27 July 2012

EcoWaste Coalition Bats for Non-Toxic Destruction of Illegal Gambling Machines

(Striker Jem, Mindanao Magazine)

A waste and pollution watchdog has appealed to local government and police officials to stop the practice of breaking confiscated TV sets used in illegal “video karera” (VK) gambling activities.

The practice of smashing TVs with mallets or sledgehammers by concerned officials, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out, is turning the gambling problem into a real chemical pollution with far reaching implications.

“While it seems to make a good photo op for government and police authorities, the crushing, dumping or burning of TVs and other gambling paraphernalia is extremely injurious to human health and the environment and sends the wrong message about the management of unwanted electronics,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition's Project Protect.

“Improper destruction of gambling apparatuses and materials, particularly the TVs, causes their hazardous components to scatter not only in the immediate surroundings, but even in remote dumpsites and landfills where these are finally disposed of and thus polluting the air, soil and water, “ he added.

The confiscated gambling equipment should have been sent to government-accredited hazardous waste recycling and treatment facilities where the same can be properly dismantled to prevent and reduce toxic releases into the environment, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Old analog TV sets, which are often imported and used for illicit gambling business, contain a nasty mix of chemical substances belonging to the World Health Organization’s “ten chemicals of major public health concern,” the Stockholm Convention’s persistent organic pollutants, or POPs, as well as the Philippine “Priority Chemicals List.”

Among these poisonous substances are heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, copper and mercury, and flame retardant chemicals such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers.

Analog TVs contain huge quantities of lead, a toxic chemical that interferes with brain development, ranging from four to eight pounds that are mostly found in the cathode ray tubes.

According to the WHO, “children are particularly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of lead and even relatively low levels of exposure can cause serious and, in some cases, irreversible neurological damage.”

During the past months, the EcoWaste Coalition has monitored media reports detailing the destruction of VK machines in the cities of Caloocan and Manila and in the Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon (CALABARZON) region as part of the government’s drive to beat illegal gaming.

Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim presided over the destruction of about a 100 VK machines from February to May, 2012.

Caloocan Mayor Enrico Echiverri led the smashing of 50 VK equipment last July 9 at the newly inaugurated Barugo Police Station in Barangay 175.

Laguna Governor Emilio Ramon Ejercito on June 25 led the destruction of over 100 VK TVs at Camp Heneral Paciano Rizal in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.

While, Cavite police officials destroyed some 40 VK machines on July 2 at the Police Provincial Office in Trece Martirez City.

In 2011, the EcoWaste Coalition noted that the Butuan City government and police officials destroyed and set ablaze some 25 VK machines on March 9 at the City Hall grounds, while 17 VK units were also smashed and then burned by barangay leaders on February 14 in Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City.

-end-

24 July 2012

EcoWaste Coalition Hails Impending Plastic Bag and Styro Ban in Manila

(EcoWaste Coalition's delegation at the Session Hall of Manila City Council with Hon. Councilors Danilo Victor Lacuna, Ernesto Dionisio, Edward Maceda, Cristina Isip, John Marvin "Yul Servo" Nieto and Numero Lim, 24 July 2012)


The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network promoting sustainable lifestyle and zero waste, lauded the looming citywide ban on plastic bags and polystyrene containers in Manila.

Manila City Ordinance 7393 once approved by the City Council and signed by Mayor Alfredo Lim will ban the use of plastic bags for dry goods and regulate their use for wet goods, and altogether bans polystyrene as container for food, produce and other products.

The ordinance will also prohibit business establishments from offering or selling plastic bags as primary or secondary packaging for dry goods, and disallow barangay collection of discarded plastics unless these are first cleaned and dried.

The ordinance, sponsored by Councilors Jocelyn Dawis-Asuncion, Cristina Isip, Numero Lim and Ma. Sheilah Lacuna-Pangan and co-sponsored by 34 other councilors, was scheduled for third and final reading yesterday, July 24.

However, the City Council decided to defer its approval pending the publication of an erratum to rectify an error in the published text of the draft ordinance.

“We laud the Manila councilors for crossing party lines to ensure broad support for this timely environmental policy that promises a cleaner and non-toxic future for the city’s residents. Through this ordinance, Manila joins an expanding league of local government units that have taken bold action to beat the plastic bag scourge,” said Sonia Mendoza of Mother Earth Foundation and head of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force on Plastics.

