26 February 2013

Environmentalists Ask Politicians, "Berde Ka Ba?"

(Veejay Villafranca/Greenpeace)
Popular superheroes, led by the Hulk, the Green Lantern, and Ben 10, together with local eco-warriors Super Walang Aksaya, Boy Bayong, and PCB Eliminator trooped to the offices of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Intramuros today to launch an initiative that aims to place the environment as one of the top issues of concern in the 2013 national elections.
The superheroes were accompanied by activists from the Greenpeace, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Buklod-Tao and Gulayan Pilapil Neighborhood Association (GPNAI). The activists wore green eye masks as they promoted their 2013 Green Electoral Initiative (GEI) entitled “Berde ka ba?” – a survey on the environmental position of senatorial candidates.

First launched in 2007 by Greenpeace and EcoWaste Coalition, the Green Electoral Initiative is meant to remind politicians of their constitutional obligation as future public servants. It aims to ensure that the right of Filipinos to a “balanced and healthful ecology” is upheld and safeguarded.

“The country’s leaders should be green superheroes--not jokers or, worse, environmental villains,” said Francis dela Cruz, spokesperson for Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “Protecting the environment should be a key national policy and a priority election concern both for the candidates as well as the voting public. Environmental protection directly translates to economic benefits for the nation as a whole, for communities and for each individual Filipino.”

This year’s GEI theme is called “Berde ka ba?” and was inspired by the rising popularity of fliptop culture where people try to outwit each other through rap. While this initiative uses humor, it asks serious questions of senatorial bets and their political parties about their legislative agenda on the environment should they be voted into office.
For the 2013 electoral campaign, these advocacy groups will conduct an environmental survey based on the following agenda:
·         Budget appropriation for the implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste   Management Act
·         Ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment
·         Enacting a Public Right to Know Policy on pollution
·         Enacting a national plastic bag ban
·         Enacting laws that would eliminate toxics in consumer products
·         Enacting a law that would promote energy efficiency

In March, the environmental groups will gather senatorial candidates to a public forum to further expound on these pressing environmental issues.

“The senatoriables may have green pick-up lines which are effective in capturing the attention of the Filipino public,” said Edwin Alejo, National Coordinator for EcoWaste Coalition. “But they should go beyond mere rhetoric and pursue legislation that would ensure protection of the environment. Our
green eye masks signify our commitment to watch over these candidates relentlessly during the campaign period and to continue our vigilance until after they are elected.”
“While this initiative targets the candidates, “Berde ka ba?” also challenges the voting public to have a green conscience to ensure that the elections are clean and honest, and to think in behalf of the environment when they cast their votes on May 13,” said Paeng Lopez, spokesperson for GAIA.

25 February 2013

Public Urged: Don't Set Trash on Fire to Prevent Waste and Pollution

Huwag kang magsiga (don’t set your trash on fire)!

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, issued this reminder as the nation observes the Fire Prevention Month this coming March with the theme
“Sunog at Sakuna ay Paghandaan, Kalikasan ay Pangalagaan nang Matamasa ang Pag-unlad ng Bayan”

“The open burning of discards destroys and deprives our society with useful resources that could have
been reused, repurposed, recycled or composted, while producing a toxic concoction of chemicals that can pollute the air, contaminate the food supply and harm human health,” said Ochie Tolentino, Vice-President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Notwithstanding the many benefits of Zero Waste resource management, the open burning of discards goes unrestricted in many homes, construction sites, farmlands, dumps, informal recycling sites, and even in streets and parks, making a brazen mockery of our environmental laws” she lamented.

Two of the country’s major environmental laws, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (R.A. 9003) and the Clean Air Act (R.A. 8749), explicitly prohibit the open burning of municipal, medical and hazardous wastes. R.A. 9003, in particular, penalizes violators with a fine ranging from P300 to P1,000, or a one to 15-day imprisonment, or both.

Elaborating about the toxicity of open burning, Tolentino explained that such unlawful practice emits miniscule contaminants that can irritate the eyes, throat and skin, cause headaches, weaken respiratory functions and even bring about cancers.

These contaminants found in the by-product smoke, filth and ash of open burning include particulate matters, greenhouse gases, halogenated carbons, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, and dioxins and furans, which are classified as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) targeted for “continuing minimizationand, where feasible, ultimate elimination” under the Stockholm Convention that the Philippine Senate ratified in 2004.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, burning discards containing chlorine such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics and other chlorinated packaging materials are known to contribute to the high formation and emission of dioxins, a proven human carcinogen according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

As per World Health Organization, “dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer.”

Dioxins and some other chemical by-products of open burning are deposited on leafy plants that are eaten by farm animals or ingested by fish, accumulating in fatty tissues and then passed to humans through the consumption of dairy products, eggs, meat, fish and shellfish, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

To prevent exposure to dioxins and other harmful chemicals, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to stop open burning, embrace ecological waste management practices, reduce dietary intake of animal meat and fat, and seek measures to prevent and reduce emissions from other sources such as cement kilns burning wastes as alternative fuels, factories using elemental chlorine, dumpsites and waste incinerators.

The group issued the following 10 recommendations to reduce waste volume and toxicity, and halt the detrimental and wasteful practice of burning discards:

1. Consume responsibly, check for things that can be repaired, reused or recycled before heading to the store to buy new ones.

2. Repair or repurpose broken things rather than replacing or throwing them away.

3. Bring bayong or other reusable carry bags and containers when you shop; say no to plastic bags.

4. Buy in bulk or choose items with the least packaging to reduce packaging waste.

5. Avoid single-use, throw-away items: select products that can be washed, stored and used again.

6. Use second-hand, repaired and recycled products whenever available.

7. Segregate discards at source to cut waste volume, prevent bad smell, and keep flies, roaches and rodents under control.

8. Reuse and recycle non-biodegradable discards such as papers, bottles and cans as many times as you can.

9. Compost biodegradable discards such as kitchen scraps and garden trimmings for healthy soil and healthy food.

10. Give away unwanted stuff to street dwellers, fire victims or to charities instead of putting them into the garbage bins.

