30 December 2012

Groups Call Attention to “Very Unhealthy” Air due to Firecrackers and Fireworks

As the countdown to the New Year approaches, various groups on Sunday drew attention to the health-damaging pollutants discharged from the blasting of firecrackers and fireworks.

In a bid to persuade the public to shift to an emission-free welcome of the New Year, the EcoWaste Coalition and the Our Lady of Remedies Parish Care for the Earth Ministry and Children’s Ministry held an“Iwas PapuToxic” campaign in front of the Malate Catholic Church that also saw doctors from the Philippine College of Chest Physicians and Philippine Medical Association attending.

As if in the midst of a chemical disaster, some of the children and youth participants wore authentic gas masks to illustrate how “very unhealthy” the air can turn with the warlike detonation of firecrackers and fireworks, especially during the New Year’s eve.

"The pervasive pollution is lamentable knowing that country's quest for clean air is yet to be won. A New Year's celebration promoting a clean and safe environment, the sanctity of life and a culture of peace is the call of the hour," said Father John Leydon, Parish Priest, Our Lady of Remedies Parish.

“The pyrotechnic explosions create a toxic brew of injurious pollutants affecting the air quality and consequently the health of people, particularly infants and young children and those afflicted with heart and respiratory diseases,” noted Aileen Lucero, Iwas PapuToxic Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The marked increase of particulate matter in the atmosphere can cause nose, throat, chest and eye problems and aggravate the conditions of people suffering from allergies, coughs and colds,” said Dr. Maricar Limpin, former President, Philippine College of Chest Physicians.

Exposure to firecrackers and fireworks can further cause a host of respiratory problems such as bronchial asthma, allergic or chronic bronchitis, laryngitis, pneumonia and rhinitis, Dr. Limpin, a pulmonologist said.

The groups expressed serious concern over a possible recurrence of the “very unhealthy” air quality as experienced by Metro Manila residents on January 1, 2012 in the aftermath of the last New Year’s revelry.

Citing data from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources–Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB), nine real time particulate matter (PM) monitoring stations exceeded the 24-hour guideline value of 150 ug/m3 on January 1, 2012. The average PM10 recorded was 352 ug/m3.

As for the total suspended particulate (TSP), eight of the nine monitoring stations went above the 24-hour guideline value of 230 ug/m3 on January 1, 2012. The average TSP recorded was 477.67 ug/m3.

According to the DENR-EMB, the prevailing weather condition during and after the 2012 New Year’s celebration, particularly the low ambient temperature, low wind velocity and low laying clouds, triggered the air pollution episode and even contributed to low visibility.

Since the PM10 and TSP levels have reached the “very unhealthy” levels as per the air quality index (AQI), the DENR-EMB should have, in accordance with the Clean Air Act, issued cautionary health statements that say: “Pedestrian should avoid heavy traffic areas. People with heart or respiratory disease such as asthma should stay indoors and rest as much as possible. Unnecessary trips should be postponed. People should voluntarily restrict the use of vehicles,” the groups noted.

Given the importance of informing the public about the state of air pollution and its impact to health, the groups urged the government to monitor the air quality on December 31 and January 1, disseminate the generated data and issue appropriate advisories based on the AQI cautionary statements.



“Iwas Paputok and Air Quality,” DOH, 2012.

“DOH Administrative Order 2011-0301” re“Health Advisory on the Potential Toxic Health Effects of Firecrackers and Pyrotechnics.”

29 December 2012

Animals and Animal Rights Advocates Join “Iwas PapuToxic” Drive

An “Iwas PapuToxic” get-together of humans and their pets in Quezon City added an “animal flavor” to the heightened efforts by the government and the civil society to dissuade the public to say no to firecrackers and fireworks.

Organized by the EcoWaste Coalition in collaboration with the Animal Kingdom Foundation, CARA Welfare Philippines, Pets for Peace and the Philippine Animal Welfare Society, the gathering of women, men and children and their furry and feathered friends centered on the theme “Be Kind to Animals.”

Held at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center, the animal rights and environmental health rights advocates voiced their common call for the public to turn away from the noisy and polluting tradition of greeting the New Year with ear-splitting sounds from firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices.