Among a host of reasons, the proponents pointed to the “urgent need” for the authorities and the people to address the perennial garbage disposal and flood woes afflicting the city and adversely affecting the public health, the economy and the environment.

“It is high time that Manila imposes prohibitions on the use of plastic bags to stop the practice of indiscriminate disposal of this material and protect what remains of our environment,” said District II Council Numero Lim, one of the sponsors.

Discards survey conducted in 2006 and 2010 by the EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and Greenpeace found plastic bags comprising 51.4 and 27.7 percent respectively of the flotsam in Manila Bay. Plastics in general, including plastic bags, made up 76.9 and 75.55 percent respectively.

"The approval of the ordinance and its enforcement will be a splendid gift by the government and people of Manila to Manila Bay as the iconic, but severely polluted water body undergoes cleanup and rehabilitation," said Christina Vergara, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Since a ban on plastic bags does not necessarily mean a shift to paper bags, the proposed ordinance provides for the promotion of ecological packaging from indigenous materials and a “Bring Your Own Bag/Bayong” program.

The Department of Public Services is tasked to conduct feasibility studies and livelihood projects for the production and distribution of natural replacements for plastic bags and polystyrene containers such as packaging materials made from banana, bamboo, buri, pandan, water hyacinth and other native materials.

“The promotion of such indigenous replacements to plastic bags and polystyrene containers will not only create job prospects for Manila’s residents, but could even spur sustainable economic activities in our rural communities,” observed Vergara.

To show the huge economic potentials of going ecological with bayong, the EcoWaste Coalition cited a study by the Department of Trade’s Bayong Development Project saying that “if every family above the poverty threshold buys a bayong at P100 per year, the domestic demand shall reach P1.3 billion annually.”

“It is further estimated that 40% of the total or P520 million will redound to the labor sector, numbering 16,000 nationwide,” according to the DTI.

-end-

Reference:


http://www.dti.gov.ph/dti/index.php?p=154&type=2&sec=5&aid=46

23 July 2012

EcoWaste Coalition Bares Sale of Harmful Toys Outside MM Public Schools

A toxics watchdog has revealed that toys containing health-damaging chemicals are being sold to public school children right at their doorstep.

The EcoWaste Coalition made the revelation after subjecting 171 assorted children’s products to chemicals analysis last July 19 using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer.

The samples, with prices ranging from P2 to P50, were purchased on July 17-19 from vendors and stores in the immediate vicinity of 18 public elementary schools in Metro Manila's 17 local government units.

“Dangerous chemical ingredients in toys may eventually end up being chewed and ingested by kids who are completely unmindful of the hazards posed by these substances,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“We request the Department of Education, together with other stakeholders, to take essential measures that will protect children from being exposed to harmful chemicals in toys,” he said.

Of the 171 samples, 54 items (32%) were found to contain heavy metals above levels of concern, including lead, a brain poison chemical that causes low IQ, poor school performance and behavioral problems.

On the other hand, 117 items (68%) had no detectable heavy metals or contained low levels of these chemicals, indicating the commercial and technical viability of making cleaner and safer toys.

Mostly “made in China,” the toys had zero or incomplete product information. None of tainted samples indicated they contain lead or other chemicals of concern, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

50 of the 54 tainted samples had lead up to 7,962 parts per million (ppm), way above the US regulatory limit of 90 ppm.

A notorious neurotoxin with no safe level of exposure, lead can be transferred to children through exposure to contaminated products such as toys.

“Hand to mouth activities, which are typical among young children, could result to a higher intake of lead-containing paint chip and dust from contaminated toys as well as other sources such as lead-painted walls, ceilings, furniture and fixtures, and playground equipment,” warned pediatric toxicologist Dr. Bessie Antonio of the East Avenue Medical Center.

Among the five samples that registered with the highest amounts of lead were 1) a toy ring, 7,962 ppm, 2) a "Loplop" strap ruler, 7,688 ppm, 3) an "Emo" neck pouch wallet, 6,034 ppm, 4) a "Totoy Bato" necklace, 4,395 ppm, and 5) a "Crystal Slime" with ruler, 4,318 ppm.

