30 June 2013

Banned Mercury-Tainted Cosmetics Resurface in Pasay City


Dangerous skin whitening cosmetics banned by health authorities for containing highly toxic levels of mercury had resurfaced in Pasay City, the EcoWaste Coalition warned Sunday.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-governmental organization promoting zero waste and chemical safety, cautioned consumers after finding 12 mercury-laden skin whitening products in the market of which 8 were among those already proscribed by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).
 
“Retailers should stop selling cosmetics without FDA approval and take products laced with mercury and other toxic substances off the shelves,” appealed Aileen Lucero, Acting National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Consumers need to be extra vigilant and should not pay for poison cosmetics that can surely endanger their health,” she added.   

“In fact, the best way for consumers to protect themselves from mercury harm is for them to be happy with their natural skin tone and stay away from spurious whitening products,” she emphasized.

The group’s AlerToxic Patrol bought the products on June 29 and 30 for P45 to P250 each from discount stores selling imported cosmetics at the Baclaran Super Mall, Baclaran Terminal Plaza Mall and Empire Centre EDSA Mall.

Subsequent chemical analysis by the group using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device found all the 12 products in violation of the FDA’s allowable limit of one part per million (ppm) for mercury in cosmetics:

1. Doctor Bai Intensive White Revitalizing and Speckle Removing Set, 23,700 ppm
2. Yudantang Sea Pearl and Papaya 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Cream, 12,700 ppm
3. Beauty Excellent Lamb Placenta Whitening and Anti-Aging Cream, 11,500 ppm
4. Yinni Green Tea Quick Acting Whitener and Speckle Remover Package, 7,711 ppm
5. Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, 5,330 ppm
6. Huayuenong 12 Days Whitening and Speckle Removing Wrecking Set, 4,905 ppm
7. The Flower Woman 7-Day Whitening and Spot and Night Set Cream, 4,675 ppm
8. S’Zitang 10 Days Eliminating Freckle Day and Night Set, 4,326 ppm
9. S’Zitang 7 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, 4,212 ppm
10. Sara Glutathione Sheep Placenta Whitening and Anti-Spot Cream, 3,407 ppm
11. Whitening cream (labeled in Chinese characters; two mini-jars), 2,939 ppm
12. Bihuayn Whitening Day Cream, 13.3 ppm

Yudantang, Huayuenong, Bihuayn and the set of two mini-jars of whitening cream labeled in Chinese characters are not yet included in the list of items banned by the FDA.
From January 8, 2010 to March 14, 2013, the FDA had altogether banned 77 mercury-loaded skin whitening creams, including 25 that were brought to the agency’s attention by the EcoWaste Coalition.

“We hope the FDA will release shortly an updated
list of banned mercury-containing cosmetics for the guidance of consumers and sellers alike,” Lucero said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified mercury as one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern,” warning that “exposure to mercury – even small amounts – may cause serious health problems.”

WHO had warned that mercury in skin lightening products such as creams and soaps can harm the kidneys, and also bring about skin discoloration, rashes and scarring as well as reduce dermal resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.

In view of its discovery of toxic cosmetics trade in Pasay City, the EcoWaste Coalition urges:

1.  The Pasay City Government through re-elected Mayor Tony Calixto and Vice-Mayor Marlon Pesebre to push for an ordinance that will ban and punish trade in mercury-containing products in the city.

2.  Th Anti-Fraud adn Commercial Crime Division (AFCCD) of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to confiscate the contraband toxic cosmetics and duly charge violators.  
“With the help of all sectors, particularly our local government and police officials, this unlawful trade of dangerous cosmetics will soon be a thing of the past,” Lucero said.

-end-

Reference:
http://www.fda.gov.ph/advisories-2/cosmetic-2
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs361/en/index.html
www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/mercury_flyer.pdf

22 June 2013

Group Bares Rampant Sale of Banned Skin Whitening Cosmetics in QC


An environmental and health watchdog has revealed that skin whitening products containing mercury, a brain, kidney and skin poison, are being sold in Quezon City in clear defiance of the government.