After the parade from Quezon Avenue to North Avenue, 21 youth artists from the Malikhaing Landas na Magpapayabong sa Sining at Kultura (Malaya) presented a short skit describing the ill effects of paputok to animals that concluded with an“Oppa Gangnam Style” dance led by performers donning cat and dog headgears.

“It is not only humans that are badly affected by the man-made chemicals, noise and waste pollution resulting from the explosion offirecrackers and pyrotechnics. Animals, particularly cats and dogs, suffer silently from the deafening mayhem,” said Aileen Lucero, Iwas PapuToxic Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Cats, dogs and other animals are gifted with highly receptive hearing that is no less than 10 times more sensitive than that of humans and firecracker explosions from Piccolo to Super Lolo can cause acoustic trauma for them,” explained Atty. Heidi Marquez-Caguioa, Legal Officer, Animal Kingdom Foundation.

“The fear and panic resulting from the firecracker noise can severely stress animals resulting to stomach upset, loss of appetite and tosome extent, decreased sense of direction that can result to animals getting lost or injured,” added Nancy Cu Unjieng, President, CARA Welfare Philippines. “By opting to usher in the New Year in an animal-friendly way, we promote love and respect not only for animals, but also for people and the environment,” said Willa Tecson, Executive Director, Pets for Peace.

“It is important for us to act responsibly and with compassion, so we do not endanger the health and well-being of animals with our festive celebration of New Year, which can be a very cruel experience for them,” Anna Cabrera, Executive Director, Philippine Animal Welfare Society.

The groups recommended the following tips to help animals survive the firecracker noise and injuries during the New Year’s Eve celebrations:

1. Persuade members of your household to make your home a “no firecracker” zone.

2. Politely tell your neighbors not to light or throw firecrackers near your home.

3. Exercise your pets during the days leading up to the New Year’s Eve and in the next morning when the festivities are over and the smoke has cleared.

4. Give your pets a physical outlet for their pent up energy due to arousal and stress.
5. Manage the environment so it is as relaxing as possible and as less stressful as you can make it.

6. Provide your pet with a safe place to take temporary refuge. If possible, allow your pet to stay in a quiet room such as a bedroom.

7. Close the windows, put the curtains down and play a relaxing music to neutralize the noise from the outside to help your pets feel secure.

8. Ensure your pet’s access to drinking water. Make her/him pee or poo.

9. Do not yell or laugh at your pet when she/he is cowering or shaking in fear. This is a natural response to a threat that they do not understand and cannot avoid.


28 December 2012

Watchdog Appeals to the Public Not to Trash Rizal Park

A waste and pollution watchdog sought the active cooperation of the public in keeping Rizal Park free of holiday trash, or what the group calls as "holitrash."

The EcoWaste Coalition made the earnest appeal following a disclosure by the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC) that visitors littered the historic park with truckloads of garbage on Christmas Day.

As confirmed to the EcoWaste Coalition by NPDC Spokesperson Kenneth Montegrande via text message, some 50 truckloads of mixed garbage, mostly discarded plastic bags and Styrofoam containers, were collected from the area.

According to the NPDC, some 750,000 to 800,000 people visited the park on December 24 and 25.

“We join the park authorities in reminding people who are planning to gather in Rizal Park for the New Year’s countdown to treat the place with highest respect such as by not littering,” said Commissioner Romy Hidalgo, NGO Representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission.

“Things you bring to the park need to come back with you for proper recycling or disposal and should never be left behind,” he said.

“Let us not turn the sprawling green space of Rizal Park into a carpet of garbage such as discarded plastic bags, food containers and wrappers, and meal leftovers,” he added.

The EcoWaste Coalition also requested both the park management and the public to strictly observe Rizal Park’s “no smoking, no littering” policy, insisting that a place for rest and recreation should be entirely free of cigarette smoke and litter, a public nuisance and health hazard.

Those caught littering or smoking within the park premises are to pay a fine of P500 or render 8-hour community service for first offense, P1,000-5,000 fine or 16-hour community service for second offense, and P5,000-10,000 fine for third offense, the group reminded.

“The festive season is not an excuse to bury Rizal Park in holitrash. Littering by itself can never be justified,” Hidalgo, a member of the EcoWaste Coalition's Steering Committee, emphasized.


27 December 2012

DOH, EcoWaste Coalition Go Out in the Streets to Campaign for Safe New Year Revelry

Environmental and health campaigners from the government and the civil society on Thursday held a lively parade exhorting local communities to usher in the New Year in a safe way sans perilous firecrackers and fireworks.

