28 February 2012

Groups Welcome Writ of Kalikasan vs Obando Landfill Project


Concerned groups welcomed a decision by the Supreme Court that they hope would eventually “bury with finality” a controversial landfill project in the town of Obando, province of Bulacan.

The Supreme Court en banc issued on February 21, 2012 the writ of kalikasan in response to a petition filed by the Concerned Citizens of Obando to halt the construction of a garbage disposal facility at the fishing village of Salambao off Manila Bay.

The notice signed by Atty. Enriqueta Vidal, Clerk of Court, also referred the case to the Court of Appeals “for hearing, reception of evidence and rendition of judgment.”

In a common statement, the Concerned Citizens of Obando, the Upholding Life And Nature (ULAN) and the EcoWaste Coalition hailed the issuance of the writ of kalikasan as a step towards environmental justice.

“We thank God that the High Court granted us with a legal remedy, which we hope would, in due course, bury the contentious landfill project with finality,” said Maria Teresa Bondoc, one of the petitioners.

Lawyer Ronaldo Gutierrez, counsel for petitioners from ULAN, lauded the efforts of the concerned residents of Obando to protect the environment and the cultural heritage not just of their hometown, but all the communities surrounding Manila Bay as well.

“The proponents never fully disclosed that they will be transporting by barge a thousand metric tons of garbage per day from Pier 18 to Obando for the next 6 to 10 years. They will then dump it along the banks of Manila Bay, protected by a retaining wall that is prone to storm surges, built on inherently weak foundation and on an area near an active fault. From every angle, it's a garbage disaster just waiting to happen,” he commented.

“We hope through the writ of kalikasan, the government agencies will no longer turn a blind eye to these huge risks and stop this pretense that the landfill will help clean-up Manila Bay in accordance with the continuing mandamus issued by the Supreme Court in the MMDA case. It will not. It's an end-of-pipe solution that actually puts the garbage of Metro Manila right at the very banks of Manila Bay. How crazy is that?” he added.

For his part, Atty. Armand Mejia, counsel for the EcoWaste Coalition, said: “We hope that the wheels of environmental justice will move swiftly leading to a permanent ban on all landfill operations and ventures around Manila Bay."

The EcoWaste Coalition during its General Assembly last January 31, 2012 resolved to “support the citizens’ campaign to block the Obando landfill project and resist other existing or planned landfill projects in the Manila Bay corridor and region.”

The so-called “sanitary” landfill, a flagship project of the Ecoshield Development Corporation led by businessman Antonio L. Cabangon Chua, to be erected on a 45-hectare former fishpond is determinedly opposed by residents, civic and religious organizations and environmental health and justice groups.

Bondoc and 15 other residents of Obando petitioned the Supreme Court on October 24, 2011 “to stop a looming environmental catastrophe” by issuing a writ of kalikasan with a prayer for a Temporary Environmental Protection Order (TEPO) and by, among others, directing respondents to cease and desist from constructing and operating the landfill project.

Among the respondents were Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, Environmental Management Bureau Region III Director Lormelyn Claudio, Bulacan Governor Wilhemino Sy-Alvarado, Obando Mayor Orencio Gabriel, the Sangguniang Bayan of Obando, the Sangguniang Barangay of Salambao and Ecoshield Development Corporation.

The writ of kalikasan, according to the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases, is a legal remedy that can be availed by persons or groups whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated, or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or private individual or entity involving environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces.

27 February 2012

EcoWaste Coalition Urges Enforcement of Ban against Open Burning to Improve Air Quality

A waste and pollution watchdog has appealed to the government to vigorously implement the ban on open burning to reduce human exposure to environmental toxicants.

“We call upon concerned national and local authorities to resolutely enforce the ban on open burning to eliminate hazardous emissions from the combustion of discards. This will reduce smoke pollution and improve the air quality, while conserving resources that can be put to good use,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

Section 48 of R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000,prohibits and penalizes the open burning of discards with a fine of P300 to P1,000 or imprisonment of 1 to 15 days, or both.

The group made the appeal prior to a government-sponsored “Clean Air Summit for Metro Manila” on February 29 to be led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Health and other agencies.

Instead of open burning that results to climate and chemical pollution, the EcoWaste Coalition urges households, institutions, factories and farms to reduce, reuse and recycle their discards and turn food scraps, garden trimmings and farm residues into compost or mulch.