The EcoWaste Coalition is a national network of more than 150 public interest groups pursuing sustainable and just solutions to waste, climate change and chemical issues towards the envisioned Zero Waste 2020 goal.





20 February 2013

EcoWaste Coalition Uncovers Fake Nestle Mugs Tainted with High Levels of Lead

Counterfeit mugs bearing brand logos and trademarks of Nestlé, the world’s largest food and beverage company, are tainted with high levels of lead, a potent neurotoxin (nerve poison) that can permanently damage the brain.

The EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force on Chemical Safety issued the warning after analyzing 10 bogus mugs with KitKat, Milo, Nesvita and NESCAFÉ logos, sold from P20 to P35 per piece, that are enjoying brisk sales in bargain shops and sidewalk vendors in Divisoria, Quiapo and Sta. Cruz, Manila.

Through a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, the group found huge amounts of lead in all the 10 samples in the range of 3,470 to 76,200 parts per million. Significant traces of other heavy metals such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium and chromium were also detected.

“We decided to make public our findings after receiving a written reply from Nestlé Philippines confirming the brazen misuse of their brand logos and trademarks in these unauthorized mugs,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of Project Protect, EcoWaste Coalition.

"In the interest of consumer safety, we request Nestlé, together with responsible government agencies, to root out these toxic counterfeits and publicly reject the use of lead glazes and paints in mugs and other dinnerware,” he said, “as products designed for eating and drinking should not contain health-damaging substances such as lead, an irreversible toxin.”

As confirmed by Edita A. De Leon, Senior Vice-President and Head of Corporate Affairs Department, Nestlé Philippines “is not responsible for the manufacture and distribution of the mugs in question.”

“The mugs are undoubtedly manufactured by businessmen intent on riding on the popularity and goodwill of our brands, without any regard to public safety,” she pointed out.

“The mugs you have sent provided us with additional clues to aid our current investigation, for which we thank you,” de Leon said as she recognized the EcoWaste Coalition’s“ invaluable assistance in (the) company’s campaign against counterfeits."

Nestlé Philippines had requested the joint assistance of the Food and Drug Administration and the Intellectual Property Office "to clear the market of the subject mugs as soon as possible."

According to the XRF analysis conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition:

1. A fake KitKat mug had 76,200 ppm of lead, 13,100 ppm of cadmium, 8,304 of arsenic, 3,080 ppm of antimony and 525 ppm of chromium.

2. A fake Nesvita mug had 22,000 ppm of lead, 1,990 ppm of cadmium, 3,510 ppm of arsenic and 1,203 ppm of antimony.

3. All the 7 fake mugs bearing the NESCAFÉ logo had lead ranging from 3,470 to 16,700 ppm, as well as considerable amounts of antimony, arsenic, cadmium and chromium.

4. A fake Milo mug had 7,580 ppm of lead, 2,943 ppm of cadmium, 1,322 ppm of arsenic, 634 ppm of antimony and 1,801 ppm of chromium.

Arsenic, cadmium and lead are listed in the World Health Organization’s “10 chemicals of major public health concern,” as well as in the “Philippine Priority Chemical List,” along with chromium.

“Our latest probe shows that counterfeit food and beverage products pose real health and safety risks. Consumers should be extra vigilant and not fall into the trap just because counterfeits are cheaper. Irreparable brain damage due to lead exposure can be very costly in the long run,” Dizon noted.

Republic Act 8293, or the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, penalizes the unauthorized use of registered trademarks and logos with fines ranging from P50,000 to P1,500,000 and/or imprisonment from 6 to 9 years.

The EcoWaste Coalition is a national network of more than 150 public interest groups pursuing sustainable and just solutions to waste, climate change and chemical issues towards the envisioned Zero Waste 2020 goal.

19 February 2013

Cavite LGUs Enjoined to Stop Open Dumping at Manila Bay

“Ensure that open dumping is no longer practiced.”

Following a formal complaint by the EcoWaste Coalition last December 3, 2012, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) finally ordered Cavite Provincial Governor Juanito Victor C. Remulla, Jr. and Cavite City Mayor Romeo G. Ramos to act against open dumping, an act explicitly outlawed under Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

“We have patiently waited for the DENR to act on our complaint. All eyes are on Mayor Ramos to see if he will shut down and rehabilitate the city's illegal dumpsite by the Manila Bay,” said Ochie Tolentino, Coordinator of the Cavite Green Coalition and Vice-President of the EcoWaste Coalition. 

"The dumpsite rehabilitation should take into account the livelihood needs and occupational skills of the informal recyclers in the area who can surely help the city government in enforcing R.A. 9003 and in transforming into a Zero Waste city," she added.

In a letter sent by DENR Region IV-A Director Carlos J. Magno to Gov. Remulla and Mayor Ramos on January 30, 2013, copies of which were furnished to the complainant, the department enjoined the officials to address the open dumping in Barangay San Antonio, Cavite City.

Prior to sending the letter, the DENR regional office conducted on-site inspection, in coordination with Mr. Leonardo A. Notario, City Environment and Natural Resources Officer of Cavite City, to verify the complaint made by the EcoWaste Coalition et al.

As per report by the inspection team, the open dumpsite measuring about 1.8 hectares “is located at the sea and wastes could possibly extend to the sea.”

“A daily average of 19 trucks, 55-56 side cars/pedicabs and 2 carts loaded with mixed wastes are disposed of in the dumpsite from 7:00 am to 2:30 pm,” the report said.

Aside from the open dumping of mixed waste, the inspection team also reported other infringements of R.A. 9003 such as open burning of garbage, a major source of dioxin pollution.

Dir. Magno reminded the Cavite officials that R.A. 9003 forbids open dumping and open burning, and that open dumps and controlled dumps should have ceased operations on February 16, 2006.

Dir. Magno further reiterated that Cavite is within the watershed of Manila Bay and that local authorities should “cooperate in the cleaning up and rehabilitation of Manila Bay” as ordered by the Supreme Court in its landmark decision on December 18, 2008.