With the nearby petroleum oil depot as backdrop, the waste and pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition and the Department of Health organized the “Ligtas Salubong 2013 sa Komunidad" few days before revelers nationwide ring in the New Year with a bang.

From the patio of the Sto. NiƱo de Pandacan Parish, contingents from environmental groups, DOH and Manila's District V and VI barangays marched through Jesus, Laura, Menandro, Flerida and Febo Streets and then to Liwasang Balagtas, brandishing their creative, emission-free noisemakers crafted from recycled materials and dancing "Oppa Gangnam Style" to the applause of community residents.

The activity is part of the EcoWaste Coalition’s ongoing “Iwas PapuToxic” drive in support of the Department of Health's Aksyon: Paputok Injury Reduction (APIR) to promote the public health and safety against the many sided hazards posed by pyrotechnic devices.

Health officials led by Secretary Enrique Ona, Undersecretary Teodoro Herbosa and Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Miss Universe First Runner-Up Janine Tugonon and representatives from national and local government agencies, including the Bureau of Fire Protection and Philippine National Police participated in the event.

"The protection of our children and people against injury and harm caused by firecrackers is a shared responsibility.  We all need to act to reverse this unacceptable practice of exploding firecrackers to usher in the New Year, which has maimed and even claimed the lives of many people.  Let's safely welcome the New Year without paputok-related injuries, fires, wastes and toxic fumes," said Sec. Ona.

During the event, Sec. Ona gamely blew a colorful "torotot" with a placard that says "Iwasan - Usok, Basura, Pinsala: Iwas PapuToxic" (Avoid Fumes, Garbage, Injuries: Iwas PapuToxic), while Asec. Tayag danced the "Oppa Gangnam Style" together with children Patrize and Sam of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“We have come to Pandacan, a safety hotspot due to the presence of the oil depot, to urge residents to stay away from firecrackers and fireworks as a precaution against accidental explosions and fires.  Taking a collective decision to shield the entire community from real harm is worth it, and as the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry,”  said Aileen Lucero of the  EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

"What has become a warlike revelry of noise and pollution is no longer entertaining as we see young children getting disfigured by firecracker blast, the surroundings carpeted in trash and the air reaching hazardous levels that are not safe to breathe," said Ochie Tolentino, Vice-President, EcoWaste Coalition.

To emphasize their point regarding the toxicity of firecrackers, EcoWaste volunteers held huge mock firecrackers marked with skull and cross bones.

Citing information from the Department of Health, the EcoWaste Coalition warned that the use of pyrotechnic devices generate many pollutants, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur compounds, particulate matter, metal oxides and organic compounds, posing health hazards to infants and young children and others with respiratory and cardiovascular ailments.

In addition, firecrackers and fireworks produce huge quantities of non-reusable and non-recyclable discards laced with harmful chemicals, which exacerbate the country’s problem with holiday trash, or "holitrash," during the yuletide season, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.

24 December 2012

EcoWaste Coalition: Reuse and Recycle to Keep Christmas Gift Packaging Out of Dumpsites and Landfills

Recycling Christmas Wrapping Paper

On the eve of Christmas Day, a zero waste advocacy group urged the public to keep and reuse gift packaging and not to simply rip, crumple and toss such useful resources in the trash bin.

Foreseeing bigger garbage generation from the much-awaited day of gift-giving, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded the public that every piece of gift packaging that is saved for future use will reduce what the group calls as “holitrash” (holiday trash) and prevent environmental degradation.

“We urge recipients to value not only what is inside the gift, but also the materials used to wrap it,” said Tin Vergara, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“A little creativity will help in trimming down the volume of packaging materials sent to dumpsites or landfills for disposal,” she said, adding that a“gram of waste prevention is worth a kilo of environmental solution.”

“Holitrash could be a whole lot less if we opt to reuse and recycle some, if not all, of it,” she emphasized.
The bags, boxes, cards, hampers, packets, wrappers and ribbons that are used by people who still prefer to give wrapped gifts can be reused or repurposed in a variety of ways, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.

Christmas paper or plastic gift bags can be reused as carry bags or as pouches for school supplies, class projects, office needs and the like.