Data from the 2006 National Emission Inventory by the DENR indicate that pollutants from mobile sources such as buses, cars, jeeps, motorcycles, tricycles and trucks contribute 65% to air pollution, while stationary sources such as factories,heavy industries and power plants discharge 21 % and area sources such as agricultural and solid waste burning, construction and related activities emit 14%.

“The smoke from the open burning of discards is laden with health-damaging gases and particles that can irritate the eyes, nose and throat, trigger asthma attacks and cause or aggravate other diseases,” Alvarez said.

“Babies, young children, the elderly and persons suffering from allergies and respiratory ailments are most vulnerable to smoke pollution,” he emphasized.

Studies have shown that open burning of waste emits greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane.

Aside from GHGs, the smoke from open burning contains many other harmful substances such as acrolein, formaldehyde, particulate matter, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds and persistent organic pollutants such as dioxins.

Dioxins, in particular, have been linked to increased risk of cancer,decreased sperm levels and other reproductive defects, immune system injuries,heart disease, diabetes, chloracne, skin discoloration and rashes.

Citing a definition by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the EcoWaste Coalition said that open burning refers to “the combustion of unwanted combustible materials such as paper, wood, plastics,textiles, rubber, waste oils and other debris in open-air or in open dumps,where smoke and other emissions are released directly into the air without passing through a chimney or stack.”

According to the IPCC, “open burning can also include incineration devices that do not control the combustion air to maintain an adequate temperature and do not provide sufficient residence time for complete combustion.”

-end-

References:

http://www.chanrobles.com/republicactno9003.htm

http://www.ipcc-nggip.iges.or.jp/public/2006gl/pdf/5_Volume5/V5_5_Ch5_IOB.pdf

25 February 2012

No More Confetti Shower in People Power Rites




A group campaigning for a “litter-free Pilipinas” urged government authorities to disallow the throwing of confetti in future celebrations of the historic People Power Revolution.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, made the proposal today after seeing heaps of yellow confetti at the commemorative rites held in the People Power Monument and surrounding area in EDSA, Quezon City.

“The confetti shower has become so behind the times and inappropriate as the nation puts up with the real effects of garbage and pollution, especially in Metro Manila,” said Basura Patroller Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“We feel badly for the uncomplaining street cleaners who had a hard time sweeping up the area for confetti under the scorching sun,” he said.

“The authorities should have not spent for confetti and for the helicopter that flew by and dropped the confetti onto the cheering crowd,” he added.

“The non-use of confetti in future celebrations will not in any degree lessen the meaning and purpose of People Power,” he pointed out.

“On the contrary, the exclusion of confetti shower and other wasteful acts in future rites will reflect our ecological responsibility and maturity as a people,” he stated.

The EcoWaste Coalition also scored the Styrofoam food containers left on the streets by some of the event participants and volunteers.
“These polystyrene food containers pose serious garbage disposal problems,” Calonzo said.

“They do not biodegrade, they take up a lot of space in dumpsites and landfills and, like plastic bags, choke waterways and persist in the environment for a long time,” he added.

-end-

24 February 2012

Brain-Damaging Chemical Found in “People Power” Souvenirs


A watchdog tracking harmful chemicals in consumer products had detected high levels of lead, a potent toxin that attacks the brain, in some souvenir items celebrating the triumph of “People Power.”

The EcoWaste Coalition made the revelation on the eve of the 26th anniversary of “People Power Revolution” in 1986 that restored democracy in the country.

The group bought souvenirs from the Filipiniana sections of major retail stores in shopping malls located along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, or EDSA, the center of people’s upheavals that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

Among the samples analyzed on February 23 through an X-Ray Fluorescence spectrometer were commemorative jewelry, rosary, reflective car sticker, coffee mug and tote bags.

A yellow eyeglasses pin was found to contain 13,100 parts per million (ppm) of lead, while the yellow ribbon pin had 8,566 ppm of lead and a yellow ribbon pendant of a necklace had 731 ppm of lead. All these items were made of metal alloys.

“While these products were not strictly designed for children, it is possible for these items to get into the hands and mouths of kids if within their reach,” explained Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Because of the probability that children could play with these attractive yellow-painted items, the group used as reference the regulatory limit of 100 ppm for lead in children’s jewelry under the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

“We need to protect children who are most vulnerable to toxic exposure. Celebrating People Power should not in any way damage our children’s brain,” he stated.