Lead was also detected in the containers and packaging of five junk food products, all sold at P5 only, in the range of 93 ppm to 352 ppm.

Aside from lead, the EcoWaste Coalition also reported finding traces of other chemicals of concern such as antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium and mercury in some of the toy samples.

The presence of multiple chemicals of concerns in some products even in trace levels raises some valid questions about the health effects of chemical mixtures, especially to children’s health, the EcoWaste Coalition noted.

The group procured the samples from Caloocan City (Caloocan Elementary School), Las Piñas City (Pamplona Central Elementary School), Makati City (Francisco Benitez Elementary School), Malabon City (Malabon Elementary School), Mandaluyong City (Mandaluyong Elementary School), Manila City (Paaralang Santa Ana), Marikina City (Barangka Elementary School), Muntinlupa City (Muntinlupa Elementary School) and Navotas City (Navotas Elementary School).

Samples were likewise obtained from Parañaque City (Tambo Elementary School), Pasay City (Gotamco Elementary School), Pasig City (Pasig Elementary School), Pateros (Pateros Elementary School), Quezon City (Tatalon Elementary School and Quirino Elementary School), San Juan City (Pinaglabanan Elementary School), Taguig City (Taguig Elementary School) and Valenzuela City (Pio Valenzuela Elementary School).

21 July 2012

EcoWaste Coalition Urges Congress to Enact Safe Toys Law (32% of Cheap Toys Sold Outside Public Elementary Schools Found Toxic)

A toxics watchdog has put forward an urgent appeal before lawmakers even have time to warm their seats with the resumption of the 15th Congress: enact a safe toys bill.

In its second “State of the Toys Analysis” (SOTA) released ahead of President Benigno Aquino III’s “State of the Nation Address (SONA),” the EcoWaste Coalition reported detecting toxic metals above levels of concern in 54 (32%) of 171 assorted children’s products tested on July 19, 2012 using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) chemicals analyzer.

The group also reported that 68% of the samples had no detectable heavy metals or contained low levels of these chemicals, signifying the commercial and technical viability of producing cleaner and safer toys.

“The results of our investigation should induce Congress into swiftly enacting a law that will ban health-damaging chemicals in toys and other common children’s products. President Aquino and Congress need to act with dispatch to prevent toxic exposure from unregistered, unlabeled and unsafe toys. We urge them to add this into their legislative priorities," Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition's Project Protect.

"A robust law should compel the toy industry to shape up and make children’s health and safety a top corporate responsibility,” he added.

The product samples, mostly “made in China” toys and carried zero or incomplete product information, were bought on July 17-19, 2012 from stores and vendors in the immediate vicinity of public elementary schools in 17 local government units in Metro Manila.

The samples were obtained from Caloocan City (Caloocan Elementary School), Las Piñas City (Pamplona Central Elementary School), Makati City (Francisco Benitez Elementary School), Malabon City (Malabon Elementary School), Mandaluyong City (Mandaluyong Elementary School), Manila City (Paaralang Santa Ana), Marikina City (Barangka Elementary School), Muntinlupa City (Muntinlupa Elementary School) and Navotas City (Navotas Elementary School).

Samples were likewise obtained from Parañaque City (Tambo Elementary School), Pasay City (Gotamco Elementary School), Pasig City (Pasig Elementary School), Pateros (Pateros Elementary School), Quezon City (Tatalon Elementary School and Quirino Elementary School), San Juan City (Pinaglabanan Elementary School), Taguig City (Taguig Elementary School) and Valenzuela City(Pio Valenzuela Elementary School).

Out of the 171 samples, lead, a brain poison chemical that causes low IQ, poor school performance and behavioral problems, was found in 50 samples up to 7,962 parts per million (ppm), way above the US regulatory limit of 90 ppm.

A notorious neurotoxin with no safe level of exposure, lead can be transferred to children through exposure to contaminated products such as toys.

“Hand to mouth activities, which are typical among young children, could result to a higher intake of lead-containing paint chip and dust from contaminated toys as well as other sources such as lead-painted walls, ceilings, furniture and fixtures, and playground equipment,” warned pediatric toxicologist Dr.Bessie Antonio of the East Avenue Medical Center.