Christmas gift boxes can be reused as an organizer to store small toys, trinkets and other knick-knacks, photos and mementos, needles, threads, buttons and other sewing essentials, CDs and DVDs, as well as bills and many other things.

Christmas cards can be turned into bookmarks and gift tags or used as resources for kids’eco-art and as materials for Christmas card tree and other decorations for the next yuletide season.

Christmas hampers, particularly the native basket or the plastic tray, can be reused as containers for fresh fruits, processed snacks, ornamental plants, etc.

Christmas money envelopes or “angpao” red packets can be reused to keep gift cards and tags, spare ID photos, or turned into instant bookmarks.

Christmas wrapping papers can be reused as book, notebook or photo album cover and as materials for art projects.

Christmas ribbons can be reused as hair bows, garland or leis for festive activities, room ornaments, or simply saved for upcoming Birthdays or for future Christmases.
“While there are countless ways of reusing and recycling Christmas packaging, it is more ecological not to wrap gifts at all,” the EcoWaste Coalition insisted, saying that “gifts from the heart need not unreasonably consume our earth’s diminishing resources.”

As per government data, Metro Manila produces up to 8,600 tons of waste daily (consisting of 50% food and organic discards, 25% plastic, 12% paper, 5% metals, 3% glass, 1% hazardous waste and 4% residual waste) that surge during the holiday season with increased consumption and disposal.


23 December 2012

EcoWaste Coalition: Beware of Play Cosmetics Laced with Highly Toxic Mercury

Toy cosmetics containing highly toxic mercury should not be given as Christmas gifts to children, a toxics watchdog warned today.

The EcoWaste Coalition urged consumers to refrain from buying such toy cosmetics, and not to give related items already purchased to children unless there is a verifiable assurance of safety.

The group made the last-minute plea after buying and testing 10 samples on December 22 of toy cosmetics that retailers in Divisoria sell for only P10 to P50.

“Our investigation shows that some play make-up sets are not safe to play with due to the presence of mercury that can damage the kidneys, reduce skin's resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, as well as cause skin discoloration, rashes and scarring,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“Girls, in particular, are unknowingly exposing themselves to mercury and other toxic metals when they play actress, princess or Miss Universe and apply unsafe cosmetics to their faces and lips,” she added.

“Mercury, lead and other health-damaging chemicals should not be present in cosmetics and other consumer products, especially those intended for kids,” she emphasized.

Traces of mercury were detected in 8 of the 10 samples in the range of 3.7 to 554 parts per million (ppm), exceeding the government's "allowable limit" of 1 ppm for cosmetics.

For example, a "Pretty Girl" make-up set, while providing a detailed list of its supposed ingredients did not mention the excessive levels of mercury detected in the lipstick and blush-on powder at 554 ppm and 198 ppm, respectively.

"Fashion Girls" make-up set, on the other hand, was found to contain 179 ppm of mercury while claiming on its label that it is "designed to be safe and harmless."

Based on the X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) screening results, the EcoWaste Coalition cautioned the public against buying and giving the following items as Christmas presents:

1. Pretty Girl Beautiful Colors, P40, with 554 ppm mercury
2. Fashion Girls Make-Up Set, P30, with 179 ppm mercury
3. Wink Club Beauty Series (small), P10, with 4.4 ppm mercury
4. Beauty Princess Make-Up Set, P30, with 4.2 ppm mercury
5. Pretty Girl, P30, with 4.2 ppm mercury

6. Wink Club Beauty Series (big), P40, with 4.1 ppm mercury
7. Dream Girl Make-Up Set, P50, with 3.9 ppm mercury
8. Dream Angel Make-Up Set, P35, with 3.7 ppm mercury

None of the 8 mercury-tainted play cosmetics provided information about their manufacturers or distributors.

The EcoWaste Coalition had earlier reported finding health-damaging heavy metals in 313 out of 518 toy samples that the group procured from retailers in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao during the “ber” months (September to December 2012), underpinning their call for robust toy safety legislation.


22 December 2012

"Feed Mother Earth This Christmas" - EcoWaste Coalition

In the midst of celebration and feasting this Christmas Season, Zero Waste advocacy network EcoWaste Coalition tells the public that Mother Earth would be happy to feast with us by providing her with her favorite food –compost from our organic discards.
“As we prepare to dine together for our traditional Noche Buena and Media Noche, remember to feed Mother Earth, too,” said Noli Abinales of Buklod Tao, member of EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force Ecological Agriculture.
Her favorite food comprise of fruit and vegetable peelings, as well as leftover biodegradable stuff, that normally end up in dumps or landfills, adding to the voluminous garbage which could easily be lessened through simple composting,”Abinales added.