During the political upheavals in the 1980s, Dizon recalled that the people flashed the “L” (for "Laban" or fight) sign with the index finger and thumb as a symbol of resistance against the dictatorship.

“It seems that the famous ‘L’ sign has now assumed a new meaning: fight to eliminate‘lead’ in paints and consumer products,” he added.

“The time has come for the people to wage and win another fight. This time it’s the fight against insidious chemicals such as lead that threaten the health of the society, including those yet to be born,” he pointed out.

Fetuses, young children, workers and women of child-bearing age are most susceptible to the effects of lead exposure and poisoning, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Citing information from the World Health Organization (WHO), the group said that lead absorbed by the fetus can cause difficulties during pregnancy, including miscarriage, premature birth or low birth-weight.

While not as at risk as children to severe effects, lead exposure in adults can cause problems in the reproductive, nervous, cardiovascular and digestive systems.

The WHO has further warned that “there is no known safe blood lead level but it is known that, as lead exposure increases, the range and severity of symptoms and effects also increases.”

-end-

23 February 2012

Manila City Council Presses Action vs Mercury-Laden Cosmetics

The City Council of Manila last Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution to rid the market of health-damaging cosmetics containing mercury, an extremely toxic chemical.

At the instigation of Councilor Numero “Uno” Lim and with support from presiding officer Vice Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, the City Council agreed to urge the City Department of Health “to vigorously assist the Food and Drug Administration in the strict enforcement of the ban on mercury-tainted cosmetics.”

The City Council also resolved to request key government agencies such as the Department of Health, Food and Drug Administration, National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police to coordinate toward an effective regulation of health products, including cosmetics, under R.A. 9711 or the Food and Drug Administration of 2009.

“As the national capital and the show window of the nation in terms of law enforcement and the maintenance of public health and safety,the City of Manila must engage in a massive campaign to banish these deadly and lethal products from all outlets,” the resolution stated.

This timely action by the City Council immediately drew cheers from the EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog.

“We applaud Vice Mayor Moreno, Councilor Lim and other members of the City Council for this urgent public health action to ensure consumer safety from hazardous products,” said Aileen Lucero, Safe Cosmetics Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The City Council should follow this up with an ordinance that will once and for all make the sale of mercury-laden cosmetics a thing of the past,” she added.

Lucero suggested that Manila’s action should be replicated by other local government units.

“This will cripple the supply chain of poison cosmetics that should not be in the market in the first place," she stated.

The FDA in 2010 and 2011 banned a total of 50 skin whitening products for containing mercury above the 1 part per million (ppm) limit that “pose imminent danger or injury to the consuming public.”

However, test buys conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition indicate that some of the banned items are still being sold by unscrupulous traders, including non-compliant health and beauty shops and Chinese drug stores.

On February 1, the group screened 20 samples of skin whitening products using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer and found mercury in all the samples, with one item loaded with 72,100 ppm of mercury.

According to the World Health Organization, “mercury in skin lightening products can damage the kidney and also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.”

-end-

22 February 2012

Eco Groups back MMDA’s call for banning plastic bags and Styrofoam

22 February 2012, Quezon City. Environmental groups pushing for the proper implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act or RA 9003, expressed support to Metro Manila Development Authority’s call for a metro-wide ban on plastic bags and Styrofoam in packaging and handling items and food products.

“It’s time the rest of the metropolitan LGUs such as Caloocan, Malabon, Manila, Marikina, Navotas, Paraňaque, Pateros, Quezon City, San Juan and Valenzuela unite with the other cities in addressing plastic pollution, which highlights as well as worsens the sorry conditions of our waterways during rainy season,”, said Troy Lacsamana, Head of EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force Plastics.

“Instead of wasting funds in the unsustainable practice of keeping up with plastic-aggravated effects of changed rain patterns, let’s focus on changing our behavior towards plastic ~ let’s reduce our dependence on disposable products,” he adds.

In 2006, 2010, and 2011, waste audits conducted by EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Mother Earth Foundation and other ecogroups revealed plastics products - led by plastic bags - to be the top detritus in terms of volume in Manila bay and Laguna Lake.

The groups noted that local funds can be potentially saved in banning plastics as it could reduce expenses from waste collection, waterways clean-up activities, and other waste-related retrieval operations.

“It’s time our LGUs realize that banning disposable plastics would help mitigate the effects our changed weather patterns and strengthen the climate resiliency of Metro Manila, not only because it reduces the odds of plastics finding their way in our waterways, but also minimizes the need to extract dwindling resources to manufacture new products,” says Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives Campaigner Paeng Lopez.

