29 September 2013

EcoWaste Coalition Urges Full Inventory of Mercury-Added Products Targeted for Global Phase-Out

Amid calls for a safe storage program for phased-out mercury-containing medical devices following a mercury spill at Fabella Hospital last month, a toxics watchdog today exhorted the government and the industry to kick off a sweeping inventory of mercury-containing products and stockpiled wastes.

The EcoWaste Coalition aired its plea ahead of the signing of an international treaty on mercury at a Diplomatic Conference to be held in Minamata and Kumamoto, Japan on October 9-11 this year.

Among the treaty provisions to minimize the threat to public health and environment from mercury emissions and releases is the planned phase-out of mercury-added products by 2020, the date after which the manufacture, import or export of certain products shall not be allowed.

The EcoWaste Coalition, which has been tracking mercury in consumer products, urged key government departments and industries to instigate a process even before the treaty is ratified by the Senate in order to gather relevant data on products or product components where mercury is intentionally added.

“With a deadline that is not too far down the road, it will be sensible for our nation to have a real stock-taking of mercury-added consumer products that have to be phased out in compliance with the treaty,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“It will be wise to consider a quicker phase-out to prevent a potential scenario where the local market becomes a dumping ground for unwanted mercury-added products from overseas to be phased out or disposed of,” she added.

“The faster the inventories are completed and verified, and phase-out policies agreed upon, the better we prevent this scenario from occurring,” she stated.

Robust inventories will further guide the government in the performance of its regulatory functions to ensure the environmentally-sound management of mercury-added products and wastes, including their safe storage and disposal, the EcoWaste Coaliton pointed out.

The inventory, the EcoWaste suggested, should provide a mechanism that will encourage concerned citizens and public interest groups to submit inputs, as well as report on movements of mercury-added products as well as wastes.

Citing the treaty text, the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized that nothing “prevents a Party from taking additional domestic measures consistent with the provisions of this Convention in an effort to protect human health and the environment from exposure to mercury.”

“This simply means that our country can have more progressive phase-out targets if only to safeguard the well-being of our people and environment,” Lucero said.

The Philippines already bans cosmetics such as skin whitening products with mercury above the allowable limit of 1 ppm following the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive, the EcoWaste Coalition noted.

The Department of Health through Administrative Order 2008-0021 declared the gradual phase-out of mercury-based medical devices in all health care facilities and institutions by 2010, which was supplemented by the Department of Interior and Local Government’s Memorandum Circular 2010-140 enjoining local government executives and other officials to support the said policy, the group said.

Among the mercury-containing products to be phased out by 2020 as listed in Annex A of the mercury treaty include:

1) batteries (except for button zinc silver oxide batteries with a mercury content < 2%, button zinc air batteries with a mercury content < 2%);

2) compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) equal to or less than 30 watts containing more than 5 mg mercury per bulb;

3) linear fluorescent lamps (LFLs) such as triband lamps less than 60 watts and containing greater than 5 mg mercury and halophosphate lamps less than 40 watts and containing greater than 10 mg mercury;

4) cosmetics with mercury content above 1 part per million, including skin lightening soaps and creams, and not including eye area cosmetics where mercury is used as a preservative and no effective and safe substitute preservatives are available;

5) pesticides, biocides, and topical antiseptics; and

6) non-electronic devices such as barometers, hygrometers, manometers, thermometers, and sphygmomanometers.

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



Please click to read the mercury treaty text:

(please go to Annex A, page 61 to see the list of mercury-containing products to be phased out by 2020)

28 September 2013

Watchdog Finds Toxic Metals in Toys Bought in Manila, Urges Consumers to Insist on Safe Toys

Toxic Toys as the Christmas Season Sets In
(Gregorio B. Dantes, Jr.)

A sampling of assorted toys bought in Manila by an environmental watchdog revealed high levels of lead and other heavy metals in 94 out of 200 toys.

"Our latest investigation shows that nearly half of the toys we analyzed had at least one hazardous substance like lead, which could put the health of young children in danger,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

"On the other hand, we also found more than half of the samples practically free of heavy metals, indicating that such hazardous substances can be replaced with non-toxic substitutes,” he said.