In test buys conducted in Quezon City from June 19 to 21, the EcoWaste Coalition's AlerToxic Patrol managed to obtain 10 imported skin whitening creams, including 7 that were among those banned by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) in 2010-2013 for exceeding the allowable limit of one part per million (ppm) for mercury in cosmetics.

The illegal items were bought for P100 to P285 each mostly from discount shops and tiangge stalls selling food supplements, herbal medicines and personal care products at the Araneta Center, Ever Gotesco Commonwealth Center, Fairview Center Mall and Novaliches Plaza Mall.

Equipped with an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, the group analyzed the samples and detected elevated concentrations of mercury in all 10 items in the range of  2,059 ppm to 63,800 ppm.

The group early this week revealed the illegal trade in mercury-containing cosmetics in the cities of Makati and Manila, particularly in Chinese drug stores.

Altogether, the group’s week-long market surveillance in Makati, Manila and Quezon Cities netted 30 units of mercury-loaded skin whitening products representing 22 brands.

“By all accounts, the illicit trade of mercury-laced cosmetics has gone rampant and dangerously out of control despite government efforts.  National and local authorities undeniably need to flex their muscles, hold illegal importers, distributors and vendors criminally liable, and uphold the  consumer right to product safety," said Aileen Lucero, Acting National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

Lucero said that “the violation of the people’s right to health under the guise of fairer complexion and flawless beauty, affecting mostly poor to middle-class women consumers, is intolerable” as she appealed to the government to “remove the mercury-tainted skin care products at once.”

Based on the chemical analysis conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition, the following 10 skin whitening creams were found laden with excessive amounts of mercury:

1. Yudantang Green Cucumber and Ginseng 10 Days Whitening Speckles Removed Essence, 63,800 ppm
2. Yudantang Sheep Essence and Green Cucumber and Ginseng 10 Specific Eliminating Freckle Spot  and Double  Whitening Sun Block Cream, 43,300 ppm
3. Yudantang Green Cucumber and Ginseng 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Cream, 35,500 ppm
4. Bihuayn Whitening Cream Day, 12,400 ppm
5. Pretty Model Whitening and Freckle Removing Day and Night Cream, 7,900 ppm
6. S’Zitang 7 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, 6,730 ppm
7. Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, 5,425 ppm
8. Jiaoli 7 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, 3,974 ppm
9. Jiaoli 7 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, 3,959 ppm
10. Miss Beauty Excellent Therapy Whitening Cream, 2,059  ppm

Three of the above products --- Yudantang Green Cucumber and Ginseng 10 Days Whitening Speckles Removed Essence,  Yudantang Sheep Essence and Green Cucumber and Ginseng 10 Specific Eliminating Freckle Spot and Double Whitening Sun Block Cream, and Bihuayn Whitening Cream --- are not yet included in the FDA’s list of 77 banned mercury-laden skin whitening products.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (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.

-end-

Reference:

http://www.unep.org/hazardoussubstances/Portals/9/Mercury/AwarenessPack/English/UNEP_Mod1_UK_Web.pdf

21 June 2013

EcoWaste Coalition Hails Makati Plastic Bag and Styro Ban (Calls for a Nationwide Legislation Against the Use of Plastic and Other Non-biodegradable Packaging Materials)

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network upholding responsible consumption and zero waste, lauded the implementation of City Ordinance No. 2003-095, banning the use, sale and distribution of plastic, polystyrene and other non-biodegradable packaging materials in Makati City starting June 20.

“We laud the government and people of Makati for this long-overdue environmental policy that will certainly contribute to a cleaner and greener city.  Makati has now joined a growing club of enlightened local government units that have taken bold action to cap the unrelenting consumption and disposal of plastic bags,” said Sonia Mendoza, head of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force on Plastics.

Mendoza, who also chairs the Mother Earth Foundation, pointed out that since the measure took nine long years before its implementation, “business establishments have no alibi not to comply.”

“As the plastic bag and styro ban goes full blast, we urge everyone to throw their maximum support behind the environmental ordinance and tell the world that Makati, the nation’s premier business capital, means business in protecting the environment,” she added.