Among the five samples that registered with the highest amounts of lead were 1) a silver toy ring, 7,962 ppm, 2) a "Loplop" strap ruler,7,688 ppm, 3) an "Emo" neck pouch wallet, 6,034 ppm, 4) a "Totoy Bato" necklace, 4,395 ppm, and 5) a "Crystal Slime" with ruler, 4,318ppm.

Lead was also detected in the containers and packaging of five junk food products, all sold at P5 only, in the range of 93 ppm to 352 ppm.

Lead-containing articles, particularly plastic food containers, may eventually end up being chewed by kids who are totally unaware of the dangers lurking in their toys, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Aside from lead, the EcoWaste Coalition also reported finding other chemicals of concern such as antimony, arsenic, barium, cadmium,chromium and mercury in some of the toy samples.

Barium, for instance, was detected in 15 samples, including a toy xylophone with10,000 ppm and a mini “Choco dippin stick” food container with 12,400 ppm, way above the US soluble content limit of 1,000 ppm.

The presence of multiple chemicals of concerns in some products even in trace levels raises some valid questions about the health effects of chemical mixtures, especially to children’s health, the EcoWaste Coalition noted.

In its first SOTA in July 2011, the EcoWaste Coalition, together with IPEN (a global civil society network for a toxics-free future),reported that 30% of the 200 children’s products the group bought from Baclaran, Divisoria and some shopping malls and then tested with XRF had toxic metals above levels of concern.

As a result of the EcoWaste Coalition’s exposé, lawmakers from both houses of the Congress filed resolutions calling for “an inquiry in aid of legislation” that will phase out the use of lead and other harmful chemicals in toys.

The House Committee on Health, led by Rep. Alfredo MarañonIII, is deliberating a bill introduced by Reps. Susan Yap, Cinchona Cruz-Gonzales and Anthony del Rosario that seeks “to reduce and eliminate dangerous, toxic and hazardous chemicals from children’s products.”

-end-

09 July 2012

Payatas Dumpsite Tragedy 12 Years Later: When Shall We Learn?

In observance of the 12th anniversary of the Payatas dumpsite tragedy in Quezon City, the EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, urged the Aquino government and the Filipino people not to forget the dreadful manmade disaster and instead learn from it.

Twelve years ago, on July 10, an avalanche of garbage in Payatas dumpsite collapsed due to incessant rains brought about by typhoons “Edeng” and “Ditang” burying hundreds of residents alive and killing over 300 women, men and children.

“The lessons of Payatas remain relevant today as we continue to wrestle with our burgeoning waste problems. Sadly, the misfortune that shocked our nation and the world was apparently not enough to move us into embracing real solutions to the persistent garbage crisis,” said Von Hernandez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Instead of shutting down, cleaning up and decontaminating the perilous dumpsites, illegal waste disposal facilities continue to exist in total violation of R.A.9003,” he noted.

"Nothing much has changed under P-Noy's administration. The implementation of the law still leaves much to be desired," he added.

R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, directs the closure of open and controlled dumpsites by February 16, 2004 and February 16, 2006,respectively.

Latest data obtained from the website of the National Solid Waste Management Commission list 643 open and 384 controlled dumpsites nationwide.

RA 9003 further directs the establishment of materials recovery facilities (MRFs), also known as ecology centers, in every barangay or cluster of barangays to promote and support waste prevention and reduction at grassroots level.

"Many bureaucrats and politicians remain fixated with garbage disposal through landfills and even waste incinerators instead of implementing robust ecological solid waste management programs anchored on waste prevention, reduction, separation at source, reuse, recycling and composting," Hernandez commented.

To eradicate dependence on costly garbage disposal facilities, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the authorities to carry out community-driven and socially inclusive Zero Waste resource management program to reduce the volume and toxicity of garbage and divert reusable, recyclable and compostable materials away from cement kilns, incinerators, landfills and dumpsites.

If the country has only learned from the lessons of Payatas, there would have been no more deadly dumpsite incidents after it, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

In 2011 alone, two major garbage slides occurred in Baguio City on August 27 at the Irisan dumpsite that killed five people and in Olongapo City on September 27 at Barangay New Cabalan that claimed three lives, the group said.

To avert more dumpsite incidents, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated its call for a decisive closure, cleanup and rehabilitation of all dumpsites.