Among the hazardous substances found in the samples were chemicals considered by the World Health Organization as among the “10 chemicals of major public health concern such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury, which also belong to the Philippine Priority Chemicals List of 48 chemicals that could “pose unreasonable risks to public health, workplace and the environment” as per the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The pre-Christmas sampling saw the group’s AlerToxic Patrollers buying samples worth P10 to P180 each from over 20 toy retailers and wholesalers in Divisoria, Ermita, Paco, Malate, Quiapo and Sta. Cruz, Manila.

The samples were purchased on September 18 to 21 and subsequently screened for heavy metals using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer.

Results showed that:

1. 94 of the 200 toy samples (47%) had at least one toxic metal, out of which 76 had lead above the 90 parts per million (ppm) limit for lead in paints and surface coatings.

2. Of these 94 samples, none had labels indicating the presence of toxic chemical ingredients to warn consumers.

3. Of the 200 samples, only 20 items (10%) had the issued “license to operate” number printed on their labels, signifying that most samples were not duly registered and compliant with the Philippine National Standards (PNS) for Safety of Toys.

Lead, a potent neurotoxin ingested, inhaled or absorbed by the skin, can cause mental retardation, learning difficulties, lower intelligence quotient scores, growth delays and behavioral problems, as well as anemia, hearing loss and kidney injury.

Dr. Bessie Antonio, a pediatric toxicologist and head of the East Avenue Medical Center’s Out-Patient Department, stressed that children are very vulnerable to lead exposure and poisoning due to their usual hand-to-mouth behavior.

“Lead is directly ingested by kids when they put their hands or toys that may contain lead paint or dust in their mouths. Their immature body organs and systems are still developing and very susceptible to the damaging effects of lead and other toxicants,” she stated.
The EcoWaste Coalition has put forward the following tips to help consumers avoid unsafe toys:

1. Carefully examine the product label, which should contain the product name, the name and contact details of the manufacturer or distributor, the LTO number issued by the government, age for intended use and cautionary warnings in English or Filipino. Always check the product label for chemical safety and health information.

2. Steer clear of toys made of polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC), which contains load of toxic additives, toys with strong chemical or perfume smell, and painted toys unless certified lead-safe.
3. Watch out for other potential hazards in toys including choking, electrocution, laceration, mechanical, microbiological and strangulation hazards, especially toys intended for children below 3 years of age.

“As Christmas nears, we remind consumers to watch out for toys that may expose their young users to harm. Be assertive, insist on your right to properly labeled, tested and registered toys for kids,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.


1. TOY FURNITURE: A yellow-painted metal “Winnie the Pooh” chair with back rest, 26,900 ppm of lead.
2. DOLL: An unclothed girl doll holding a yellow towel with 23,200 ppm of lead, 8,909 ppm of chromium, 1,441 ppm of arsenic and 655 ppm of cadmium.
3. MUG: A mug with red and yellow “Winnie the Pooh” design with 11, 200 ppm of lead, 3,384 ppm of cadmium and 1,797 ppm of arsenic.
4. SPORTING TOY: A black and yellow “SpongeBob SquarePants” PVC plastic boxing gloves with 9,356 ppm of lead.
5. TOY ANIMAL: A red and green dragon with 5,207 ppm of lead.
6. CARTOON FIGURE: A Pocket Bola “Pikachu” character, with 5,165 ppm of lead.
7. WRITING TOOL: A mini-white board with "SpongeBob Squarepants" and“Patrick” characters with 4,128 ppm of lead.
8. SOFT BALL: A “King Sports” soft stuffed ball with 3,902 ppm of lead.
9. BODY ACCESSORY: A green “Ben 10” wrist strap with 3,257 ppm of lead.
10. TOY CAR: A “Grand Prix Formula 1” toy car with 2,000 ppm of lead.
11. MONEY BOX: A whale-like ceramic money box with 1,451 ppm of lead, 1,582 ppm of cadmium and 2,047 ppm of chromium.
12. TOY GUN: An unlabeled toy gun with 978 ppm of lead.
13. ACTION FIGURE: A police action figure with 344 of lead.
14. MUSICAL TOY: A “Spence” xylophone with 296 ppm of lead.
15. TOY COSMETICS: A “Pretty Girl” make-up set with 92 ppm of mercury.