Last year, the EcoWaste Coalition and other green groups sought DENR’s “immediate and firm intervention” to stop illegal disposal activities at coastal cities and towns that exacerbate the pollution of Manila Bay. 

The EcoWaste Coalition is a national network of more than 150 public interest groups pursuing sustainable and just solutions to waste, climate change and chemical issues towards the envisioned Zero Waste 2020 goal.


18 February 2013

EcoWaste Warns vs Lead-Tainted Graduation Medals

An environmental network promoting Zero Waste schools and children’s safety from toxic chemicals has alerted school officials about graduation medals that may be tainted with lead, a chemical that can cause permanent brain injury.
In a statement released ahead of the graduation rites next month, the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force on Chemical Safety cautions private and public schools, as well as child care and learning centers, against procuring or accepting medals made of lead alloy or embellished with lead-containing paint.

The group urged school officials, particularly procurement personnel, to exercise utmost precaution when choosing and giving medals, reiterating that “even very low levels of lead cause brain damage in children.”

If the safety of the medals ordered or purchased is not guaranteed, the EcoWaste Coalition exhorted schools to advise recipients not to play with, bite, lick or suck on their medals to avoid the possibility of ingesting lead.  Children and other people are exposed to lead via inhalation, ingestion, and, in minimal cases, through skin absorption.
The EcoWaste Coalition issued the warning after analyzing the heavy metal contents of 30 medals, mostly for kindergarten, preparatory and grade school achievers, lent by colleagues or bought from medal makers in Sta. Cruz and Quiapo, Manila.
Using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, the group detected lead in 22 of the 30 samples (73%) way above the US allowable limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) for lead in paint or any similar surface coatings.  No detectable levels of lead were found in unpainted, generic "gold," "silver" and "bronze" medals.
A yellow-painted sample led the pack of “dirty medals,” with a whopping 123,800 ppm of lead.

The other top five “dirty medals” had elevated levels of lead at 74,400, 48,000, 46,100, 39,500 and 37,000  ppm each.

Two “unofficial” medals showing the blue and red logo of the Department of Education (DepEd) had 943 and 14,100 of lead, respectively.

“We find it odd that lead, a nasty chemical linked to delayed development, stunted growth, reduced IQ scores and behavioral problems, is used in making medals that are meant to savor a child’s academic and extra-curricular achievements,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“Experts have not identified a safe threshold for lead exposure, especially among kids.  This is why we insist that children’s products, including medals, school supplies and toys, should be certified lead-free.  We need to take every possible step to reduce lead exposure among our children,” she emphasized.

“DepEd should step in and direct schools to give out only child-safe medals with no lead and other chemicals of concern in austere, Zero Waste graduation rites,” she stated.

DepEd should amend its graduation guidelines and add in a policy that will protect youngsters from exposure to lead-containing medals, the EcoWaste Coalition suggested.
Citing information from the World Health Organization, the EcoWaste Coalition warned that “at high levels of acute exposure, lead attacks the brain and central nervous system to cause coma, convulsions and even death.”

“The consequences of brain injury from exposure to lead in early life are loss of intelligence, shortening of attention span and disruption of behaviour. Because the human brain has little capacity for repair, these effects are untreatable and irreversible,” the WHO said.

Aside from lead in products, some of the other major sources of children’s exposure as identified by the WHO are lead added to petrol, lead-based paints and pigments, lead in ceramic glazes, lead in electronic waste, lead released by the incineration of lead-containing waste, and lead in the food chain, via contaminated soil.

The EcoWaste Coalition is a national network of more than 150 public interest groups pursuing sustainable and just solutions to waste, climate change and chemical issues towards the envisioned Zero Waste 2020 goal.


14 February 2013

Valentine's Wish: DENR Chemical Control Order (CCO) vs Toxic Lead

Have a heart, let a strong health-based policy regulating lead and lead compounds be your Valentine’s gift to Filipino children, a civil society network for Zero Waste and chemical safety told environment officials today.

Armed with a hand-drawn Valentine’s card and a 4-page letter, representatives of the EcoWaste Coalition hammered home the message that a toxics-free environment safe from lead and other harmful substances and wastes is a birthright of every child.

In their letter to Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje and Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Director Juan Miguel T. Cuna, the group reiterated the need to finalize and approve the Chemical Control Order (CCO) for lead and lead compounds, pending since 2007, to protect human health and the environment from lead exposure and pollution.

“This essential effort was practically quiescent until 2011 when the EMB, responding to the clamor from public interest groups for a strong health-based policy, called for stakeholders’ meetings and thus resuscitating the dormant process and breathing new hope for the requested CCO,” Jeiel Guarino, Policy and Communications Officer for the Lead Paint Elimination Project, EcoWaste Coalition.

As of today, there seems to be no clear indication that the CCO after sixth revision will be finalized and approved soon enough to regulate lead and its compounds, which belong to the Philippine First Priority Chemicals List that the DENR has concluded “to potentially pose unreasonable risk to public health, workplace and the environment,” lamented the EcoWaste Coalition.

“The apparent delay, we regret to surmise, could be sending a wrong signal to the industries about the necessity and urgency to switch to non-lead inputs, particularly to the local paint industry, which has publicly drawn attention to the ‘lack of government regulation’,” Guarino said.

The need for a strong CCO has become even more evident and compelling, the EcoWaste Coalition noted, if the results of the group’s widely-publicized investigations on lead and other chemicals in products and to some extent, lead in dust, soil and waste, are taken into account.

In a global paint sampling in 2008, lead up to 189,164 ppm was detected in 67% of the 15 enamel paint samples from the Philippines that were analyzed in a government-accredited private laboratory in India (average lead content: 28,354 ppm). A follow-up study detected lead up to 161,651 ppm in 69% of 35 paint samples analyzed at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.

From 2011 up till now, the EcoWaste Coalition has discovered outrageous levels of lead in toys and other children’s articles, playground equipment, vinyl flooring materials, beverage and food containers and cosmetics and personal care products.