“The funds LGUs save can be used for other ecological waste management projects such as recycling, or other LGU priorities such as disaster risk reduction and adaptation,” he adds.

For her part, Sonia Mendoza of Mother Earth Foundation pointed out that, “we should utilize local reusable bags as alternatives to plastic bags since our country is abundant with their raw materials. We have abaca, water hyacinths, pandan, and buri all over our islands, which means producing, harvesting, transporting, and manufacturing them entail less carbon footprint than their petroleum-based counterpart.”

Plastic products are made from petroleum, a dwindling natural resource requiring carbon-intensive extraction, transportation, and refining.

The groups also expressed support to the proposed Senate Bill 3001 of Sen. Miriam Santiago that aims to ban plastic bags regardless of their composition, either regular or degradable plastic bags while promoting the use of reusable bags.

14 February 2012

SC Asked to Put Manila Bay Clean Up Compliance Reports Online for Easy Public Access

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network, has asked the Supreme Court to make available online all compliance reports submitted by government agencies tasked to clean up Manila Bay.

In a letter sent to Chief Justice Renato Corona and Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez, the group sought public access to the various reports citing the constitutional right of the people to information on matters of public concern (Article 3, Section 7) and the state policy of full public disclosure (Article 2, Section 28).

“We request you to please cause the publication of these reports on the ‘Manila Bay Clean Up Update’ section of the Supreme Court website and invite the public to send their comments online or via post,” wrote Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We suggest that a facility for online comments be made available,” he added.

“This will make it easy for the people to gain access to pertinent information and hopefully invigorate citizens’ participation in the gargantuan task of cleaning up the iconic water body,” he explained.

“As a group tracking chemical and waste issues and campaigning for just and sustainable solutions, we and presumably many other likeminded groups would like to know how government institutions are abiding by their assignments,” he stated.

Acting on the recommendations by the Manila Bay Advisory Committee, the Supreme Court on February 15, 2011 adopted a resolution directing certain government agencies to perform specific responsibilities such as the submission of required reports on or before June 30 last year.

The Metro Manila Development Authority was to submit a report regarding the location of open and controlled dumps in Metro Manila and its plan for the closure of these open and controlled dumps to be accomplished not later than December 31, 2012.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was to submit a report about the location of all open and controlled dumps in Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan.

The DENR was also to submit a report on whether or not the 13 landfills situated at the National Capital Region, Region III (Central Luzon) and Region IV-A (Calabarzon) strictly comply with Sections 41 and 42 of RA 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, on the establishment and operation of sanitary landfills.

The DENR and the Department of Health were also to develop a toxic and hazardous waste management system by June 30, 2011, which will implement segregation of hospital/toxic/hazardous wastes and prevent mixing with municipal solid waste.

It will be recalled that the Supreme Court on December 18, 2008 issued a writ of continuing mandamus directing 13 government agencies “to clean up, rehabilitate and preserve Manila Bay, and restore and maintain its waters to make them fit for swimming, skin-diving, and other forms of contact recreation.”

-end-

13 February 2012

TOXIC LOVE: EcoWaste Coalition Tells Lovestruck Pinoys to be Wary of Toxic Gifts


Some Valentine’s Day gift items are toxic to health and not romantic at all.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, aired this warning on the eve of Valentine’s Day after discovering traces of heavy metals in 13 out of 20 (65%) products bought from formal and informal retailers in Binondo, Divisoria, Quiapo and Sta. Cruz, Manila.

The group purchased the items on February 10 to 12 and screened them for cadmium, lead and other heavy metals on February 13 using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer.

Among the product samples were stuffed hearts, puffy toy gifts, mugs, panty rose and other Valentine’s Days knick-knacks.

“Our findings indicate that some Valentine Day’s gifts and accessories are laced with hazardous chemicals that can harm people we care about,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Cadmium and lead, two of the “Ten Chemicals of Major Public Health Concern” as per the World Health Organization (WHO), were detected in five samples.

According to the WHO, “cadmium exerts toxic effects on the kidney, the skeletal and the respiratory systems, and is classified as a human carcinogen,” while lead “is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems, including the neurologic, hematologic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and renal systems.”

Levels detected ranged from 1,248 ppm to 2,059 for cadmium (exceeding the 75 ppm limit under the proposed US Children’s Toxic Metals Act) and 159 ppm to 6,713 ppm for lead (exceeding the lead in paint limit under the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act).