25 September 2013

EcoWaste Coalition Sounds Early Warning vs Toxic Toys as the Christmas Season Sets In

25 September 2013, Quezon City. A waste and pollution watchdog today warned consumers against undisclosed hazardous substances in some children’s products as it uncovered very high levels of heavy metals in 94 out of 200 toy samples.

At a press briefing to announce the September results of its monthly sampling of toys prior to Christmas, the EcoWaste Coalition said it detected arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury above levels of concern in 94 products, which could pose health risks for young users.

“The bad news is 47 % of the samples have one or more toxic metals above regulatory limits, which increases the probable harm due to multiple exposures to such substances. Lead was the most common toxicant found in the tainted toys,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Lead, a brain damaging toxin, was found in 76 products such as a play chair and a doll that topped the list of tainted samples with 26,900 and 23,200 parts per million (ppm) of lead, respectively, way above the 90 ppm limit for lead in paint and surface coatings.

“The good news is over half of the samples had zero or low levels of toxic metals indicating the technical and economic viability of producing safe toys,” he added.

“Be a vigilant consumer this yuletide season. Carefully scrutinize toys for potential hazards before making a purchase,” he stated.

“Cadmium, lead, mercury and other harmful chemicals should not be present in toys and other child-targeted products,” he emphasized.

In fact, all products marketed for children should be safe from all forms of hazards, including chemical, choking, electric shock, microbiological, noise, physical and strangulation hazards, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed.

Zeroing on lead, the EcoWaste Coalition warned that this metal can harm almost every organ and system of a child’s body, especially the brain and the central nervous system where it can cause permanent mental and developmental damages.

Lead exposure in children via ingestion, inhalation or dermal contact can result in mental retardation, learning difficulties, lower intelligence quotient scores, growth delays and behavioural problems, as well as anemia, hearing loss and kidney injury.

For its September sampling of toys, the EcoWaste Coalitions’ AlerToxic Patrollers went to over 20 formal and informal toy stores located in Divisoria, Ermita, Paco, Malate, Quiapo and Sta. Cruz, Manila on September 18 -21 and bought 200 assorted toys worth P10 to P180 each.

A handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer was used to analyze the toys samples for toxic metals.

Topping the list of tainted samples per toy category were:

1. TOY FURNITURE: A yellow-painted metal “Winnie the Pooh” chair with back rest, 26,900 ppm of lead.

2. DOLL: An unclothed girl doll holding a yellow towel with 23,200 ppm of lead, 8,909 ppm of chromium, 1,441 ppm of arsenic and 655 ppm of cadmium.

3. MUG: A mug with red and yellow “Winnie the Pooh” design with 11, 200 ppm of lead, 3,384 ppm of cadmium and 1,797 ppm of arsenic.

4. SPORTING TOY: A black and yellow “SpongeBob SquarePants” PVC plastic boxing gloves with 9,356 ppm of lead.

5. TOY ANIMAL: A red and green dragon with 5,207 ppm of lead.

6. CARTOON FIGURE: A Pocket Bola “Pikachu” character, with 5,165 ppm of lead.

7. WRITING TOOL: A mini-white board with "SpongeBob Squarepants" and “Patrick” characters with 4,128 ppm of lead.

8. SOFT BALL: A “King Sports” soft stuffed ball with 3,902 ppm of lead

9. BODY ACCESSORY: A green “Ben 10” wrist strap with 3,257 ppm of lead

10. TOY CAR: A “Grand Prix Formula 1” toy car with 2,000 ppm of lead.

11. MONEY BOX: A whale-like ceramic money box with 1,451 ppm of lead,

1,582 ppm of cadmium and 2,047 ppm of chromium.

12. TOY GUN: An unlabeled toy gun with 978 ppm of lead

13.  ACTION FIGURE: A police action figure with 344 of lead

14. MUSICAL TOY: A “Spence” xylophone with 296 ppm of lead.

15. TOY COSMETICS: A “Pretty Girl” make-up set with 92 ppm of mercury.

None of the 94 tainted samples disclosed their toxic ingredients on the product labels nor provided any cautionary warnings.

A further scrutiny of the product labels revealed that only 20 of the 200 samples had “license to operate” number, indicating that most of the samples did not undergo the required registration procedures.