High concentrations of lead were also detected in seasonal products such as Chinese New Year lucky charms and ornaments, Christmas lights, candles, fireworks, and election campaign paraphernalia of late.
A strong health-based CCO for lead and lead compounds will contribute to the prevention and reduction of lead exposure from such avoidable sources, the group insisted.

If enforced, the CCO will, among other prohibitions, ban the addition of lead in paints as drier or pigment above the limit of 90 ppm, as well as prohibit the use of lead in the manufacturing of toys, cosmetics, school supplies and packaging for food and beverage, and in the manufacturing of pipes and PVC stabilizers.

“The CCO, we hope, will also ban the use of lead in the manufacturing of lead-added glazes and paints on containers, vessels and utensils used for food and drinks, which was inadvertently omitted in the latest version of the CCO,” Guarino said.

Unless the DENR-EMB act fast enough, the EcoWaste Coalition expressed fear that the Philippines will surely:

- End up with more people, especially young children, women of child-bearing age and workers, unsuspectingly exposed to lead and falling victims to the often irreversible neurological, reproductive, developmental and behavioral problems caused by lead exposure;

- End up with more lead-tainted homes, day care centers, schools, playgrounds and other facilities frequented by children that will require costly remediation to make these facilities safe, especially for young children and pregnant women;

- End up with more lead-containing consumer products such as toys and cosmetics entering our ports and markets without restraint, and thereby making our nation a dumping ground for unsafe goods; and

- End up with more hazardous lead-contaminated waste stream, making waste collection, recycling and disposal more risky for waste workers and recyclers.


13 February 2013

Team PNoy’s Proclamation Rally Far from Being Eco-Friendly

(NOTE: The EcoWaste Coalition’s Secretariat will issue another press release upon receipt of volunteers’ report regarding the environmental conduct of  UNA’s proclamation rally in Cebu City yesterday.  Efforts will also be made to get and screen tarps of senatorial candidates of UNA and other groups.)
When all the campaign speeches and promises were said and the candidates proclaimed by no less than President Benigno Aquino III, government-paid environmental and sanitation workers rushed to Plaza Miranda to sweep up the litter left by the adoring crowds of Team PNoy.
Zero Waste advocates from the EcoWaste Coalition expressed dismay over the indiscriminate littering during the festive occasion, which ironically ended with a mass singing of the patriotic song “Ako’y Isang Mabuting Pilipino” led by folk artist Noel Cabangon that has lyrics saying “di ako nagkakalat ng basura sa lansangan…inaalagaan ko ang ating kapaligiran.”
“We expected a lot more from Team PNoy and their supporters in terms of caring for our surroundings. The protection of the environment, as we all know, is integral to the fulfillment of the ‘Daang Matuwid’ under the Aquino presidency. Sadly, the opening salvo was a letdown, environmentally-speaking,”said Ochie Tolentino, Vice-President, EcoWaste Coalition.
Among the most littered items were leaflets and other campaign materials from some senatorial bets and party list groups, discarded bamboo placard frames, yellow confetti, flyers from a real estate company associated with one of the candidates, Styrofoam containers, plastic wrappers, plastic bags and cigarette butts.
“While we commend the street sweepers for cleaning Plaza Miranda right away, we thought that Team PNoy and their supporters should have done the clearing of their mess instead. Organizers should have briefed their followers about basic waste prevention and appointed a team to ensure compliance and cleanup after the event,” Tolentino said.
“We remain hopeful that Team PNoy and its component parties will level up their environmental performance and make their campaign sorties clean and green,” she said.
The “Berde ka ba?” Green Electoral Initiative (GEI) jointly sponsored by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace provides a proper venue for the environmental champions of Team PNoy, as well as the United Nationalist Alliance, to talk about their green platforms, she added.
Aside from littering, the EcoWaste Coalition noted other lapses that should be remedied such as the unimpeded use of plastic tarpaulin for placards and banners, the improper parking of VIP cars along Quezon Boulevard, as well as indiscriminate smoking.
TOXIC TARPS GALORE: Chemicals analysis conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition on the plastic tarps of Team PNoy’s 12 senatorial bets showed significant levels of cadmium (from 726 to 1,216 parts per million, or ppm), lead (from 108 to 1,263 and antimony (from 199 to 404 ppm),  raising health and environmental concern about the unregulated use of tarps.  All the tested tarps had cadmium, a carcinogenic substance, that the European Union banned in plastics and other specific uses since December 2011 to “reduce environmental pollution from cadmium.” The state of Minnesota, USA banned cadmium exceeding 100 ppm in any pigment, paint, dye or ink since 1998.  The EcoWaste Coalition proposes that the Team PNoy should, as encouraged by Comelec Resolution No. 9615, “use recyclable and environment-friendly materials and avoid those that contain hazardous chemicals.”
MONSTROUS TRAFFIC JAM: Cars of VIPs, along with the campaign vans of candidates Sonny Angara, Bam Aquino and other candidates, were allowed to occupy at least two lanes of Quezon Boulevard, depriving people space and making only one lane passable to vehicles. The EcoWaste Coalition recommends a more commuter-sensitive parking and transportation plan that will not hinder the free flow of traffic along Quezon Boulevard, including carpooling among candidates and their staff to reduce fuel use and road congestion.
INDISCRIMINATE SMOKING: Smokers, both men and women, were seen smoking during the rally unmindful of the harm that the inhalation of secondhand smoke brings to other people, especially among the elderly, children, pregnant women and those with chronic respiratory ailments. The EcoWaste Coalition suggests that campaign sorties should promote "clean air" and restrict, if not prohibit, smoking.
The EcoWaste Coalition is a national network of more than 150 public interest groups pursuing sustainable and just solutions to waste, climate change and chemical issues towards the envisioned Zero Waste 2020 goal