"Ceramic mugs with 'kilig to the bones' (titillating) images or messages were among the 'dirtiest' with worrisome levels of cadmium and lead unfit for food contact materials," she noted.

A mug with the message “World’s Best Lover” registered with the highest amount of cadmium at 2,059 and also had 6,628 ppm of lead, 1,233 of arsenic and 513 ppm of antimony.

Another mug with the image of a cheerful boy holding a bouquet of hearts tested with the highest amount of lead at 6,713 ppm and also had 1,951 ppm of cadmium, 1,065 ppm of arsenic, 635 ppm of chromium and 295 ppm of antimony.

A “Garfield” stuffed toy had 1,785 ppm of lead, 1,346 ppm of chromium, 296 ppm of arsenic and 171 ppm of antimony.

Lucero noted that “none of the samples had complete product information, keeping consumers in the dark about who made the products, their chemical contents and their effects to health.”

"Seven samples tested negative for heavy metals signifying that products meant to express love can be made without such substances," she added.

Fetuses, young children, workers and women of child-bearing age are most susceptible to the effects of lead exposure and poisoning, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Citing information from WHO, the group said that lead absorbed by the fetus can cause difficulties during pregnancy, including miscarriage, premature birth or low birth-weight.

While not as at risk as children to severe effects, lead exposure in adults can cause problems in the reproductive, nervous, cardiovascular and digestive systems.

The WHO has warned that “there is no known safe blood lead level but it is known that, as lead exposure increases, the range and severity of symptoms and effects also increases.”

-end-

http://www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/cadmium/en/index.html
http://www.who.int/heca/infomaterials/lead.pdf

09 February 2012

Manila Councilor Asks City Government to Go After Retailers of Illegal Mercury-Tainted Cosmetics





A Manila councilor today filed a resolution asking the City Government to take action against unscrupulous retailers of cosmetics laced with mercury, an extremely toxic chemical, to protect public health.

District II Councilor Numero “Uno” Lim made the move in response to the continued proliferation of mercury-contaminated skin whitening creams as uncovered by the EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog.

The resolution calls on the City Government to undertake immediate enforcement operations, in collaboration with the EcoWaste Coalition and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to rid the local market of mercury-tainted cosmetics.

“We need to protect unsuspecting consumers from being harmed by cosmetics spiked with mercury,” said Lim.

“Mercury in personal care products is a serious health threat, especially to our women who deserve nothing less than safe cosmetics,” he pointed out.

Citing a flyer from the World Health Organization, Lim warned that “mercury in skin lightening products can damage the kidney and also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.”

The EcoWaste Coalition recently tested 20 samples of imported skin whitening products using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device and detected mercury in all the samples, with one sample having a whopping 72,100 parts per million (ppm) of mercury.

The maximum allowable limit for mercury in cosmetics is 1 ppm as per FDA regulation.

Out of these 20 samples, 10 were among the 50 products banned by the FDA but are still being sold in some non-compliant Chinese drug stores and health and beauty shops in the City of Manila, the resolution noted.

According to Lim’s resolution, the FDA banned 50 imported skin whitening products in 2010 and 2011 for containing excessive quantities of mercury and without the benefit of notification with the agency in direct violation of Republic Act 9711 or the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009.

The banned products “pose imminent danger or injury to the consuming public,” warned the agency.

The FDA has sought the assistance of local government units (LGUs) in identifying and apprehending importers, distributors and retailers of the dangerous goods.

Meanwhile, the EcoWaste Coalition lauded Lim's proposal to combat trade in illegal cosmetics in the city.

"Manila's effort to help the FDA in enforcing its directive versus mercury-laced cosmetics should be replicated by other LGUs. This will cripple the supply chain of poison cosmetics that should not be in the market in the first place," stated Aileen Lucero, Safe Cosmetics Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

-end-

07 February 2012

Government Urged to Adopt Pro-Climate, Pro-Environment and Pro-Health Stance vs Paputok

A coalition of citizens’ groups today appealed to both the public and private sectors to adopt a strong policy against firecrackers and fireworks that will protect the climate, the environment and people’s health.

In a statement released ahead of the Department of Health-organized “Firework Related Injury Summit” to be held tomorrow, February 8, at the Manila Grand Opera Hotel, the EcoWaste Coalition called for a switch to non-injurious, non-polluting and non-wasteful way of celebrating the New Year and other festive occasions.