Dr. Bessie Antonio, Vice-President of the Philippine Society of Clinical and Occupational Toxicology and resource person of the EcoWaste Coalition, pointed out that children are highly vulnerable to lead exposure, warning that no level of childhood lead exposure is deemed safe.

“Lead is directly ingested by kids when they put their hands or toys that may contain lead paint or dust in their mouths. Their immature body organs and systems are still developing and very susceptible to the damaging effects of lead and other toxicants,” she warned.

To dramatize their plea for toy safety reforms, EcoWaste volunteers donned masks during the press briefing to demonstrate the harmful effects of toxic toys to children’s health and also to the environment, especially when such toys are made, used and finally disposed of.

Armed with the fresh test results, the EcoWaste Coalition renewed its plea to toy manufacturers to shift to clean production, drop the use of toxic chemicals, and commit to making safe products for consumer and ecological health.

The group also asked lawmakers to take more concrete steps to protect kids from toxins in toys, specifically appealing for bipartisan support to House Bill 62 filed by Rep. Anthony Del Rosario and Senate Bill 1095 filed by Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito, or the proposed “Safe and Non-Toxic Toys Act of 2013.”

The group further requested the government to fast track the crafting of the Implementing Rules and Regulations for R.A. 10620, the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013 that President Benigno S. Aquino III signed on September 3.


12 September 2013

September 13 Protestors Urged to Repeat Eco-Friendly August 26 Luneta Rally

(Image courtesy of Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Participants of tomorrow’s “Forward March #Abolishpork” rally in Luneta were reminded today by an environmental watchdog to keep the iconic park clean, safe and healthy.

The  EcoWaste Coalition appealed to the rallyists from various groups and sectors to try their best to repeat the eco-friendly “Million People March” last August 26 in Rizal Park that reaped praises from park authorities, netizens and  advocates for zero waste and environmental protection.

“The September 13 rally should at least replicate, if not surpass, the record set by the August 26 rally in terms of keeping Luneta and its environs free of trash,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

The group had earlier commented that the August 26 anti-pork barrel rally set an environmental benchmark against which to measure future public events in Luneta and places.

“As we salute our fellow citizens for their resolute stance to rid corruption, we request them to be always mindful of the environmental impacts of their actions.  Our rage against the stomach-turning pork barrel anomalies should not leave the hallowed grounds of Luneta in a mess,” Lucero stated.

“Let a clean Luneta mirrors the clean government that we all have been longing for,” she said.   

Towards an eco-friendly rally, the group invited everyone to be heedful of the following reminders: 

1.  Do not drop, dump or burn trash; do place your discards into the proper bins and recycle as much as you can.

2.  Respect the people’s right to breathe clean air and abide by Luneta’s “no smoking” policy.

3.  Do not set off firecrackers or set effigies and props on fire creating toxins invisible to the naked eye.

4.  Hold or put your banners on poles not on plants and trees

5.  Refrain from engaging in any acts of vandalism

The EcoWaste Coalition further suggested that people who will be coming in groups, such as those from churches, schools and organized sectors, designate point persons to remind their members not to litter and be environmentally-responsible in venting their anger at government corruption.


10 September 2013

Barangay and SK Electoral Candidates Urged to Campaign Clean

An environmental watchdog urged contenders for the upcoming Barangay  and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to commit to a clean campaign as the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) looms.

Through Resolution 9761, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) specified October 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 as the new period for the filing of COCs for those running for elective Barangay and SK positions on October 28.

“One month before the filing of COCs, we appeal to well-meaning Barangay and SK candidates to commit to a zero waste campaign on their own accord.  Please make it part of your platform and your plan to win,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“By zero waste campaign, we mean candidates and their supporters actively taking steps to prevent, if not eradicate, garbage and pollution as they compete for the people’s votes by rejecting acts that disrespect and damage the environment,” she explained.

Among these acts that disrespect and damage the environment as the group observed in the May 13 national and local elections include the excessive use of tarpaulin banners made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC plastic), unchecked littering in campaign sorties, open dumping and burning of campaign discards, posting of propaganda materials on trees and outside designated areas, and the illegal distribution of sample ballots during the polling day itself.