Data has it that some 50-60 % of discards that the average Pinoy throws away as trash are biodegradable wastes that could be composted to nourish the soil that feeds us.

“It’s simply returning favor to which it is due: Mother Earth feeds us; we should feed her too in return, and that is so she could continue feeding us, of course,”Abinales further said.

EcoWaste Coalition maintained that composting not only reduces wastes by more than half its usual volume; it also ensures that biodegradable wastes are reused or recycled as satisfying health food for Mother Earth, so that the food she yields for us in return would also be healthful and free from harmful chemicals.

According to EcoWaste Coalition, there are many simple ways by which composting can be done, yet all these follow the same basic steps, which are as follows.

1.  Segregate biodegradable from non-biodegradable wastes.

2. Prepare the “composter” (pit, container or pile where biodegradable wastes are to be composted).
3.  Chop or cut biodegradable wastes into small pieces for easy decomposition.

4.  Mix the chopped “dry” and “wet” biodegradables so that the mixture is not too wet or too dry. Place the mixture into the composter.

Place a thin layer of soil or chopped “dry” biodegradables on top of the mixture and sprinkle it with a small amount of water.

6.  Aerate the pile by turning it once in a while or by inserting a vertical tube (made of bamboo or old pipes) in the middle of the pile.
7.  When the interior of the pile is no longer hot and the biodegradables have turned into dark and dry soil, composting is finished.

Compost can now be applied as fertilizer to feed your soil and plants.

“It must be remembered that, in the absence of big space, any container, such as can and sack, can be used as a composter. You can prepare Mother Earth's food in any container possible. She would love it anyway you make it really,” EcoWaste Coalition said.
Composting, the group pointed out, is a practical climate, environmental and economic solution as it:

- diverts biodegradable waste from getting into a dumpsite or landfill, lessening space use and pollution;

- minimizes the release of methane, a greenhouse gas and a major global warming culprit;
- enriches the soil with nutrients, ensuring the production of healthful, chemical-free crops;

- improves the soil’s water-holding capacity, reducing the need for watering or irrigation;

- provides a conducive environment for the healthy proliferation of a wide range of beneficial microorganisms; and
- saves money that otherwise would have been spent for fertilizers, pesticides, and water.


20 December 2012

Eco Groups Clamor for Reduced “Holitrash” as Holiday Consumerism Maxes Out

In response to the unsightly piles of mixed garbage defiling the streets of Divisoria and other popular Christmas shopping hubs, Zero Waste advocates called on both the government and the public to strictly implement R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

Among a long list of prohibited acts, R.A. 9003 forbids and penalizes the littering, dumping and burning of waste matters.

The EcoWaste Coalition, in partnership with the Office of Manila District II Councilor Numero Lim and Buklod Tao, today organized a creative action on waste prevention, reduction, segregation, reuse, recycling and composting along Recto Ave., near Abad Santos Ave., in Divisoria.

“Santa Bayong,” a Santa Claus donning a traditional basket of woven leaves greeted shoppers as over a dozen women proudly displayed their bayongand reusable cloth bags, subtly reminding the public of the the consumer power to trim down the holiday trash, or “holitrash,” by giving up plastic bags.

Also, joining “Santa Bayong” in campaigning against “holitrash” were women holding beautiful round native baskets marked with “Reduce,” ‘Reuse,” “Recycle”and “Respect” reminders for an eco-simple Christmas.

The ongoing Christmas shopping bonanza, as well as the blast of parties and social gatherings, has boosted public consumption, consequently resulting to an upsurge in the quantity of discards. These discards go to waste if not properly segregated at source as some of these discards may still be reused and recycled, the environmentalists noted.

During the event, EcoWaste representatives also demonstrated proper waste segregation and offered tips on how to safely manage discards at home.
“The celebration of Christmas is no excuse to the massive trashing of our environment. Our fond remembrance of the redeemer’s birth should be done in a respectful way that will protect, not degrade and ruin, our fragile environment,” said Coun. Numero Lim.