The ordinance  upholds the use of environment-friendly materials as it prohibits business establishments from offering, selling, using or distributing plastic bags for use as primary or secondary packaging on dry goods, or as secondary packaging for wet goods, and altogether banning Styrofoam (polystyrene) and other materials with non-biodegradable components as containers for food, drinks, utensils and other products.

The ordinance also requires all covered establishments including barangay halls to place visibly marked “Plastic Bag Recovery Bins” at accessible areas such as building entrances and exits to serve as drop-off points for easy collection, recycling and disposal of plastic bags.

This measure comes after the nine-year grace period for business establishments to comply with the said ordinance expired last December 2012, and was subsequently extended by Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay through Executive Order No. 007-2012 until June 20 upon appeals from the business sector.

Individual violators will be fined P1,000 or imprisoned for five to 30 days, or both, depending on the court. On the other hand, owners of corporations and establishments found violating the ban have to pay a fine of P5,000 or face imprisonment from 30 days to a year, or both, and face the possibility of having their business permits or licenses revoked.

With this ban, Makati joins more than 50 local government units all over the country, including at least 9 cities in Metro Manila with similar policies in place.

Meanwhile, the EcoWaste Coalition calls for stricter measures on a nationwide scale as more localities have yet to adopt similar ordinances while some LGUs are reluctant to impose such bans because of the economic pressure from the plastic industry.

“In order to institutionalize a nationwide plastic bag ban, we need an effective legislation that will truly curb wasteful consumption and indiscriminate disposal of plastic bags, exacerbating floods amid worsening climate conditions,” Mendoza cited.

The EcoWaste Coalition reiterated the need to ban all forms of plastic bags, including oxo-biodegradable plastic bags as "these will just disintegrate into smaller and relatively toxic plastic bits, and upon mix-up with house dust, pose a greater health hazard to residents, most especially to children.”

-end-

References:
http://www.makati.gov.ph/portal/news/view.jsp?id=3028
http://www.makati.gov.ph/portal/news/view.jsp?id=3019

18 June 2013

EcoWaste Coalition Finds Mercury-Laden Cosmetics On Sale in Guadalupe, Makati City

Some shops offering food supplements and herbal medications in Barangay Guadalupe Nuevo, Makati City are also selling contraband cosmetics containing high levels of mercury, an extremely toxic chemical.

The EcoWaste Coalition issued this statement after buying five brands of illegally imported skin whitening products on June 17 from three shops located at the Guadalupe Commercial Complex and the nearby Uni Mec Supermarket.

Subsequent analysis by the group on June 18 using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer detected mercury over 7,000 times higher than the allowable limit of one part per million (ppm).

Yudantang Green Olive & Papaya Natural Essence 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Sun Block Cream registered with the highest level of mercury at 7,618 ppm, followed by Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, 5,718 ppm, Szitang 10-Day Eliminating Freckle Day & Night Set, 4,683 ppm and JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream, 3,734 ppm, while
Long Dian Tu Glutathione & Pearl Natural Whitening Essence showed no detectable mercury.

Except for Yudantang, all the samples were among those banned by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) for containing excessive amounts of mercury. Jiaoli, for instance, was banned as early as 2010.

“It’s ironic that shops selling dietary supplements and herbal remedies for improved stamina and health are also selling mercury-laden cosmetics known for damaging the kidneys and causing a variety of dermal and neurological problems,” lamented Aileen Lucero, Acting National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Mercury is extremely hazardous to health and this explains why the FDA has so far banned 77 mercury-containing skin whitening products since 2010,” she stated.

“We request our local authorities to act in order to make the cosmetics market safe for their constituents,” she said.

Specifically, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to Makati City Government to hold non-compliant business establishments accountable, including cancelling their business permits and filing criminal charges against violators.

“We appeal to Mayor Junjun Binay to help stop the illegal trade of poison cosmetics in Guadalupe, which is close to the Makati City Hall,” Lucero said.

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

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

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


-end-




Reference:

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

17 June 2013

Sec. Paje Draws Cheers from Environmentalists as Ban on Open Burning is Upheld

Photo courtesy of news.xinhuanet.com
From Quezon City to Davao City, environmental leaders heaved sigh of relief after Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon J.P.  Paje announced on Sunday that he instructed the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) to forgo the ceremonial burning of seized elephant tusks this Friday and just use a road roller to crush the tusks. 