The EcoWaste Coalition sought for a comprehensive ban similar to what is being enforced in Davao City since 2001 that has dramatically reduced firecracker-related injuries and deaths to zero.

“Some people were understandably cynical when Davao City introduced the firecracker ban. They thought it could not be done. But the sceptics have been proven wrong. The Davaoeños have shown it could be done if there is political will on the side of the local officials,” said Aileen Lucero, Iwas PapuToxic Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

The group gave the cold shoulder to community fireworks display saying that centralized fireworks also generate pollutants and wastes, and cause injuries like what happened at the UP Lantern Parade last December 16, 2011 when wayward fireworks injured 17 spectators.

“We believe that no public funds should be spent for community fireworks display. The public should not pay for expendable activities that also pose harm to health, the environment and the climate,” Lucero said.

To justify their call for a holistic pro-climate, pro-environment and pro-health policy versus firecrackers and fireworks, the EcoWaste Coalition cited seven reasons:

1. Firecrackers and fireworks contribute to climate change, which the Lancet has described as “the greatest global health threat of the 21st century,” posing potentially irreversible threat to humans and the planet. The creation of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from non-essential uses such as the blasting of firecrackers and fireworks to ring in the New Year aggravate the unfolding climate crisis and should be decisively curbed.

2. Firecrackers and fireworks cause serious if not fatal injuries to users as well as non-users. From 2000 to 2011, the DOH recorded 10,107 firecracker-related injuries. Add to this the statistics from the latest celebration to welcome 2012 – “the deadliest ever” – with 4 fatalities and 1,004 injuries (970 of which were firecracker-related injuries).

3. Firecrackers and fireworks contain dangerous chemicals and produce toxic dusts and fumes, exacerbating the poor air quality and causing throat and chest congestion and other health problems, particularly for young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with asthma and chemical sensitivities. In fact, levels of total suspended particulates (TSPs) in Metro Manila rose to as high as 1,000 micrograms per normal cubic meter during the last revelry, way above the World Health Organization’s standard of clean air at 90 mcg/ncm.

4. Firecrackers and fireworks create thick smog resulting to poor visibility, causing public safety hazards and forcing the necessary diversion or cancellation of flights like what happened on January 1, 2012 that affected two international and eight domestic flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

5. Firecrackers and fireworks generate tons of toxic-laced non-reusable and non-recyclable discards such as paper scraps, cellophane and plastic wrappers that add to the mountains of holitrash (holiday trash), which are buried in dumpsites and landfills or disposed of in streets and waterways.

6. Firecrackers and fireworks produce deafening noise that can trigger anxiety, stress, sleep disorders, hearing disabilities, and even high blood pressure and heart attack. The ear-splitting explosions terrify and cause “acoustical torture” for animals, especially cats and dogs who are more sensitive to sound than humans.

7. Firecrackers and fireworks squander hard-earned money for few minutes of “dirty” entertainment, which is better spent to buy food for the table, clothes and books for the children and shelter for the homeless. In addition, the public funds spent to pay for the cost of treating firecracker-related injuries can be used to support primary health programs.

The massive detonation of both legal and illegal pyrotechnics goes against the basic state policies of safeguarding human health and the ecosystems as enshrined in the Constitution, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

It also contravenes key provision of major environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act of 1999, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, Clean Water Act of 2004 and the Climate Change Act of 2009, as well as the Animal Welfare Act of 1998, the group said.

-end-










































04 February 2012

20 Facial Cream Products Contaminated with Mercury



The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, had detected mercury, a powerful neurotoxin, in 20 imported skin whitening facial creams.

Based on the screening conducted by the group using X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, all of the 20 samples tested had mercury above the 1 part per million (ppm) limit set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Of the 20 mercury-loaded creams, 10 were among the 50 brands recalled by the FDA for exceeding the 1 ppm limit in total contempt of the law,” said Aileen Lucero, Safe Cosmetics Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

The FDA has yet to ban the other 10 brands that could put users’ health at risk, the group noted.

“We call upon the FDA to immediately recall the toxic products and punish recalcitrant importers, distributors and retailers to dissuade others from defying the law,” she said.

From January 28 to February 1, the EcoWaste Coalition bought samples from Chinese drug stores and health and beauty shops in the cities of Makati, Manila and Quezon. The samples were analyzed for mercury last Wednesday with the assistance of QES (Manila), Inc.