“I specifically urge vendors and shoppers not to litter the premises of Divisoria. Divisoria is a shopping place, not a dumpsite,” added Lim, one of the principal authors of Manila City Ordinance 8282 banning the use of plastic bags for dry goods and regulating their use for wet goods.

Tin Vergara, Zero Waste Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition, said: “Let it not be said that Christmas, a special season to celebrate and share the light of love, has become a festival of litterbugs.”

“We appeal to the heart and conscience of every Filipino to treat our environment with care such as by not wasting and dirtying our surroundings,” she said.

Vergara likewise called on the entire government machinery – from the National Solid Waste Management Commission down to the Barangay Councils – to strictly enforce R.A. 9003 and related laws and measures to ensure the protection of public health and the environment.

For her part, Mother Earth Foundation Chairman Sonia Mendoza persuaded the public to halt the “plasticization” of Christmas, or the unbridled use of plastic bags when shopping.

“By using reusable bags and containers, we limit the demand for plastic packaging, which contribute a sizable amount to Metro Manila’s waste generation.”

As per government data, one fourth of Metro Manila’s waste production of up to 8,600 tons daily is plastic (25%), while food and organic discards comprise 50%, paper 12%, metals 5%, glass 3%, hazardous waste 1%, and residual waste 4%.

“During these times when plastic consumption is enhanced by holiday consumerism, let us try to find ways to negate this destructive reality before it devastates us again,” Mendoza said, alluding to the adverse effects of the careless use and disposal of plastic bags as witnessed by the nation during typhoon Ondoy and the string of extreme weather disturbances after it.

In the course of the event, Lim announced that Manila City Ordinance 8282 was signed and approved on September 3, 2012 and that the ban on the use of any form of plastic bags on dry goods and regulating its use on wet goods will take effect one year later.

The said ordinance also prohibits the use of polystyrene and similar materials as containers for food and other products.


18 December 2012

EcoWaste Coalition's 7th Iwas-PapuToxic Drive Launched "Gangnam Style" at Cubao Elementary School

Environmental and health advocates from the EcoWaste Coalition, together with hundreds of students of Cubao Elementary School (CES) in Quezon City, kicked off their annual drive against the use of firecrackers by holding an on-campus noise barrage simulating the New Year reception sans health-damaging and environment-polluting firecrackers.

Instead of using harmful firecrackers, the school assembly, led by Principal Elena Bote, simultaneously produced sounds out of eco-friendly, home-made noisemakers such as the well-known torotot to simulate the countdown celebration to a New Year.

The event formally launched the EcoWaste Coalition’s yearly “Iwas PapuToxic,” which complements the Department of Health’s “Iwas Paputok” campaign. Now in its seventh year, “Iwas PapuToxic” seeks to dissuade the public, especially the youth, from using firecrackers throughout the holiday season to prevent injuries and deaths, as well as toxic environmental pollution.

The EcoWaste Coalition rewarded students with the most creative noisemakers from recycled materials (winner: improvised drum from three used tin cans; runners up: improvised pot lid cymbals and water jug drum).

Best anti-paputok slogans were likewise cited (winner: “Paputok is out, Gangnam Style is in”; runners-up: “Hindi kailangan ng paputok para maging Masaya, kailangan lang kasama ang pamilya; “Paputok huwag sindihan upang katawan at kalikasan mapangalagaan.”)

“Given the fragile state of our climate and environment, we urge everyone to welcome the New Year without the shedding of blood and the massive pollution from the blasting of firecrackers and fireworks,” said Aileen Lucero, Iwas PapuToxic Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“The conventional use of firecrackers and fireworks to usher the New Year has long been identified as a major source of accidental injuries and deaths, as well as noise, garbage and air pollution,” she added.

To hammer home this message, Santa Claus and two students from CES donned gas masks to demonstrate the toxic effects of paputok explosion to the air we breathe.

Joining the students in the “Iwas PapuToxic” activity is DOH Asst. Sec. Dr. Eric Tayag, Miss Philippines Earth 2012 Stephany Stefanowitz and child star Buboy Villar, who led the group in performing Oppa Gangnam Style, reiterating the importance of an emission-free and injury-proof holiday festivities.

Also present at the launch were representatives from the Philippine National Police and several environmental groups.

