avoid the production of leachate.

“A large-scale composting operation that is properly designed and managed provides an excellent waste management alternative to traditional waste disposal,” the USGS said.

“The finished compost is an excellent source of nitrogen that is immediately available to crops, providing additional benefits,” it also said.

-end-

References:
NDRRMC Report:
http://www.ndcc.gov.ph/attachments/article/219/NDRRMC%20Update%20Sitrep%20No.%203%20Fish%20Kill%20in%20Regions%20I%20and%20IV-A,%204June2011,%206PM.pdf

USGS Notes:

http://pubs.usgs.gov/bitn/98-013/pdf/bitn98-013.pdf

03 June 2011

Toxic Watchdog Says "Salamat Po" to Taiwanese Food Safety Inspector






In celebration of the World Environment Day on June 5, the EcoWaste Coalition, a toxic watchdog, today gave a citation to the woman behind the massive recall of Taiwanese beverage and food products contaminated with a cancer-causing industrial chemical.

In a simple ceremony held outside the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Makati City, Taiwan’s de facto embassy in the Philippines, members of the EcoWaste Coalition gave “Mrs. Yang,” a Taiwanese food safety inspector, a “Salamat Po” award “for her perseverance in protecting the public good.” “Salamat po” is “thank you” in Filipino language.

Donning traditional Chinese costumes, the environmentalists commended the 52-year old employee of Taiwan’s Department of Health - Food and Drug Administration (DOH-FDA) for her professional dedication that led to the detection of di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), a toxic substance used as plasticizer, in some Taiwanese drinks and foods.

“Mrs. Yang” was identified by Lo Chi-fang, Secretary-General of DOH-FDA, as the person responsible for detecting the DEHP contamination, refusing to disclose "Mrs. Yang's" complete name to protect her privacy.

“In the face of the snowballing toxic food crisis in Taiwan, we take a breather to say ‘salamat po’ to ‘Mrs. Yang’ for her priceless service to public health and safety,” said retired nurse Elsie Brandes-De Veyra of the EcoWaste Coalition, which is campaigning for consumer access to information and for consumer protection against hazardous chemicals in goods.

“Through the faithful performance of her duty, Mrs. Yang has prevented the distribution and sale of more DEHP-tainted products in Taiwan and in importing countries like the Philippines, thus reducing consumer exposure to the cancer-causing DEHP, a toxic additive to plastics,” the EcoWaste Coalition said .

“Mrs. Yang’s meticulous and faithful performance of her job as a food safety inspector should be emulated by all public servants, especially by government officials and employees charged with ensuring that manufacturers and businesses fully comply with health and environmental laws such as those regulating chemical substances in products,” the group noted.

“Mrs. Yang is an exemplary model of a conscientious government regulator that every society needs in order to eliminate toxic threats to public health - particularly to the most vulnerable population groups - and the environment,” the group further stated.

“We hope her action will inspire increased consumer vigilance against toxic harm and bring about lasting chemical reforms in our societies, including the implementation of toxics use reduction and clean production, food traceability processes and good manufacturing audits, for the sake of public health and safety,” the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized.

At the same time, the EcoWaste Coalition lauded the decision by local food and drug regulators led by FDA Director Suzette Lazo to protect local consumers from DEHP exposure with the issuance of FDA Advisory 2011-008, which directs the immediate recall of tainted goods from Taiwan.

Citing data from the Taiwan FDA website, the EcoWaste Coalition reported that, as of May 31, a total of 746 products from 216 companies have been listed as contaminated with the toxic DEHP plasticizer.

Reference:

Info re "Mrs. Yang":
http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?id=20110525000069&cid=1603

Info re products contaminated with DEHP:
http://www.fda.gov.tw/eng/news.aspx?newssn=7679&classifysn=118

02 June 2011

DepEd Urged to Bolster Steps to Protect Kids from DEHP-Tainted Products

(Photo by Manny Calonzo)


With schools set to reopen next Monday, a toxic watchdog exhorted the Department of Education (DepEd) to initiate proactive measures that will protect students from health-damaging foods and drinks, especially blacklisted products from Taiwan.

“Now that we know which products from Taiwan are tainted with DEHP, we call upon our education officials to welcome the new academic year with an enthusiastic campaign on food safety," said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

The food safety awareness and action campaign, according to Alvarez, should be rolled out in collaboration with school administrators, teachers, non-teaching personnel, students, parents, and food service providers, concessionaires and vendors.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday released a tentative list of beverage and food products believed to be contaminated with di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate or DEHP, the dangerous chemical blamed for the still unfurling toxic food scandal in Taiwan.

“The campaign’s immediate objective should be to keep the tainted goods away from school canteens and snack kiosks, as well as convenience stores near schools,” Alvarez said.

“Just as important is the objective of educating parents, students and other stakeholders to shun unhealthy foods such as those laden with synthetic and toxic chemicals, and those high in fat, salt and sugar," he added.

School officials should instigate urgent dialogues with canteen operators and food concessionaires to ensure that no DEHP-tainted goods are used or offered for sale to students, the EcoWaste Coalition suggested.

Convenience stores should in no way sell recalled goods or sell high-risk products from Taiwan that have no safety certifications, the group emphasized.

The EcoWaste Coalition also stressed the importance of parents exercising their right to be inquisitive if only to ensure that their children are not fed with injurious stuff.

“You have the undeniable right to ask for full product details, secure safety guarantee for your kids and get the best value for your hard-earned money,” Alvarez said.

Some of the items in the FDA-issued list of DEHP-tainted products from Taiwan include fruit juices, fruit juice powders, fruit concentrates, fruit candies, fruit tablets, fruit powders, sports drinks, teas, jelly and yoghurt.

DEHP, a suspected carcinogen, can damage the kidneys, liver and lungs, and cause reproductive and developmental disorders such as underdeveloped penises and testicles in boys and early puberty in girls.

-end-