“By zero waste, we also mean aspirants and their teams taking a strong stand in favor of ecological solid waste management, which is among the top concerns that barangay officials have to deal with to reduce waste volume and toxicity and improve community health and sanitation,” she further said.

The EcoWaste Coalition has expressed concern that political tarpaulins have sprouted like mushrooms in many places even before the filing of COCs and the actual campaign period.

“You can spot these tarpaulins everywhere – in pedicabs and tricycles, in sari-sari stores, in public markets and in residences.  We fear a repeat of the avalanche of tarpaulin waste that happened during the last elections,” Lucero observed.

“Tarpaulins are not your typical household trash,” she warned. “Tarps contain harmful substances like cadmium and lead that contaminate our surroundings, particularly when these are dumped or burned,” she said.

Lucero cited the results of their study showing that out of the 200 tarpaulins used by candidates in the May 13 elections, the group detected cadmium up to 1,279 parts per million (ppm) in all of them (100%) and lead up to 1,704 ppm in 51 samples (25%).

“Please temper your appetite for PVC tarpaulins and other campaign materials,” Lucero said.

“Connecting with the people face-to-face and understanding their situations and needs cannot be replaced by cold, lifeless and toxic tarpaulins,” she said.




Watchdog Welcomes Reduced Lead Levels of QMC's Play and Work-Out Equipment

Quezon City.  The Quezon City Government got a pat on the back for dramatically reducing the levels of lead, a highly toxic chemical, in exercise, fitness and recreation equipment at the Quezon Memorial Circle.

From having outrageously high lead concentrations reaching up to 320,000 parts per million (ppm) in 2012, the EcoWaste Coalition noted the dramatic drop in the amounts of lead detected in various types of play and work-out equipment in the park.

In April last year, the EcoWaste Coalition alerted Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista about the hazards posed by the extremely leaded equipment in the park many of which have seen better days with paints chipping off and needing serious remediation or replacement.

Yesterday, September 7, the EcoWaste Coalition returned to the park to check on the renovation efforts being carried out by the Quezon City Parks Development and Administration.

Equipped with a portable X-Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, the group analyzed a total of 40 samples, including 16 newly-installed equipment imported from South Korea, 4 new stainless steel equipment, 10  refurbished equipment and 10 picnic table and chair sets.

All the 4 stainless steel equipment and the 10 sets of red oxide painted tables and chairs showed no detectable levels of lead, the group said.

“While we still detected varying levels of lead in some of the new and old equipment, their concentrations were very much lower compared to what we found in 2012,” noted Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project.

“For instance, a leg press equipment that we tested last year had 320,000 ppm of lead.  A similar equipment we recently analyzed had 5,221 ppm of lead,” he said.

“A twin arm warmer equipment last year indicated over 100,000 ppm of lead and a comparable equipment this year showed 259 ppm of lead,” he added.

The limit for lead in paint and surface coatings is 90 ppm under the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and in the draft Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

As the local government expands its renovation efforts to cover other parks and playgrounds in Quezon City, the EcoWaste Coalition urged Mayor Bautista to aim for unleaded public facilities during his second term of office.

“By adopting and applying non-lead, non-toxic green procurement policy, we know that the city’s parks and other public amenities will truly become child and family-friendly,” Dizon said.

“Suppliers should be required to provide only ‘no lead added’ equipment to replace the tainted ones, or unleaded paint to patch up the expended ones,” Dizon said.

To prevent children and other park visitors from being exposed to lead, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated the following suggestions:

1. Block off the lead-tainted equipment, particularly those that are already worn out and with chipping paint, replace them with non-lead equipment or repaint them with a certified lead-free paint.

2. Avoid disturbing lead-containing paint to prevent the dispersal of contaminated chips, flakes or dust that children can breathe or swallow or come in contact with their skin.

3. Conduct visual inspection and lead hazard assessment of all public playgrounds in the city, as well as other government maternity and pediatric wards, day care centers and schools in the city, to identify contaminated fixtures and facilities and ensure professional remediation to ensure children’s safety.

4. Regularly monitor lead-containing equipment in good condition for chipping, flaking or weathering.

5. Check the lead levels in soil within the playground to determine if lead has built up there, especially in spots where children often gather and play.