Watchdog Cautions Public against “Valentoxic” Gifts

Quezon City. On the eve of Valentine’s Day and the scene is set for romance – hearts and flowers, mugs and shot glasses, stuffed toys and animal figurines. But wait, some of these products might be “Valentoxic,” cautioned the EcoWaste Coalition.
“Valentoxic” is a portmanteau of the words “Valentine" and “toxic,” coined by the group for Valentine’s gifts and other accessories that are laced with harmful chemicals.
This was revealed by the EcoWaste Coalition's Task Force on Chemical Safety during its recent test buys of common Valentine’s gifts and other romantic miscellany from formal and informal retailers in Divisoria and Sta. Cruz, Manila.
The group screened 38 items using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, all of which were detected with high levels of multiple heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, cadmium, antimony, chromium and mercury.
Of the 38 samples, 76% (29 out of 38) tested positive for lead, 68% (26 out of 38) for arsenic, 61% (23 out of 38) for cadmium, 58% (22 out of 38) for antimony, 26% (10 out of 38) for chromium, and 10.5% (4 out of 38) for mercury.
Among the most “Valentoxic” products tested were ceramic mugs, all of which were found laced with toxic metals above levels of concern. Ironically, seven of these tainted mugs have license to operate (LTO) stickers, supposedly indicating compliance to required documentary and safety requirements.
“Our scientific findings show that some Valentine’s gifts, particularly mugs with heart and love theme, are laced with hazardous substances that may cause harm to the people we love,” said Thony Dizon of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
The top 5 most “toxic” mugs as shown by the XRF tests were:
1. A mug with a big pink heart and red design yielded the highest amounts of lead (40,700 ppm), arsenic (5,661 ppm), cadmium (5,432 ppm), and antimony (1,429 ppm) among tested items.
2. A mug that has a “Crazy Love” text had lead (35,600 ppm), arsenic (5,175 ppm) cadmium (3,452 ppm) and antimony (988 ppm).
3. A yellow mug with a teddy bear holding a heart that says “I love you” had lead (23,700 ppm), arsenic (3,869 ppm) and antimony (866 ppm).
4. A blue mug with a teddy bear holding a heart that says “I love you” had lead (16,200 ppm), arsenic (2,542 lead) and antimony (335 ppm).
5. A white mug with “I love you” text and a checkered black and white heart had lead (13,300 ppm), arsenic (1,946 ppm), cadmium (3,368 ppm) and antimony (575 ppm).
Traces of heavy metals were also detected in some samples of synthetic roses, stuffed hearts with saccharine messages, animal figurines and a shot glass.
Arsenic, cadmium lead and mercury are included in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) list of “Ten Chemicals of Major Public Health Concern” and are likewise categorized, along with chromium, in the “Priority Chemicals List” of the Philippines.
According to WHO, “intake of inorganic arsenic over a long period can lead to chronic arsenic poisoning (arsenicosis) and effects, which can take years to develop depending on the exposure level, include skin lesions, peripheral neuropathy, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.”
The WHO has warned that “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.”
Dizon revealed that “none of the samples disclosed complete product label information, making consumers unaware about the manufacturers’ details, possible chemical contents and health warnings.”
Those that are most vulnerable to heavy metal poisoning include fetuses, young children, pregnant women and workers exposed to a combination of harmful chemicals in their routine jobs.
Citing information from the WHO, Dizon said that “lead absorbed by the fetus may cause adverse complications during the mother’s pregnancy, including miscarriage, premature birth or low birth-weight.”
“While not as susceptible as children, lead exposure in adults can cause neurological, cardiovascular, renal, gastrointestinal, haematological and reproductive effects,” he added.
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.”
Dizon reminded the public that “Valentine’s Day is a significant celebration for each one of us and the ones we love, and we can demonstrate a little extra love for the environment by cautiously considering the things we buy.”
The EcoWaste Coalition is a national network of more than 150 public interest groups pursuing sustainable and just solutions to waste, climate change and chemical issues towards the envisioned Zero Waste 2020 goal.

11 February 2013

Poison Cosmetics: Ugly Chemicals in 44 Out of 60 Beauty Products Bared

Quezon City.  With JS Proms and Valentine’s Day just around the corner, a green group promoting consumer and environmental health issued words of warning against ugly chemicals in beauty products amid their brisk sales.

The EcoWaste Coalition's Task Force on Chemical Safety made the warning after analyzing 33 lipsticks, 22 eyeshadows, and 5 skin lightening creams purchased from retail stores in Guadalupe, Makati City, Divisoria and Quiapo, Manila City and Cubao, Quezon City.

Toxic metals such as lead and mercury were detected in 44 out of the 60 cosmetics, provoking suggestions for increased consumer vigilance, for wider product analysis and for tighter product regulation and surveillance.
The group initiated the investigation, with the aid of an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer, as its contribution to the Department of Health’s efforts this February, a month of beauty and romance for many, to improve public awareness about cancer, heart and mental diseases.

“The results of our limited investigation provide an initial indicator of the prevalence of toxic chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products. It is hard to ascertain how bad and widespread the problem is as we may have just scratched the surface,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“We invite our cosmetics regulators to conduct a wider sampling to determine the safety of cosmetics in the market from nasty chemicals that pose significant risks to human health and the environment, including heavy metals, phthalates and other synthetic additives,” she suggested.

“In the meantime, we urge cosmetics consumers to press for their rights to product information and to product safety, as we appeal to cosmetics manufacturers here and abroad to only use non-carcinogenic, non-endocrine disrupting and non-toxic materials for consumer health and safety,” she added.

Lead and mercury, two of the World Health Organization’s “10 Chemicals of Major Public Health Concern,” were found above the limits set under the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive at 20 parts per million (ppm) and 1 ppm, respectively.

Exposure to lead, a brain-damaging chemical linked to learning, language and behavioral disorders, may cause delays in puberty onset in girls, menstrual abnormalities, reduced fertility, pregnancy problems and hormonal irregularities.

On the other hand, exposure to mercury in cosmetics may result to skin discoloration, rashes and scarring and decrease skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections. WHO has warned that direct and prolonged exposure through the skin during repeated applications can harm the kidneys and nervous system, including the brain.