Sec. Paje heeded the appeal aired by the EcoWaste Coalition and over 30 advocates last Thursday asking the authorities to do without the ceremonial burning as this will convey a wrong message that open burning is acceptable, as well as violate R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and R.A. 8749, the Clean Air Act.

“We welcome this enlightened decision by the DENR leadership.  We hope this translates to a wide ranging directive against the usual practice of burning confiscated goods.  The law is clear on the issue prohibiting open burning,” said environmental campaigner Von Hernandez, President of the Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition.

From Cebu City, environmental lawyer Gloria Estenzo-Ramos of the Philippine Earth Justice Center expressed “a collective sigh of relief that DENR listened” as she extolled “the strong determined voices emanating from the citizenry and civil society reminding officials to obey our largely unimplemented environmental laws, including R.A. 9003 and R.A. 8749, and not allow any burning which pollutes and adds up to the unprecedented volume of carbon concentration in the atmosphere.”

“May this incident ignite a nationwide flame of awareness and action to stop any form of burning that puts all of us in harm’s way, such as waste-to-energy incineration and the operation of more coal-fired power plants,” she added.

From Davao City, ecologist Betty Cabazares, Executive Director of Kinaiyahan Foundation noted “this is a victory for the people’s right to breathe clean air” as she reiterated the responsibility of every Filipino to protect the environment from being further degraded.

“We owe that to the future generations.  We cannot leave that responsibility to the hands of a few.  We have to be involved,” she said.

Partnership for Clean Air President Rene Pineda said “Sec. Paje’s resolve to uphold the rule of law is a categorical proof that he doesn’t only mean well but he also means business.  I take my hat off to a good public servant like him.”
While strongly opposed to open burning, the groups ardently support the efforts to end elephant poaching and stop illegal wildlife trade under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES).

The environmentalists had earlier recommended that the seized ivory tusks be simply crushed and pulverized by a road roller and then buried for composting at an appropriate site within the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center to ensure that the tusks are not returned to illegal trade,
-end-

16 June 2013

EcoWaste Coalition Exposes Illegal Trade in Mercury-Loaded Skin Whitening Cosmetics (Manila Councilor Vows to Have Ordinance Enacted to End Unlawful Trade in Mercury-Containing Cosmetics)

 
Top 5 Products with the Highest Levels of Mercury: 1) Yudantang Ginseng and Green Cucumber 10 Days Whitening Speckles Removed Essence, 59,000 ppm, 2) Yudantang 10 Specific Eliminating Freckle Spot and Double Whitening Sun Block Cream, 50,000 ppm, 3)  Beauty Girl Egg White and Tomato 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Cream, 39,400 ppm, 4)  Natural Orange Whitening and Anti-Aging Package, 37,000 ppm and 5)  Hengxueqian Whitening Set, 25,300 ppm.


A toxics watchdog has for the nth time called attention to the illegal trade in skin whitening cosmetics loaded with mercury, a potent neurotoxin, that are being sold to uninformed consumers, especially at Chinese drug stores in the city of Manila.

After buying and testing 15 units of skin whitening creams imported from Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China, the EcoWaste Coalition revealed that all samples showed extreme levels of mercury in violation of the allowable limit of one part per million (ppm).

With the aid of an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, the group detected mercury ranging from 286  ppm to as high as 59,000 ppm in the 15 samples, 10 of which were already banned by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).

The samples costing from P80 to P320 were purchased on June 15, 2013 from 10 Chinese drug stores located in Binondo, Divisoria, Quiapo and Sta. Cruz, Manila, and from another Chinese drug store in Cubao, Quezon City.