6.  Ensure environmentally-sound storage and disposal of discarded leaded equipment and other waste contaminated with lead.

To facilitate the ecological management of lead-containing waste, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the city authorities to consult with the Environmental Management Bureau or tap the professional services of EMB-accredited transport, storage and disposal facilities.

The EcoWaste Coalition cited a study by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission showing that lead used in paint on playground equipment may present a serious poisoning hazard for children under six years-old, concluding that the problem arises principally with older paint where it has deteriorated and flaked due to weather conditions, age and usage.


07 September 2013

EcoWaste Coalition Welcomes Signing of Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013

Product label of China-made "Shrilling Chicken" that was recently recalled in Sweden for violating the European Union's regulation on persistent organic pollutants (POPs). 

An environmental group tracking toxins in children’s products welcomed the signing of Republic Act 10620, the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013, by President Benigno S. Aquino III last September 3.

In a statement sent to the media, the EcoWaste Coalition cited the new law as a potent tool that will compel toy manufacturers to comply with safety labeling requirements or face legal sanctions.

“R.A. 10620, we hope, will be able to fix a persistent problem on poorly and deceptively labeled toys that we have been seeing since we started to embark on regular toy sampling way back in 2011,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect. 

Toy sampling conducted by the group showed 121 of the 435 toy samples (27%) that it analyzed in 2011 and 312 of the 518 samples (60%) it examined in 2012 had antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury above levels of concern, which were not indicated on the product labels.

“By ensuring that toys and games bear the mandatory safety warnings and instructions, including cautionary statements, we uphold the rights of children who are most vulnerable to biological, chemical, mechanical, physical and other types of hazards that toys may present,” he said.

Dizon pointed out that toy consumers have, among other rights, 1) the right to have access to truthful product information to facilitate sound choice, and 2) the right to be protected against the marketing of goods that are harmful to health and life.

Under the law, “a
balloon, ball, marble, or toy or game which packaging is not in compliance with the requirements shall be considered a misbranded or banned hazardous substance and withdrawn from the market at the expense of the manufacturer or importer.”

A fine of not less than P10,000 but not exceeding P50,000 or imprisonment of not less than three months to two years, or both, await violators of the law.

R.A. 10620 has assigned the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Health (DOH) to regularly publish every six months 1) the list of all manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers who failed to comply with the requirements of the law, and 2) the list of all misbranded or banned hazardous substances disallowed for sale and distribution, respectively.

“We are excited to see and even contribute to the lists that the DTI and DOH are tasked to do.  The information on these lists will surely assist consumers in making informed and healthy purchasing decisions,” Dizon said.

As the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. 10620 are prepared, the
EcoWaste Coalition proposed a parallel review of the Philippine National Standards for safety of toys to ensure essential amendments are made in light of relevant policy developments on children’s health and safety, nationally and globally.

Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago and Manny Villar authored the Senate version of R.A. 10620 during the last Congress, while its House version was authored by Representatives Diosdado Arroyo, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Rufus Rodriguez.

06 September 2013

China-Made 'Shrilling Chicken" Toy: Sold in the Philippines, Banned in Sweden (Watchdog Warns vs. "Shrilling Chicken" Toy Laced with Toxic Chemicals)

"Shrilling Chicken" bought from Divisoria, Philippines (top) and the one recalled in Sweden (below).

The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, has put out a warning against a chicken squeeze toy sold locally that was recently recalled in Sweden for containing a persistent organic pollutant (POP).

Sweden recently withdrew from the market a China-imported toy called “Shrilling Chicken,” which is made of yellow and red plastic that creates a piercing cry or screaming sound when squeezed.

“The product poses an environmental risk (chemical pollution) because the plastic in the chicken contains up to 10% short chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) and does not comply with the European Commission Regulation 519/2012 on POPs,” according to RAPEX, the European Union’s rapid alert system on certain products posing a serious risk to the health and safety of consumers.
SCCPs are toxic industrial chemicals used as component for lubricants and coolants in metalworking applications and as plasticizer and flame retardant additive in plastics, rubber formulations, adhesives and sealants, and in paints and other coatings. 