Dumpsite closure, cleanup and rehabilitation plans, the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized, should observe certain “best practices,” including the organization of a multipartite monitoring team per facility with strong public representation, the historical assessment of dumped waste materials to ascertain the necessary remedial measures, the establishment of leachate collection and treatment systems, and the implementation of an action plan to address the livelihood and housing needs of informal recyclers.
-end-

06 July 2012

Bishop, Watchdog Decry Illegal Sale of Poisonous Silver Jewelry Cleaner

(CBCP News)
A senior Catholic Church leader and a toxics watchdog jointly urged the government to go on the offensive against dealers of deadly silver jewelry cleaning solutions.

“The unlawful trade of cyanide-laced silver cleaning agents has not stopped and so are the deadly poisoning incidents involving the weak and the poor.We appeal to the authorities to firmly get to the bottom of this problem and bring the senseless killings to a close,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

For his part, Caloocan Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr. said: "I join the EcoWaste Coalition in their effort to protect the human health and the environment against cyanide poisoning. Those who flaunt the law against the sale of toxic silver jewelry cleaner must be identified and held accountable for this brazen crime that has already taken so many lives."

Bishop Iñiguez, who is also the Chairman of the Public Affairs Committee of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, made the statement after the EcoWaste Coalition's AlerToxic Patrol obtainedbottles of illegal silver cleaner in test buys conducted on June 28-July 1, 2012 in five cities in Metro Manila.

The unregistered and improperly labeled silver cleaning products are sold from P30 to P150 in some silver jewelry shops in major shopping malls in Makati, Manila, Mandaluyong, Pasay and Quezon Cities.

The banned items are discreetly sold by most vendors except at Victory Pasay Mall and Welcome Plaza in Pasay City where the items are placed on display in glass cabinets of silver jewelry shops, the EcoWaste Coalition noted.

In their letter to Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona, Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, Food and Drug Administration Director Nicolas B. Lutero III and Environmental Management Bureau Director Juan Miguel T. Cuna, the EcoWaste Coalition expressed dismay over the continued sale of toxic silver cleaner and their use as suicidal potion by persons suffering from emotional, financial, health and relationship issues.

At least five people aged 17 to 62 have died from January to June 2012 due to the deliberate ingestion of cyanide-containing silver cleaner, according to the media monitoring by the EcoWaste Coalition.

The EcoWaste Coalition has requested Secretaries Ona and Paje to convene a multistakeholders’ committee to review the implementation of the Joint DOH-DENR Advisory, Series of 2010-0001.

Signed on 24 September 2010 by the two incumbent Secretaries, the advisory bans the sale of silver jewelry cleaning solutions containing cyanide and other toxic substances, and further bans the importation, manufacturing, distribution and sale of silver cleaners without product registration and labeling.

The EcoWaste Coalition also appealed to the authorities to conduct a random inspection of silver jewelry shops in major commercial hubs and shopping malls and decisively apprehend and charge violators of the ban.

The group also asked government regulators to reach out to the management of shopping malls and entice them to help in policing silver jewelry shops doing business in their premises.

Cyanide and its compounds, which are among the 48 substances in the Philippine Priority Chemicals List, are highly toxic to people and marine life even at low concentrations.

Exposure to cyanide through eye or skin contact, inhalation and ingestion can cause irritation, rash, bluish skin color, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, nausea, headache, blindness, suffocation, lung congestion, convulsions, paralysis, coma and death.

-end-

05 July 2012

Beware of E-Waste

Waste recyclers from Linis-Ganda partners in Makati, Mandaluyong, Manila, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Pasay, Pasig, San Juan, Taguig and Quezon Cities join the EcoWaste Coalition's educational event at the Quezon City Hall that brought to light the many dangers of discarded electrical and electronic products or e-waste. According to the EcoWaste Coalition, seemingly harmless electrical appliances, devices and gadgets contain loads of lead, mercury and other heavy metals, flame retardant substances and other chemical compounds that pose real health risks, especially if improperly disassembled, recycled or disposed of. The event is part of the EcoWaste Coalition's ongoing outreach to the informal waste sector that seeks to promote the recyclers' health and safety from hazardous chemicals.