Mercury in skin lightening products can damage the kidney and also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Aside from mercury, traces of other toxic metals such as arsenic, cadmium and chromium were found in some of the samples.

“Beauty Girl 10 Double Whitening Speckles Removed Essence Cream (Natural Olive and Sheep)”, banned since 2010, had the highest mercury content at 72,100 ppm.

The top 10 samples with the most mercury were 1) Beauty Girl 10 Double Whitening Speckles Removed Essence Cream (Natural Olive and Sheep), 72,100 ppm, 2) Bai Li Tou Hong, 65,700 ppm, 3) Ailke Perfection Salvation Rosy Whitening A + B, 55,300 ppm, 4) Long Dian Tu Glutathione Pearl Natural Whitening Essence Cream, 50,800 ppm, and 5) Beauty Girl 10-Day Whitening Speckles Removed Essence Cream (Ginseng and Green Cucumber), 48,300 ppm.

Completing the list were 6) Feique Rose Refining Nourishing Set Cream, 30,200 ppm, 7) Jonathan 12-day Clearing Facial Spots Cream, 24,500 ppm, 8) Feique Whitening Anti-Freckle Cream (Russian characters), 22,200 ppm, 9) Feique Golden Aloe Whitening Anti-Scar Anti-Freckle Set, 19,600 ppm and 10) Lamb Placenta Whitening and Anti-Aging Cream, 12,200 ppm.

For selling the mercury-laced cosmetics, the EcoWaste Coalition gave “Lason Awards” to the unscrupulous dealers led by Rose and Fujikura General Merchandise in Barangay Guadalupe and Barangay Sta. Cruz in Makati City where nine of the 20 samples were purchased.

The group also chided R.L. Tarinque General Merchandise at 1A-45 of 168 Mall, Clarita Valeriano Merchandise, Cheng En Chinese Drug Store, Kaften Beauty Shop and Kimsheng Chinese Drug Store situated in Binondo, Quiapo and Sta. Cruz, Manila and Kaka Chinese Drug Store in Cubao, Quezon City for selling poison creams.

According to WHO, mercury in soaps, creams and other cosmetic products is eventually discharged into wastewater. The mercury then enters the environment, where it becomes methylated and enters the food-chain as the highly toxic methylmercury in fish.

Pregnant women who consume fish containing methylmercury transfer the mercury to their fetuses, which can later result in neurodevelopmental deficits in the children, the WHO said.

-end-

Reference:
http://www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/mercury_flyer.pdf

01 February 2012

EcoWaste Coalition Gives "Lason Award," Hits Stores Selling Mercury-Tainted Facial Creams

(Photos from the top: 1) Engr. Ramir Castro of QES (Manila), Inc. tests the samples with XRF, 2) Purchase receipts of samples, 3) Top 10 samples with most mercury, 4) 20 samples all containing mercury)

A toxics watchdog has upped the ante on safe cosmetics advocacy by taking to task dealers of illegal skin whitening creams containing huge quantities of mercury, an extremely toxic chemical.

In its pre-Valentine press statement, the EcoWaste Coalition took the bold step of identifying vendors of mercury-tainted facial creams and giving them the “Lason Award” for selling the contraband goods that exceeded the government regulatory limit of one part per million (ppm) for mercury in cosmetics.

“We have taken this step of naming the erring vendors to push them to have a heart and stop the illegal trade of poison cosmetics," said Aileen Lucero, Safe Cosmetics Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

"We urge our cosmetics regulators to apply the full force of the law and hold the culprits accountable," she stated.

"Through our action, we also hope to raise consumer awareness and vigilance about the hazards of mercury exposure from dirtied skin whitening creams,” said Aileen Lucero, Safe Cosmetics Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

The group conducted its latest round of test buys of skin whitening products on January 28-February 1 in the cities of Makati, Manila and Quezon and had them screened for mercury using the X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer on February 1.

All the 20 samples had mercury above 1 ppm with “Beauty Girl 10 Double Whitening Speckles Removed Essence Cream (Natural Olive and Sheep)”, banned since 2010, being the "dirtiest" with mercury at 72,100 ppm.

Of these 20, 10 were among the 50 skin whitening products banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year, following an exposé by the EcoWaste Coalition and its partner IPEN, a global civil society network working for a toxic-free future.