“Consumers need to be wary of skin lightening products, particularly those which are not properly labeled and registered, as these often contain undisclosed quantities of mercury that can cause ill health.  Be inquisitive when you shop as what you don’t know can harm you,” said Aileen Lucero, Acting National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

Citing information from the World Health Organization, Lucero warned that exposure to mercury in skin whitening products can damage the kidneys and also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as reduce skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.
The EcoWaste Coalition’s latest toxic discovery of mercury in skin whitening cosmetics prompted re-elected Manila District 2 Councilor Numero Lim to announce his plan to file an ordinance banning mercury-laced cosmetics and imposing harsh penalties to deter violations as soon as the new session commences

“This unlawful trade of dangerous cosmetics loaded with mercury has been embarrassingly going on for years and has to be stopped once and for all.  I’m sure Mayor Erap, Vice-Mayor Isko and my fellow councilors will throw their unequivocal support behind such urgent action to curb mercury exposure from cosmetics and protect public health,” Councilor Lim said in a statement sent via the EcoWaste Coalition.


 
The 15 samples found laced with excessive levels of mercury include:
1. Yudantang Ginseng and Green Cucumber 10 Days Whitening Speckles Removed Essence,  59,000 ppm
2.  Yudantang 10 Specific Eliminating Freckle Spot  and Double Whitening Sun Block Cream,  50,000 ppm
3.  Beauty Girl Egg White and Tomato 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Cream, 39,400 ppm
4.  Natural Orange Whitening and Anti-Aging Package, 37,000 ppm
5.  Hengxueqian Whitening Set, 25,300 ppm
6.  S’Zitang 10 Days Eliminating Freckle Day and Night Set, 6,499 ppm
7.  S’Zitang 7 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, 5,233 ppm
8.  Bai Li Tou Hong Cream, 4,463 ppm
9.  Jiaoli 7 Days Eliminating Freckle AB Set, 3,764 ppm
10. Gemli Glutathione Hydrolyzed Collagen, 3,565 ppm
11. Gemli Glutathione Grapeseed Extract Whitening and Anti-Aging, 2,251 ppm
12. Gakadi, 2,101 ppm
13. “Special Cream” (1 jar), 1,153 ppm
14. One product labeled in Chinese characters with red flower and green leaves, 1,108 ppm
15. Aichun Beauty Aloe Vera Whitening and Speckle Removing Series, 286 ppm

Five of the above products were among those recommended by the EcoWaste Coalition to the FDA for banning as early as February 2013.

These include Yudantang Ginseng and Green Cucumber 10 Days Whitening Speckles Removed Essence,  Yudantang 10 Specific Eliminating Freckle Spot  and Double Whitening Sun Block Cream,  Hengxueqian Whitening Set, Gakadi and the Chinese-labeled skin whitening cream with red flower and green leaves.

To effectively combat the continued proliferation of mercury-containing cosmetics in the market, Lucero called on the:

1. Department of Health through the FDA to intensify post-market surveillance and sue violators, as well as to promptly update the list of banned mercury-containing cosmetics for the guidance of importers, distributors, retailers and consumers.

2.  Department of Interior and Local Government to mobilize LGUs in the crucial grassroots action to fight the illegal trade of mercury-laden cosmetics.
3. Bureau of Customs to stop the smuggling of contraband cosmetics into the country’s ports.

At the same time, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to the cosmetics industry to respect the rights of consumers to product information and to product safety, and to only manufacture products that are guaranteed safe for humans and the environment.    

The EcoWaste Coalition has immediately reported its latest findings to the FDA through its “Consumer eReport Facility on Cosmetic Products.”

-end-

Reference:

www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/mercury_flyer.pdf


 

13 June 2013

NGO Letter Urging DENR and PAWB Not to Burn Seized Elephant Tusks

13 June 2013

Hon. Ramon J.P. Paje
Secretary
Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Hon. Theresa Mundita S. Lim
Director
Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau

Dear Secretary Paje and Director Lim,

We write with urgency to signify our objection to the plan of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to burn about five tons of confiscated elephant tusks on June 21, 2013 at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC). As per DENR press release dated 9 June 2013, "the seized ivory tusks will be crushed by a road roller and burned..." “to show to the whole world that the Philippines will not tolerate illegal wildlife trade.”

At the outset, let us state that we are in full support of the global effort to stop illegal wildlife trade under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) of which the Philippines is a party to, and that we are one with conservationists in putting an end to elephant poaching.

However, burning the confiscated tusks goes against the prohibition against the open burning of municipal solid waste enshrined in two of our major environmental laws: R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and R.A. 8749, the Clean Air Act.