DepEd Urged to Require Lead-Free Chairs and Tables from Suppliers

While welcoming the recent approval of P941.3 million budget for the purchase of much-needed school chairs and tables, a toxics watchdog appealed to the Department of Education (DepEd) to demand certified lead-free furniture from bidders and suppliers.

“We call upon Secretary Armin Luistro to ensure that no lead contaminated furniture that could expose children to harm would be purchased using the taxpayers’ money and brought to the classrooms,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“DepEd should require bidders to provide chairs and tables that comply with standard and supported with a conformity certification,” he suggested.

The standard for furniture articles under the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act is 90 parts per million (ppm).

“Sources of lead exposure among children, especially at homes, schools and playgrounds, must be eliminated as childhood lead exposure may damage the brain and cause reduced IQ and school performance,” Dizon said.

During the last Brigada Eskwela, the EcoWaste Coalition analyzed some chairs and tables using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device in one public school in Cavite and detected 1,007 ppm of lead in a student chair and 3,155 ppm in a teacher table. A day care center, also in Cavite, had chairs and tables with excessive levels of lead up to 13,600 ppm.

It also found 187 ppm of lead in a student chair, 3,574 ppm in a teacher chair and 3,648 ppm in a teacher table in one day-care center in Quezon City.

“We are ready to assist DepEd in screening school furniture as well as school amenities for lead and other toxic metals using our XRF device,” Dizon stated.

Lead, a toxic element that is notorious for damaging the developing brain and nervous system, is among the World Health Organization’s “Top 10 Chemicals of Major Public Health Concern.”

According to the WHO, “children are particularly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of lead, and even relatively low levels of exposure can cause serious and in some cases irreversible neurological damage.”

“Childhood lead exposure is estimated to contribute to about 600,000 new cases of children with intellectual disabilities every year,” the WHO warned.

To prevent childhood exposure to lead, the WHO, among others, has recommended some risk mitigation measures, including phasing out lead in paints and eliminating the use of lead in homes, schools, school materials and children’stoys.

Citing information from the government’s Official Gazette, the EcoWaste Coalition lauded the decision by the Department of Budget and Management (DMB) releasing P941.3 million to DepEd from the 2012 General Appropriations Act.

The said amount will be charged against DepEd’s Lump Sum for the Requirement of Basic Educational Facilities and will be used to procure chairs and tables for needy public elementary and high schools.

According to the DBM, recipient schools will get 45 arm chairs and a chair-and-table set for the class instructor/teacher for every classroom.

-end-

References:

http://www.gov.ph/2012/07/04/deped-nails-p941-3-m-fund-for-school-furniture/

http://www.who.int/ipcs/features/lead..pdf

03 July 2012

Eco-Groups Push for a National Plastic Bag Ban in Observance of International Plastic Bag-Free Day

Green groups and supporters from local government units, beauty queens and church groups today converge at Quezon City’s Mega-Q Mart to celebrate the International PlasticBag Free Day.

Bearing reusable bags and placards, some 150 members of the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network advocating for the proper implementation of RA 9003 or the Ecologial Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, bought goods and simultaneously “froze” in their respective positions for three minutes at the sound of siren signals.

“We held a ‘freeze’mob to symbolize how the national law banning plastic bags have frozen in the legislature,” pointed out Sonia Mendoza, Task Force Plastics Head of EcoWaste Coalition. “It is past time our national government reanimate and enact the pending law banning plastic bags, and unite with forward thinking LGUs. Local bans are in all sense growing with Makati joining the movement and Muntinlupa taking the ban to another level, but they remain to be local,” she adds.

As of last count there are more than 25 LGUs that have banned or regulated plastic bags.

Zero Waste Campaigner Christina Vergara of the EcoWaste Coalition stated that, “With the Chief Justice Impeachment Trial, we understand that our legislature had to deal with urgent matters, and now that it is over it is time our hardworking lawmakers finally impeach the bag.”

For years, zero waste advocates have been calling for a national plastic bag ban that will:

∙ phase-out all kinds of plastic bags

∙ promote reusable bags using natural fibers

∙ espouse take-back/collection mechanisms and recycling

∙ support LGUs in their waste management initiatives;

∙ impose environmental levy on plastic bags; and

∙ for accountability purposes, label so-called “degradable” plastic bags to show name of manufacturers, manufacturing date, and the degradation period of the bag.