Nine of the mercury-tainted samples were procured from the various outlets of Rose and Fujikura General Merchandise in Barangay Guadalupe Nuevo and Barangay Sta. Cruz in Makati City with official receipts given, making it the runaway winner of the first ever “Lason Award” for skin whitening cream category.

R.L. Tarinque General Merchandise at stall 1A-45 of 168 Mall (dealer of three mercury-laced skin lightening products), Clarita Valeriano Merchandise, Cheng En Chinese Drug Store, Kaften Beauty Shop and Kimsheng Chinese Drug Store situated in Binondo, Quiapo and Sta. Cruz, Manila and Kaka Chinese Drug Store in Cubao, Quezon City were likewise chided for selling toxic creams.

The top 10 products with the most mercury were 1) Beauty Girl 10 Double Whitening Speckles Removed Essence Cream (Natural Olive and Sheep), 72,100 ppm, 2) Bai Li Tou Hong, 65,700 ppm, 3) Ailke Perfection Salvation Rosy Whitening A + B, 55,300 ppm, 4) Long Dian Tu Glutathione Pearl Natural Whitening Essence Cream, 50,800 ppm, and 5) Beauty Girl 10-Day Whitening Speckles Removed Essence Cream (Ginseng and Green Cucumber), 48,300 ppm.

Completing the top 10 were 6) Feique Rose Refining Nourishing Set Cream, 30,200 ppm, 7) Jonathan 12-day Clearing Facial Spots Cream, 24,500 ppm, 8) Feique Whitening Anti-Freckle Cream (Russian characters), 22,200 ppm, 9) Feique Golden Aloe Whitening Anti-Scar Anti-Freckle Set, 19,600 ppm and 10) Lamb Placenta Whitening and Anti-Aging Cream, 12,200 ppm.

Citing information from the World Health Organization (WHO), the EcoWaste Coalition warned that the mercury in skin lightening products can damage the kidney and also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections. Other effects include anxiety, depression or psychosis and peripheral neuropathy.

According to WHO, mercury in soaps, creams and other cosmetic products is eventually discharged into wastewater. The mercury then enters the environment, where it becomes methylated and enters the food-chain as the highly toxic methylmercury in fish.

Pregnant women who consume fish containing methylmercury transfer the mercury to their fetuses, which can later result in neurodevelopmental deficits in the children, the WHO said.

Mercury in personal care products such as skin whitening creams and soaps has become a hot issue not only in the Philippines but also overseas.

In the United States, for instance, California health officials has announced that it will collect and test skin whitening products this week for possible mercury contamination.

-end-

Reference:
http://www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/mercury_flyer.pdf

Skin whitening creams with mercury as tested by the EcoWaste Coalition on February 1, 2012 (arranged according to their mercury contents):

1. Beauty Girl 10 Double Whitening Speckles Removed Essence Cream (Natural Olive and Sheep), 72,100 ppm
2. Bai Li Tou Hong, 65,700 ppm
3. Ailke Perfection Salvation Rosy Whitening A + B, 55,300 ppm
4. Long Dian Tu Glutathione Pearl Natural Whitening Essence Cream, 50,800 ppm.
5. Beauty Girl 10-Day Whitening Speckles Removed Essence Cream (Ginseng and Green Cucumber), 48,300 ppm
6. Feique Rose Refining Nourishing Set Cream, 30,200 ppm
7. Jonathan 12-day Clearing Facial Spots Cream, 24,500 ppm
8. Feique Whitening Anti-Freckle Cream (Russian characters), 22,200 ppm
9. Feique Golden Aloe Whitening Anti-Scar Anti-Freckle Set, 19,600 ppm
10. Lamb Placenta Whitening and Anti-Aging Cream, 12,200 ppm
11. Forever Beauty 10-Day Special Cream, 12,100 ppm
12. Beauty Girl 10-Day Whitening Speckles Removed Essence Cream (Aloe Pearl), 11,100 ppm
13. S'Zitang 10-Day Whitening and Spot Day-Night Set, 6,169 ppm
14. Jiao Li 7-Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB set, 6,026 ppm
15. Jiao Li 2 + 1 7-Day Clearing Facial Spots Suit, 5,006 ppm
16. Beauty Girl Double White SPF17AP Whitening Cream, 3,998 ppm
17. “Special Cream, two in one” (Chinese characters) , 1,745 ppm
18. “Special Cream, single” (Chinese characters), 1,567 ppm
19. JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream, 1,130 ppm
20. Jiao Li Miraculous Cream, 1.3 ppm