Even if the intent is only to conduct “ceremonial burning,” we remain anxious as this will likely send a confusing message to the general public from the environmental authorities that open burning is acceptable. A photo showing the Environment Secretary setting a pile of tusks on fire may be interpreted as a tacit endorsement that “open burning is okay.”

The “open burning is okay” message that may be generated from such a “ceremonial burning” will also not serve the objectives of the Integrated Persistent Organic Pollutants Management Project (IPOPs Project) that the DENR is implementing with financial assistance from the Global Environment Facility and the World Bank to assist the country in meeting its obligations under the Stockholm Convention, specifically with respect to preventing emissions from the open burning of agricultural and municipal solid waste.

To describe the destruction of the confiscated ivory tusks through a process that will create and scatter pollutants (or send a wrong message that “open burning is okay”) as “one of the highlights of the national celebration of June as Environment Month” is completely ironic and a clear breach of the people’s right to breathe clean air that the state recognizes and commits to uphold.

In lieu of open burning, we recommend that the seized ivory tusks be simply crushed and pulverized by a road roller until the tusks are rendered useless to traders and users to ensure that the same are not returned to illegal trade, and then buried for composting at an appropriate site within the NAPWC.

The eco-burial site can serve as a lasting memorial to our country’s commitment to ending illegal wildlife trade and to poaching that is mercilessly killing the elephants. It will be fitting to install a marker at the site made out of combined cement and crushed tusks in memory of the murdered elephants.

We thank you very much for considering our proposal not to burn the confiscated elephant tusks.

Sincerely yours,

Aileen Lucero, EcoWaste Coalition
Roy Alvarez, Alaga Lahat
Jaybee Garganera, Alyansa Tigil Mina
Atty. Heidi M. Caguioa, Animal Kingdom Foundation
Michael M. Alunan, Atin'To Development Services
Joey Papa, Bangon Kalikasan
Noli Abinales, Buklod Tao

Sr. Angie Villanueva, R.C., Cenacle Sisters/JPICC-AMRSP
Esther Pacheco, COCAP
Antonio Claparols, Ecological Society of the Philippines
Dr. Nina Galang, Green Convergence
Von Hernandez, Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Patria Gwen M.L. Borcena, Greenresearch

Merci Ferrer, Health Care Without Harm
Manny C. Calonzo, IPEN
Betty T. Cabazares, Kinaiyahan Foundation
Neneng Jocson, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Dr. Donna Reyes, Miriam P.E.A.C.E.
Sonia Mendoza, Mother Earth Foundation

Romy Hidalgo, November 17 Movement
Rene Pineda, Partnership for Clean Air
Ana Cabrera, Philippine Animal Welfare Society
Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Philippine Earth Justice Center

Rodne Galicha, Sibuyan ISLE
Mac de Villa, Sining Yapak
Sr. Arcelita Sarnillo, St. Paul de Chartres Health Care Ministry

Ofel Panganiban, Zero Waste Philippines
Elsie Brandes-De Veyra
Dr. Helen Mendoza
Fely Soledad
Atty. Ron. Gutierrez
Atty. Marlon Manuel
Atty. Amang Mejia
Atty. Antonio Oposa, Jr.
(signatories as of 13 June 2013, 8:00 am)


11 June 2013

Independence Day Souvenir Items Found Laced with Lead and Other Toxic Chemicals (Watchdog Says Flag and Other National Symbols Should be Toxics-Free)


Independence Day souvenir items with low or non-detectable heavy metals (above) and those with lead and other harmful chemicals (below).

Some souvenir items bearing images of the National Flag and the National Coat of Arms were found to contain injurious chemicals, a health and environmental watchdog revealed on the eve of the 115th anniversary of the country’s declaration of independence from Spain.

The EcoWaste Coalition bared its toxic findings after analyzing 25 samples of souvenir products that it procured from retailers in Quiapo, Manila City and Cubao, Quezon City.

Using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, the group uncovered lead and other harmful substances in 18 of the 25 samples (72%), mainly on the flag and coat of arms designs of metallic key holders and pins.