In light of the tragedy super typhoon Pablo has brought to Mindanao two weeks ago, where more than 1,000 people were already confirmed dead, the EcoWaste Coalition called on the people to drop their plans to light firecrackers or conduct fireworks displays.

“We appeal to the hearts of those Filipinos preparing for their annual pyrotechnic shows to cancel your plans and instead contribute the money you’ll save to help the typhoon victims,” suggested Betty Cabazares, member of the Steering Committee of the EcoWaste Coalition based in Davao City.

“Aside from minimizing toxic chemicals emission and firework-related accidents and injuries, such compassionate and considerate gestures will surely benefit affected families and raise their hopes for a brighter New Year,” Cabazares added.

For a toxics-free New Year celebration, the EcoWaste Coalition recommends the following eco-friendly noisemakers as alternatives to firecrackers and fireworks. These are:

1. Blow Pinoy-style trumpets (torotot).
2. Clank improvised cymbals such as pot lids or pans.
3. Jangle some maracas from used tin cans.
4. Rattle the tambourine made from flattened bottle crowns.
5. Jiggle "piggy banks" or "shakers" from paper box or plastic bottles with seeds, pebbles or coins.
6. Play home-made drum made of big water bottles, biscuit cans or buckets.
7. Create whistling sound or get a whistle and blow it.
8. Strike the batya or palanggana (washbasin) with a ladle or stick.
9. Bang empty coconut shells.
10. Play your favorite music or musical instruments or just turn on the radio.
11. Set the alarm clock at 12:00 midnight or play ringtones altogether.
12. Beep the bicycle or car horns.
13. Clap your hands and stump your feet.
14. Laugh at the top of your lungs.
15. Do the latest dance craze “Oppa Gangnam Style,” twist and shout “Happy New Year!”


17 December 2012

Manila Vendors Defy Ban on Mercury-Loaded Cosmetics

Not yet banned, mercury-laced Bihuayn Whitening Cream at G2 R. Hidalgo St.
Seven of the eight banned mercury-laden cosmetics sold in Manila.
Banned Bai Li Tou Hong at JDA Chinese Drug Store, Plaza Miranda.
Banned Bai Li Tou Hong at Stall 22, Manila City Plaza.
Banned Miss Beauty Excellent Therapy Whitening Cream at G2 Carriedo St.
Banned "Special Cream" labeled in Chinese characters at Stall G-163, Good Earth Mall, Bustos St.
Banned "Special Cream" labeled in Chinese characters at Miao Eng Chinese Drug Store, Bustos St.
Banned Ailke Perfect Salvation Rosy Whitening A and B Cream at Central Chinese Drug Store, Ongpin St.
Banned Miss Beauty Excellent Therapy Whitening Cream at G2 Carriedo St.
Banned Jiaoli Miraculous Cream sold by a sidewalk vendor at Quezon Blvd. cor. R. Hidalgo St.
17 December 2012. A waste and pollution watchdog has denounced the continued defiance by at least nine Chinese drug stores and beauty product shops in Manila that sell banned skin whitening cosmetics contaminated with dangerous levels of mercury.

The EcoWaste Coalition took to task wayward vendors in Binondo, Quiapo and Santa Cruz for ignoring the government’s directive banning cosmetics with mercury above the one part per million (ppm) “allowable limit.”

On November 28 this year, the Food and Drug Administration issued DOH-FDA Advisory 2012-018 expanding the list of banned cosmetic products found to contain toxic concentrations of mercury.

Market monitoring by the group’s AlerToxic Patrol last Friday and Sunday revealed that no less than seven of the banned 71 items are openly sold in the area, including Ailke Perfect Salvation Rosy Whitening A and B Cream that had 63,516 ppm of mercury.

Among those seen on store shelves in Quiapo were Bai Li Tou Hong (JDA Drug Store, Plaza Miranda and Stall 22, Manila City Plaza), Jiaoli Miraculous Cream (sidewalk vendor, Quezon Blvd. cor. R. Hidalgo St.), Miss Beauty Excellent Therapy Whitening Cream in blue and purple boxes and Miss Beauty Magic Cream (G2 Beauty Products and General Merchandise, Carriedo St. and R. Hidalgo St.).