Major findings include:

A. Lipsticks
a. 5 of 33 lipsticks had lead up to 11,600 ppm (Mengdu Express 3 in 1, No. 5)
 b. 12 of 33 lipsticks had mercury up to 182 ppm (MAC No. A19)
 c. 16 of 33 lipsticks had low or non-detectable levels of lead, mercury and other heavy metals

 B. Eyeshadows
 a. 7 of 22 eyeshadows had lead up to 4,028 ppm (Kiss Beauty 20 Colors Eyeshadow and 2 Colors Blusher)
b. 19 of 22 eyeshadows had mercury up to 88 ppm (ADS Fashion Color)
 c. 4 of 22 eyeshadows had chromium up to 7,147 ppm (ADS Fashion Color)
 d. Only 2 eyeshadows had low or non-detectable levels of lead, mercury and other heavy metals

C. Skin Whitening Creams
a. 5 of the 5 skin whitening creams had mercury from 334 ppm to 16,000 ppm (Pretty Model Whitening and Freckle Removing Cream)
 b. 3 of the 5 mercury-laden skin whitening creams are already banned by the government (JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream, Pretty Model Whitening and Freckle Removing Cream and S’zitang)
 c. 2 of the 5 mercury-laden skin whitening creams are not yet banned (Aichun Beauty Vitamin C Anti-Freckle Cream Suit and Yudantang Aloe Pearl Essence 10 Days Whitening Speckles Removed Cream)

 To prevent exposure to harmful substances, the EcoWaste Coalition advises cosmetics consumers to:
1. Critically read the product information and refrain from buying unlabelled/mislabelled and unregistered cosmetics. Check if the products have FDA registration, among others.
2. Avoid cosmetics with chemical ingredients that are hard to spell, pronounce and understand.
 3. Demand safe products and be conscious of the health costs of “beauty.”

For the cosmetics manufacturers, the EcoWaste Coalition recommends that they:
 1. Remove toxic metals and other chemicals of concern in cosmetics and replace these with non-hazardous substitutes.
2. Disclose all chemical ingredients, including additives and impurities, on the product labels and online.
3. Provide hazard labelling for products containing ingredients linked to cancer and other major health issues.

At a forum jointly organized by the EcoWaste Coalition and the Food and Drug Administration in March 2012, visiting American scientist Dr. Ann Blake drew attention to the health cost of beauty products and spoke about the adverse health effects of exposure to heavy metals, endocrine disrupting chemicals and persistent, bio-accumulative ingredients contained in cosmetics and personal care products.

Dr. Blake’s disclosure prompted the filing of a resolution by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago calling for an inquiry on the need to introduce and implement toxic reduction strategies in cosmetics. In fact, there are other resolutions and bills pending at both houses of the 15th Congress that seek to regulate, restrict, phase out or ban such harmful chemical additives and contaminants in cosmetics.

The EcoWaste Coalition is a national network of more than 150 public interest groups pursuing sustainable and just solutions to waste, climate change and chemical issues towards the envisioned Zero Waste 2020 goal.



08 February 2013

EcoWaste Coalition Urges Team PNoy and UNA to Commit to Clean Campaigning

Team PNoy, Team UNA told: Zero Basura is akin to good governance.

Zero waste advocates will be watching closely how the two major political camps, the Aquino-led Team PNoy and the Binay-led United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), will conduct their senatorial proclamation rallies on February 12 in Manila and in Cebu.

In separate letters sent today to President Benigno S. Aquino III and Liberal Party Campaign Manager Senator Franklin Drilon of Team PNoy, and to Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay and UNA Secretary General and Campaign Manager Congressman Tobias M. Tiangco, the EcoWaste Coalition urged both camps to demonstrate their concern for the environment when they fire their opening salvos next Tuesday.

“We challenge both parties to set the standard for clean and eco-friendly political campaigns in their sorties throughout the archipelago, and to avoid exacerbating our environmental problems with their campaign garbage and polluting political paraphernalia,” said Von Hernandez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We ask politicians to conduct their campaign activities - in a 'Zero Basura' way – which, in our view translates to good governance. By purposely preventing and reducing their campaign garbage, political parties will be making a positive difference towards protecting and preserving our fragile environment,” he said.

The Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition plans to deploy its “Zero Basura Patrol” to monitor the conduct of Team PNoy’s proclamation event at the historic Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila, while its Cebu-based affiliate, the Philippine Earth Justice Center, will observe UNA’s event slated to be held at the Maritima Heritage grounds near the Cebu City Hall.

The EcoWaste Coalition also challenged Team PNoy and UNA to faithfully abide by the requirements of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and Republic Act 9006, or the Fair Election Act.

According to the EWC, Team PNoy and UNA must ensure that their proclamation rallies and subsequent campaign sorties in the next three months are fully compliant with R.A. 9003’s ban against littering, open burning and open dumping. The coalition also asked Team PNoy and UNA and their supporters to desist from throwing confetti, exploding firecrackers and fireworks and from releasing balloons and sky lanterns for health, environmental and safety concerns.

With respect to R.A. 9006, Team PNoy and UNA should stick to lawful and ecological election propaganda as elaborated in Comelec Resolution 9615, where “parties and candidates are encouraged to use recyclable and environment-friendly materials and avoid those that contain hazardous chemicals and substances in the production of their campaign and election propaganda,” the EcoWaste Coalition noted.

The waste watchdog likewise reminded Team PNoy and UNA not to post their campaign materials outside of designated common poster areas, and never on trees, flowering plants, shrubs and other forbidden places as per Comelec Resolution 9615.

"Aside from simply complying with these existing laws , we are also challenging both parties to draw up a clear and meaningful environmental agenda as part of their respective electoral platforms . This will give the voting public the opportunity to elect leaders who are truly invested in securing a green and sustainable future for this country." Hernandez added.

The EcoWaste Coalition, together with Greenpeace and other allies, will be conducting Green Electoral Initiative (GEI) around the theme “Berde ka ba?” which aims to encourage political coalitions and parties to develop their green platforms and identify environmental champions from their senatorial line-up.

The EcoWaste Coalition is a national network of more than 150 public interest groups pursuing sustainable and just solutions to waste, climate change and chemical issues towards the envisioned Zero Waste 2020 goal.