"The 'Shrilling Chicken' has been on sale in the local market for years.  Many consumers may have bought the cute squeaky toy to give to young children during past Christmases," said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition's Project Protect. 

Independent laboratory analysis contracted by the EcoWaste Coalition in 2010 and 2012 showed samples of " Shrilling Chicken" laden with up to 1
3.22% dibutyl phthalate (DBP), way above the allowable limit of 0.1 percent by weight set under the Department of Health Administrative Order 2009-0005.

Phthalates are hormone-disrupting chemicals blamed for genital distortions such as malformed penises and undescended testicles, for developmental abnormalities such as cleft palate, for the early onset of puberty and other health issues. 

"We had not idea that this toy was contaminated with POPs that are far worse than phthalates," Dizon said.

SCCPs are being proposed for listing under the Stockholm Convention on POPs, a global treaty crafted to get rid of some of the world's most poisonous chemicals that the Philippine Senate ratified in 2004. 

POPs, according to a primer published by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, are chemical substances that persist in the environment, bio-accumulate through the food web, and pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has categorized SCCPs as possibly carcinogenic to humans.

As a precaution against potential exposure to both DBP and SCCPs, the EcoWaste Coalition proposes that:

1. Vendors should stop selling their remaining stocks of “Shrilling Chicken” and return whatever is left to the manufacturer in China for proper disposal.

2. Parents should remove “Shrilling Chicken” from among the toys that kids play with, store out of reach of children or discard appropriately as hazardous waste.

3. Government toy regulators should immediately ban “Shrilling Chicken” and cause their removal from the market.

“As a general precaution against toxic exposure, we advise parents to desist from buying polyvinyl chloride (PVC) toys and to insist on knowing the chemical inputs of a product before deciding to purchase it,” Dizon stated.

The EcoWaste Coalition, which is committed to promoting zero waste and chemical safety, is a member of both the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) and the Safe Toys Coalition.



04 September 2013

EcoWaste Coalition Bares Unbridled Sale of Banned Insect Killers in Metro Cities

 FDA-banned aerosol insecticides and mosquito coils on sale in the market.
 Seven unregistered aerosol insecticides found on sale in the market.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an advocate for zero waste and chemical safety, has deplored the unrestrained sale of recalled household insecticides in the market.

This developed as the group’s AlerToxic Patrol found 100 retail outlets in four cities selling banned  products for killing mosquitoes, flies and cockroaches, including stalls in discount shopping malls, miscellaneous stores and ambulant street vendors.

“The sale of banned insect killers appears to be out of control,” lamented Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“To stop the illegal trade in its tracks, we call upon our consumers not to buy these dangerous goods as we appeal to vendors to send back their remaining stocks to their sources for environmentally-sound disposal,” he said.  

“We also urge the Bureau of Customs to step in and foil further shipments of these bad products into the country,” he added.
Market surveillance conducted by the group on September 1 and 3 found 65 retail outlets in Divisoria, Quiapo and Sta. Cruz, Manila City openly selling the banned items, 21 in Baclaran and Libertad, Pasay City, 9 in Baclaran, Para├▒aque City and 5 in Guadalupe, Makati City.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week issued FDA Advisory 2013-031 warning consumers against buying unregistered household insecticides that have not passed the safety and efficacy assessment of the agency.

These include nine insecticide sprays such as Baolilai Aerosol Insecticide, Big Bie Pai Aerosol Insecticide, Big Bie Pai Extra Power Flying Insect Killer, Butiki Water-Based Multi-Insect Killer, General Toad Aerosol Insecticide, Read a Dream Insecticide, Sun Universe Frogking Insecticide Aerosol Lemon, Tianshi Insect Killer, and Wawang Frogking Insecticide Aerosol, which are being sold in the market for P65 to P80 each.

“These products are harmful, toxic and imminently dangerous to human and animal health,” the FDA through its advisory said.
The EcoWaste Coalition also found seven other insecticides not included in the agency’s List of Registered Household Hazardous Products on sale in the market, and which the group requested the FDA to recall.

These include Angel Insecticide Aerosol (750 ml), Angel Insecticide Aerosol (600 ml), Black Swirl Wind Aerosol Insecticide, Goldeer Insecticide, Kingever Insect Killer Spray, MG Mega Dream Insecticide and Sky Warriors Aerosol Insecticide, which are being sold from P60 – P200 per can.  