Being traded in Binondo and Sta. Cruz were single and double packaging of a ‘Special Cream” labeled in Chinese characters (Stall G 163, Good Earth Mall and Miao Eng Chinese Drug Store, Bustos St., Sta. Cruz), Liliki Whitening Day and Night Cream (Stall G 50-51, Rizal Ave., Good Earth Mall, Sta. Cruz) and Ailke Perfect Salvation Rosy Whitening A and B Cream (Central Chinese Drug Store, Ongpin St.).

Also on sale at the G2 store in Quiapo was Bihuayn Whitening Cream, a sample of which was tested by the EcoWaste Coalition in September 2012 and found to contain 12,600 ppm of mercury. The FDA has yet to ban this product.
“We deplore this shameless disregard for consumer health and welfare by some traders as if exposure to mercury in cosmetics is not a serious threat to health at all,” lamented Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect, adding that "such defiance points to the urgency of passing the draft city ordinance banning and penalizing the sale of mercury-laden cosmetics in Manila."

FDA Director Kenneth Hartigan-Go through the said directive has deputized local government units and enforcement agencies “to apprehend vendors or outlets found selling the highly toxic cosmetic products to prevent further exposure of consumers and to protect the environment.”

Last Tuesday, the combined force of the FDA and the EcoWaste Coalition seized 120 boxes of mercury-laden cosmetics that are illegally sold by retailers in Baclaran.

According to the FDA’s health advisory, the chronic use of mercury-laced cosmetics “reduces skin’s normal resistance against bacterial and fungal infections.”

“There have been cases of adverse health effects brought about by highly toxic mercury in cosmetic products, such as kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring,” the advisory pointed out.

“Other effects include anxiety, depression or psychosis and peripheral neuropathy,”the advisory further said.
The photos of the products on display can be viewed at the EcoWaste Coalition’s blogspot at:

16 December 2012

Refrain from Giving Lead-Laden Mugs This Christmas


With Christmas just around the corner, a toxics watchdog cautioned the public from buying and giving mugs that may unintentionally expose recipients to lead, a health-damaging chemical poison.

The EcoWaste Coalition made this warning after subjecting 25 samples of ceramic and glass mugs to chemicals analysis using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer.

The samples, sold from P20 to P165, were mostly obtained from informal vendors in Carriedo, P. Gomez, R. Hidalgo, Villalobos and C. Palanca Sts., Quiapo and in Rizal Ave., Sta. Cruz and bargain shops in Divisoria, Manila, and from established retailers in Cubao, Quezon City.

Out of the 25 samples, 20 were found laden with lead up to 31,700 parts per million, way above the 90 ppm limit for lead in paint.

None of the samples indicated that lead was used in glazes or paints, while only five provided details about their manufacturers or distributors.

Mugs featuring popular cartoon characters such as “Angry Birds,” “Spongebob Squarepants”and a host of Disney icons ranked top among the most leaded samples, ranging from 3,441 to 31,700 ppm.

Imitation or unofficial mugs bearing names or emblems of well-known coffee and chocolate brands were also found leaded in the range of 4,702 ppm to 14,400 ppm.

“Lead glazes and paints used in some mugs can be a health hazard. Let us not give people we care about with yuletide gifts that may unnecessarily expose them to such a health-damaging chemical,”said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Reacting to the awful levels of lead found in mugs featuring iconic figures and logos, Dizon said it would be helpful for concerned companies to disclaim such products and stop the unauthorized use of their brand names and emblems.

The findings provide another basis for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to speed up the issuance of the long-delayed “Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds,” which would have restricted the use of lead in glazes and paints, the EcoWaste Coalition noted.

Based on the XRF screening, the 10 samples with the highest concentrations of lead were:

1. “Spongebob Squarepants” clear glass mug, 31,700 ppm lead

2. “Pooh” frosted glass mug, 28,300 ppm lead3. “Angry Birds” clear glass mug, 23,2004. “Heart’s Words Cup” with cat design, 22,000 ppm lead5. “Spongebob Squarepants” frosted glass mug, 20,200 ppm lead
6. “Angry Birds” frosted glass mug with spoon, 20,100 ppm lead
7. “Cars” ceramic mugs, 19,100 ppm lead
8. “Little Bear” clear glass mug, 17,300 ppm lead
9. “Barbie Best Dressed Doll” ceramic mug, 15,700 ppm lead
10. “Angry Birds” clear glass mug (tall), 15,300 ppm lead

Aside from lead, many of the samples had traces of other chemicals of concern such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium and even mercury.