07 February 2013

PVC flooring products laden with harmful chemicals - EcoWaste Coalition

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or plastic vinyl flooring materials mistakenly referred to as “linoleum” by most Pinoys were found loaded with heavy metals that are linked to irreversible brain damage and other health disorders.

The EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Forces on Chemical Safety and Plastics made the revelation after analyzing 20 PVC flooring samples using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, a device that is capable of screening materials for heavy metals.

The samples were procured by the group from general merchandise stores located near or within public markets in Guadalupe Nuevo, Makati City; Paco, Manila City, Libertad, Pasay City; Novaliches, Quezon City; and in the town of Pateros.

Sold in a variety of colors, designs and thickness from P65 to 165 per meter or yard, PVC flooring as a home improvement product (HIP) has gained domestic popularity because it is attractive, affordable, durable, waterproof and convenient to install and maintain.

“Consumers are clueless to the many synthetic chemical additives on plastic vinyl flooring materials that pose danger to children’s health, especially to babies and toddlers who spend a lot of time indoors often playing or sleeping on the floor,” said Sonia Mendoza, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force on Plastics.

All the 20 samples had considerable levels of lead, a potent neurotoxin that can bring about permanent brain damage, and other chemicals of concern such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium and chromium that have been linked to birth and reproductive disorders, learning disabilities, liver damage, asthma and cancer.

“We urge the government to build on our initial findings, conduct further studies of chemicals in vinyl flooring and come up with a regulation on the most common HIPs that will protect the health of children, pregnant women and other vulnerable groups. Making HIPs and other consumer products free of toxics will make them safer to use, repair or even recycle at the end of their useful life," said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Highlights of the findings include:

1. The 20 PVC flooring samples had detectable levels of lead ranging from 95 parts per million (ppm) to 4,462 ppm.

2. Out of the 20 samples, 14 had detectable levels of antimony (the highest being 2,508ppm), 5had arsenic (highest: 100 ppm), 6 had cadmium (highest: 170 ppm) and 7had chromium (highest: 1,517 ppm).

3. 19 of the samples had more than one toxic metal above levels of concern, which increases the potential of toxic harm due to multiple exposures.

4. None of the 20 samples were labeled with information about their chemical or material content to warn consumers.

The expanded sampling of PVC flooring and other HIPs should cover heavy metals, organotin stabilizers, brominated flame retardant chemicals and phthalate plasticizers that are commonly used in the manufacture of such products.

The group expressed concern that a 2010 study by the Michigan-based Ecology Center showed flooring samples contained numerous phthalates up to 12.9% by weight, including phthalates that are already banned in children’s products in US and EU.

Studies have shown the linkages between phthalates and wheezing among preschool children, phthalates and the disruption of endocrine functions, phthalates and their adverse impacts on the reproductive system, kidneys, liver and blood. Researches have also illustrated that phthalates indirectly cause autism.

The EcoWaste Coalition is a national network of more than 150 public interest groups pursuing sustainable and just solutions to waste, climate change and chemical issues towards the envisioned Zero Waste 2020 goal.


05 February 2013

Toxic Metals in Chinese New Year Lucky Charms, Detected ("Baby Boom" Amulet Found with Highest Level of Lead - A Chemical that Increases Risk of Miscarriage and Premature Birth)

A consumer safety watchdog discovered dangerous chemicals in 28 lucky charms and accessories, including a Chi Lin (Dragon Horse) amulet that is supposedly “the bearer of fortune gift – the gift of a baby.”

With only a few days left before the Chinese New Year, the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force Chemical Safety revealed that toxic metals such as chromium, lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, and antimony were detected in 28 out of 30 samples after subjecting them to chemical analysis using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.

Of the 30 samples, 60% (18 out of 30) were detected positive for chromium, 43% (13 out of 30) for lead, 30% (9 out of 30) for arsenic, 20% (6 out of 30) for antimony, 13% (4 out of 30) for cadmium, and 10% (3 out of 30) for mercury.

The samples were purchased on January 31, 2013 from shops and vendors in Manila’s Binondo District, also known as Chinatown, the center of various activities ushering in the beginning of another Chinese lunar year – the Year of the Water Snake.

Among the samples tested were amulets, animal figurines, baguas, bracelets, hanging decor, iconic figurines such as Buddha and Confucius, urns, and other fortune enhancers and good health activators.

“Lucky charms which are believed to produce a positive influence over a person’s good health and fortune should not contain hazardous substances that bring adverse health effects,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Lucero called attention to a yellow-gold Chi Lin amulet intended for childless couples that registered with the highest level of lead at 47,400 parts per million (ppm), way beyond the 100 ppm limit for toys and children’s articles under the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.

“Lead is extremely toxic and can be passed from a mother to her unborn child.  Too much lead in a mother’s body increases the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth , premature birth and low weight birth and may cause the child to have behavioral or learning difficulties.  This makes the use of lead in a ‘baby boom’ amulet bizarre and unacceptable,” she explained.
The XRF tests indicated that:

1. A yellow-gold Chi Lin amulet had 47, 400 ppm of lead and 1,350 ppm of chromium.

2. A door decor with red and yellow beads registered the highest amounts of cadmium and antimony with 15,200 ppm and 3,357 ppm.

3. A yellow and green Confucius figurine with a red base had 8,801 ppm of lead, 5,359 ppm of chromium, 1,069 ppm of arsenic, and 12 ppm of mercury.

4. One of the three baguas registered 4,399 ppm of lead, 2,212 ppm of chromium, 531 ppm of arsenic, and 31 ppm of mercury – the highest among all samples.

5. Six of the nine snake lucky charms tested positive for chromium ranging from 103 ppm to 972 ppm.

6. Four out of five bracelets tested positive for multiple toxic metals. A yellow-gold bracelet registered 9,092 ppm of cadmium, 1,906 ppm antimony, 502 ppm chromium, and 426 ppm arsenic. Another yellow bracelet registered 10,300 ppm of cadmium and 2,095 ppm of antimony. Another bracelet registered 2,702 ppm of cadmium, 823 ppm of arsenic, 596 ppm of antimony, 319 ppm of chromium, and 8.7 ppm of mercury. Lastly, a lion bracelet registered 1,381 ppm of antimony, 225 ppm of lead, 106 ppm of chromium, and 46 ppm of arsenic.

Arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury are included in the World Health Organization’s list of “Ten Chemicals of Major Public Health Concern” and are likewise categorized, along with chromium, in the “Priority Chemicals List” of the Philippines.

According to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), “lead is a heavy metal that is toxic at very low exposure levels and has acute and chronic effects on human health,” as “it is a multi-organ system toxicant that can cause neurological, cardiovascular, renal, gastrointestinal, haematological and reproductive effects.”

On the other hand, UNEP categorized cadmium as a “non-essential and toxic element for humans mainly affecting kidneys and the skeleton.”

UNEP added that cadmium "is also a carcinogen by inhalation and is accumulated in bone and may serve as a source of exposure later in life."

“Toxic chemicals have no room in auspicious materials that Filipinos find in Chinatown in anticipation of good luck and as defense against misfortune. Manufacturers should get rid of toxic ingredients in their raw materials and look for safer alternatives, and disclose full chemical information on product labels,” she pointed out.

“Toxic-free products are health-benefitting to the workforces who create them, to the consuming public who patronize them, and to the waste personnel and recyclers whose daily exposure to a mixture of chemicals takes its toll on their wellbeing,” she added.

The EcoWaste Coalition is a national network of more than 150 public interest groups pursuing sustainable and just solutions to waste, climate change and chemical issues towards the envisioned Zero Waste 2020 goal.


03 February 2013

EcoWaste Coalition Slams Chinese Drug Stores Selling Mercury-Laden Cosmetics (Group Finds Mercury up to 25,500 ppm in 14 Imported Skin Whitening Creams)

A watchdog keeping an eye on consumer products containing harmful chemicals decried the unabashed sale of mercury-laden cosmetics by 12 Chinese drug stores in Binondo and Divisoria, Manila.

Using some of its strongest language to date, the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force on Chemical Safety denounced the blatant trade of cosmetics loaded with excessive quantities of mercury that pose real danger to human health and the environment.

“We condemn this callous and criminal trade of skin care products loaded with toxic mercury by some Chinese drug stores masquerading as agents of good health.  It’s high time for the government to use the full force of the law to stop this assault against consumer health and welfare,” Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

The harsh condemnation came in the wake of the group’s latest investigation showing that mercury-added cosmetics, despite explicit prohibition by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are still being sold by non-compliant stores.

In test buys conducted on February 2 and 3, 2013, the group’s AlerToxic Patrol found 12 Chinese drug stores selling 15 brands of imported skin whitening products from P50 to P300 each, including five products (Bai Li Tou Hong, Gemli Gluthathione Grapeseed Extract Whitening and Anti-Aging,  Miss Beauty Magic Cream,  and two “special cream” products labeled in Chinese characters) that were among the 71 products banned by the FDA for containing mercury above the allowable limit of 1 part per million (ppm).

Subsequent testing showed elevated levels of mercury up to 25,500 ppm in 14 of the 15 products.
Using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer, the EcoWaste Coalition detected mercury in the following items:

1. Natural Orange Whitening and Anti-Aging Package, P80, with 25,500 ppm of mercury (Pan-Pacific Drug Store)
2. Feique  Herbal Extract Whitening Anti-Freckle Set, P200, with 20,300 ppm of mercury (To Ren Tang Chinese Medication)
3.  Hengxueqian Whitening Set, P300, with 18,100 ppm of mercury (To Ren Tang Chinese Medication)
4.  Miss Beauty Magic Cream, P70, with 11,400 ppm of mercury (East West Drug Store)
5.  Gemli Gluthathione Grapeseed Extract Whitening and Anti-Aging, P200, with 3,791 ppm of mercury (LVD Chinese Drug Store)
6.  Baiyansu Three-in-One Whitening Set, P150, with 5,940 ppm of mercury (Sim Sim Chinese Drug Store)
7. Bai Li Tou Hong, P70, with 4,754 ppm of mercury (Green Health Drug Store)
8. White Advance Hydroxytyrosol L-Glutathione Whitening and Anti-Aging Cream, P180, with  4,317 ppm of mercury (Good Health Chinese Drug Store)
9. Gakadi, P160, with 3,430 ppm of mercury (To Ren Tang Chinese Medication)
10. One product labeled in Chinese characters, P70, with 2,230 ppm of mercury (Ya Ren Chinese Drug Store)
11. One product labeled in Chinese characters, P80, with 1,733 ppm of mercury (Cheng En Chinese Drug Store)
12. Care Skin Strong Whitening and Spot Removing Package, P150, with 1,700 ppm of mercury (Lexington Drug Store)
13. One product labeled in Chinese characters with image of red flower and green leaves, P150, with 1,688 ppm of mercury (Kowloon Chinese Drug Store)
14. Fruit and Lovely Quickacting Whitener and Speckle Remover Package, P50, with 472 ppm of mercury (South Ocean Chinese Drug Store)

One product labeled in Chinese characters sold for P240 at To Ren Tang Chinese Medication had no detectable level of mercury, but interestingly had a note on the packaging saying it is banned for children and pregnant women.

The group has already alerted the FDA about its findings through the Center for Cosmetics Regulation and Research headed by Rhoda Laine Manoloto.

Citing information from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the EcoWaste Coalition warned that “even small amounts of mercury and its compounds can impact human health and the environment.”

According to UNEP, “mercury use in cosmetic products can have adverse effects including skin rashes (contact dermatitis and acne venenata), discolouring and scarring (post inflammatory dyschromia), and can reduce skin’s resistance to bacterial and mycotic skin disorders.”

“Direct and prolonged exposure through the skin during repeated applications can cause damage to the brain, nervous system and kidneys,” UNEP warned.

“Skin care products known to contain mercury should be banned from manufacturing or import and removed from the market when found,” UNEP said.

The EcoWaste Coalition is a national network of more than 150 public interest groups pursuing sustainable and just solutions to waste, climate change and chemical issues towards the envisioned Zero Waste 2020 goal.