In two letters sent to the FDA on September 2 and 4, the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized the need for enforcement activities involving the local government and police authorities to promote awareness and support for FDA Advisory 2013-031 from both the business and consumer sectors.

The group likewise reminded the public to opt for ecological and natural steps to safely manage household insects, pointing to the need to cut, if not eradicate, toxic use at home.



03 September 2013

Waste Pickers Unite for Rights, Bewail Massive Corruption in Government

Quezon City.  In the face of the pork barrel scam that has recently shaken the country, Luzon-based waste pickers unite today to bewail corruption as a dagger driven right into their hearts, trampling on their rights for social recognition and legal protection as unsung heroes of the environment.

“Our rights for social and legal recognition as respectable workers is trodden on the ground as the Filipino people’s money goes to the pockets of the few instead of being used to advance our long overdue socio-legal rights,” Louie Lizano, President of the Nagkakaisang Mananambakan ng Dumpsite Area and member of the EcoWaste Coalition, exclaimed in the native tongue during this day’s waste picker gathering at the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement Building in Quezon City.

The event that pulled together more than 60 waste pickers and different support organizations from various sites in Luzon saw the crafting of the participant waste pickers’ common agenda that will advance their general welfare and allow them to achieve their dreams and aspirations of a better living condition and sustained livelihood, on the way to their rise above poverty and a better future for their children.

“Zero waste workers remain poorest of the poor, while the Filipino people’s money makes richer the already rich few,” added Eileen Sison, campaigner for zero waste and waste picker rights.

“The corrupted money could have been rightly used to advance the waste pickers’ right to social protection benefits, such as the SSS and PhilHealth; guarantee their occupational health and safety; and allow their rightful integration into the formal solid waste management (SWM) system, providing them a safe, clean, decent and secured profession with wastes,” Sison further said.

According to the Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), waste pickers are either “individuals working and rummaging through garbage on dumps, informal private collectors selling recyclables, or organized sorters tied with unions, cooperatives and associations.”

The activity also gained the support of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), through its Executive Director, Emelita Aguinaldo, who explained that “waste pickers are the country’s most neglected sector and they need to be mainstreamed in the program of both the local and the national government.”

The NSWMC adopted the 2010 National Framework Plan for the Informal Sector in Solid Waste Management (SWM) via Resolution No. 47 to formalize the inclusion of the waste pickers into the SWM system by “providing them with a favorable policy environment, skills development and access to a secured livelihood, employment and social services.”

"The challenges concerning the NSWMC Framework Plan lie in its efficient implementation in more than 42,000 barangays; its close monitoring that will ensure that this system is effectively enforced; and the education of key stakeholders, with this latter alone requiring an approximate minimum of PhP 84 million to be accomplished," Rey Palacio, Project Coordinator for EcoWaste Coalition's Informal Waste Sector Project, said.

“While some waste pickers still opt to continue working with wastes but in a dignified manner, there are several others who prefer alternative livelihoods. The waste pickers look up to the government for the necessary financial support towards the crafting and implementation of appropriate, effective and sustainable programs and projects that will uplift the waste pickers’ living and working conditions,” Palacio added.

For years, waste pickers in the country continue to toil under an apathetic state policy and fight for a dignified life and decent livelihood as they struggle for recognition and the improvement of their working conditions. Despite their positive economic, social and environmental impact to the communities they live in, the government has yet to institutionalize supportive and inclusive policies and regulations that will safeguard waste pickers’ rights and ensure occupational stability and social protection.

The waste picker workshop allowed participants to share their stories of growth and development, as well as challenges being encountered as they make a living from wastes. Some of these challenges include secured access to waste; exposure to health risks and hazards due to the presence of toxic, hazardous and infectious wastes in various disposal facilities; and insufficient government support. To take on these challenges, the participants need to have stronger organizations that will pro-actively fight for their social inclusion and improved economic conditions. 

Similar waste picker events in the Visayas and Mindanao, participated in by some 110 individuals in total from three waste picker areas in the Visayas and four in Mindanao, were held in July 2013 to discuss the common issues and concerns of the waste pickers and come up with action agenda for the advancement of their rights and general well-being.