In a broad sense, a plastic bag ban is both a climate change mitigation measure and a disaster risk reduction response.

Recently, China came out with a statement [i] through its National Development and Reform Commission that says their plastic bag ban launched four years ago has helped the nation save 4.8 million tons of oil ~ or an equivalent of 6.8 million tons of standard coal.

"The ban has played a positive role in energy and resources savings, environmental protection, and addressing climate change," said Li Jing, vice chief of the energy saving and environment protection department under the NDRC.

LGUs that banned the bag also report of remarkable reduction of flooding in their areas most notable of which was in Muntinlupa.

For her part, Miss Philippines Earth 2012 Stephany Stefanowitz added that, “‘Convenience’ had been our convenient excuse for putting up with plastic bags but we never really know how unwieldy plastic bags are until we see the harm they bring. Not only are we harming our urban landscapes, our water bodies, and sea creatures, we are harming ourselves in the process too.”

To hammer the message home, the EcoWaste Coalition introduced a happy “family”of eco-lovers comprised of Mang Bayong, Aling Katsa, Nonoy Timba and NenengBasket during the event.

Discards survey conducted in 2006 and 2010 by EcoWaste Coalition, Greenpeace, and Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives found plastic bags comprising 51.4 and 27.7 percent respectively of the flotsam in Manila Bay. Plastics in general, including plastic bags, made up 76.9 and 75.55 percent respectively.

Annually, the world produces 200 million tonnes of plastics. Using conservative estimates, if bags have an average weight of 32.5 g and size of 900 cm2, we will be able to encircle the earth more than 41,000 times.

Participating groups of the International Plastic Bag-Free Day include the EcoWaste Coalition, Asilo de laMilagrosa-Cebu, Ban Toxics!, Bangon Kalikasan, Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, Citizens' Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, De La Salle University -Dasmariňas, De La Salle Santiago Zobel, Diocese of Caloocan Ecology Ministry, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Health Care Without Harm, Ministry on Ecology – St. Joseph the Worker (GMA), Miss Earth Foundation, Mother Earth Foundation, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, Piglas Kabataan, Samahang Pagkakaisa ng mga Tindera sa Talipapa, Sanib Lakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod ng Inang Kalikasan, University of Cebu College of Law and Zero Waste Philippines.

Local government officials and representatives participating in the event include Councilor Numero Lim of Manila City; representatives from the Office of Mayor Herbert Bautista and Councilor Doray Delarmente of Quezon City; Department of Environmental Sanitation Center of Muntinlupa City; Department of Environmental Services of Makati City; and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

[i] http://english.people.com.cn/202936/7853299.html

02 July 2012

Toxics Watchdog Slams Continued Sale of Poisonous Silver Jewelry Cleaner

The EcoWaste Coalition today urged the government to intensify its drive to rid the market of deadly silver jewelry cleaning solutions.

The toxics watchdog appealed for urgent enforcement action after obtaining bottles of illegal silver cleaner in test buys conducted by the group’s AlerToxic Patrol on June 28 - July 1, 2012 in five cities in Metro Manila.

“The unlawful trade of cyanide-laced silver cleaning agents has not stopped and so are the deadly poisoning incidents involving the weak and the poor. We appeal to the authorities to firmly get to the bottom of this problem and bring the senseless killings to a close,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

The unregistered and improperly labeled silver cleaning products are sold from P30 to P150 in some silver jewelry shops in Guadalupe, Makati City; Starmall, Mandaluyong City; Robinsons’ Place, Ermita, Manila; Victory Pasay Mall and Welcome Plaza, Pasay City; and Farmers’ Plaza, Cubao, Quezon City.

The banned items are discreetly sold by most vendors except at Victory Pasay Mall and Welcome Plaza in Pasay City where the items are placed on display in glass cabinets of silver jewelry shops, the EcoWaste Coalition noted.

In their letter to Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona, Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, Food and Drug Administration Director Nicolas B. Lutero III and Environmental Management Bureau Director Juan Miguel T. Cuna, the EcoWaste Coalition expressed dismay over the continued sale of toxic silver cleaner and their use as suicidal potion by persons suffering from emotional, financial, health and relationship issues.

At least five people aged 17 to 62 have died from January to June 2012 due to the deliberate ingestion of cyanide-containing silver cleaner, according to the media monitoring by the EcoWaste Coalition.

To get to the bottom of the problem, the EcoWaste Coalition requested Secretaries Ona and Paje to convene a multistakeholders’ committee to review the implementation of the Joint DOH-DENR Advisory, Series of 2012-0001.

Signed on 24 September 2010 by the two incumbent Secretaries, the advisory bans the sale of silver jewelry cleaning solutions containing cyanide and other toxic substances, and further bans the importation, manufacturing, distribution and sale of silver cleaners without product registration and labeling.

The EcoWaste Coalition also appealed to the authorities to conduct a random inspection of silver jewelry shops in major commercial hubs and shopping malls and decisively apprehend and charge violators of the ban.

The group also asked government regulators to reach out to the management of shopping malls and entice them to help in policing silver jewelry shops doing business in their premises.

Cyanide and its compounds, which are among the 48 substances in the Philippine Priority Chemicals List, are highly toxic to people and marine life even at low concentrations.

Exposure to cyanide through eye or skin contact, inhalation and ingestion can cause irritation, rash, bluish skin color, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, nausea, headache, blindness, suffocation, lung congestion, convulsions, paralysis, coma and death.

-end-

References:

1. Joint DOH-DENR Advisory re Silver Jewelry Cleaner:

http://www.google.com.ph/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&sqi=2&ved=0CEsQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fhome.doh.gov.ph%2Fmc%2Fmc2010-0066.pdf&ei=Be7wT6TQIc2emQWl_bHJDQ&usg=AFQjCNHem1insDeziggjNX7-EpkO7kH4fg

01 July 2012

FDA Urged to Go After Baclaran Traders of Mercury-Tainted Cosmetics

A toxics watchdog has asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to go on full-offensive against vendors of cosmetics containing mercury, an extremely harmful chemical.

“It’s high time for unscrupulous traders to face the strong arm of the law for selling hazardous products laced with mercury,” said Manny Calonzo, EcoWaste Coalition’s OIC.

“Unless and until the FDA has shown it means business in combating this illegal trade, the sale of these dangerous products will not cease,” he added.

In a letter e-mailed yesterday to FDA OIC-Director Atty. Nicolas B. Lutero III, the EcoWaste Coalition told the agency about the uncontrolled sale of banned skin whitening products at the Baclaran Terminal Plaza in Pasay City.

An ocular investigation conducted by the group’s AlerToxic Patrol on June 30 showed that at least five of the 50 brands of skin whitening creams banned under the FDA Advisory 2011-012 were openly sold at the said mall.

The FDA advisory banned the 50 products for containing mercury above the allowable limit of one part per million and without the benefit of notification with the agency.

These five proscribed products include 1) Jiaoli Miraculous Cream,2) Jiaoli 7-Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, 3) Miss Beauty Excellent Therapy Whitening Cream (gold, blue and purple color), 4) Miss Beauty Excellent Therapy Whitening Cream (gold, brown and old rose color), and 5) S’Zitang.

Photos taken by the group showed the banned products on display in cosmetics shops located at store number SF-48, D 02-04, C 38-43, C 47 and K 9 of the Baclaran Terminal Plaza.

In view of its findings, the EcoWaste Coalition requested the FDA to:

1. Send a team of inspectors to confiscate the banned products that are being sold in the area, issue on-the-spot notice of violation against shops caught in flagrante delicto and, if possible, immediately impose a temporary closure order.

2. Meet and forge an agreement with the management of the Baclaran Terminal Plaza that will encourage them to cooperate with the FDA, particularly in the enforcement of prohibitions against the manufacturing, importation, distribution and sale of cosmetics containing excessive amounts of mercury in their premises, as well as hold them responsible, together with non-compliant shops, for any violation of FDA-issued ban or recall orders

According to the World Health Organization (WHO),the main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage.

Mercury in skin lightening products, the WHO said, may also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.

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, the WHO explained.

WHO has warned that pregnant women who consume fish containing methylmercury transfer the mercury to their fetuses, which can later result in neurodevelopmental deficits in the children.

-end-

Reference:
http://www.fda.gov.ph/Advisory/FA2011-012_cr.pdf

http://www.health-e.org.za/documents/184ab9bfffaf12d11ef4bc37a50ebd40.pdf