“The lead levels found on the paints used for the flag and coat of arms motifs of the souvenir articles we screened are among the highest we ever detected,”observed Aileen Lucero, Acting National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Considering our shocking discovery, we find it apt that R.A. 8491, or the 'Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines,' be amended to prohibit the use of leaded paint and other hazardous materials in the making of our flag and other national symbols and in products featuring such symbols.  These revered symbols of our nationhood should be toxics-free, posing no risks to human health and the environment,” she stated.

“While leaded decorative paint is highly regulated in many countries, the Aquino government  has been slow in adopting a solid policy that will phase out and ultimately ban its manufacture and use in consumer products, as well as in homes, schools, playgrounds and other places where children frequently gather,” Lucero noted.

“Eliminating toxic products and replacing them with clean and safe ones should be a rallying point in our nation’s uphill struggle for chemical safety, public health and zero waste,” she stressed.

Among the flag-based souvenir items with lead exceeding the US limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) for lead in paint and surface coatings include:

1. A shot glass with embossed flag (P69.75), 60,400 ppm
2. A silver key chain with vertical flag (P40), 58,100 ppm
3. A “National Coat of Arms” pin (P40), 37,800 ppm
4. A silver key chain with waving flag (P40), 34,100 ppm
5. A vertical flag pin (P 40), 26,100 ppm
6. A round key chain with flag on a pole (P40), 14,800 ppm
7. A waving flag pin (P49.75), 13,400 ppm
8. A silver key chain with plastic-coated straight flag (P99.75), 12,100
9. A golden “National Coat of Arms” key chain (P100), 12,000 ppm
10. A horizontal straight flag pin (P49.75), 10,400 ppm
11. A white mug with waving flag (P100), 9,608 ppm
12. A golden flag key chain and bottle opener, (P55), 8,696 ppm

Aside from lead, the shot glass also had 6,251 ppm of arsenic, 2,889 ppm of cadmium, 365 ppm of antimony and 891 ppm of chromium.

Samples of miniature cloth and paper flags showed no detectable levels of lead, but a plastic one yielded 877 ppm of lead.

Exposure to lead, a highly hazardous chemical, can bring about a variety of adverse health effects, especially for foetuses, infants and young children, including damage to the brain and the central nervous system, delayed mental and physical development, attention and learning problems and hearing difficulties, the EcoWaste Coalition warned.

For adults, lead exposure can cause miscarriages and other difficulties during pregnancy, reproductive disorders, high blood pressure, muscle joint paint and neurological problems, the group said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and other health authorities have not identified a safe threshold for lead exposure with WHO categorically stating “there is no tolerable weekly intake for lead.”

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.

-end-

http://www.chanrobles.com/republicactno8491.htm

www.who.int/ceh/publications/leadguidance.pdf

09 June 2013

EcoWaste Coalition Finds 125 Poison Toys on Sale Near Public Schools in 7 Metro Cities


 Top 12 leaded children's products
 Leaded action figures
 Leaded animal toys
 Leaded mini cars
Mercury-laced lipstick and make-up set

 
What do some sipa, trumpo and holen, fun lipstick and make-up set, play rings, action figures, animal toys and other popular kiddie play things have in common?
 
 
Answer: Hidden toxic ingredients, and lots of them!
 
 
An environmental and health watchdog made this remark after finding harmful chemicals in assorted children’s products being sold by retailers near 38 public elementary schools in the cities of Caloocan, Makati, Malabon, Manila, Pasay, Quezon and Taguig.
 
 
The EcoWaste Coalition reported finding arsenic, antimony, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury above levels of concern in 125 of 325 samples (38%) bought by the group in time for the resumption of school classes.
 
 
Costing P5 to P50 each, the mostly improperly labelled samples showed worrisome concentrations of toxic chemicals based on the analysis conducted by the group on June 4 and 5 using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer.
 
 
For instance, lead (a potent neurotoxin) above the US limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) for paint and surface coatings was detected in 72 samples with one item having a whopping 37,900 ppm of lead.    
 
 
Mercury (another potent neurotoxin) up to 306 ppm was discovered in 18 of the samples, mostly in play lipstick and make-up, way above the ASEAN limit of 1 ppm for cosmetics.
 
 
Among the children’s products that had the highest levels of lead were:
 
 
1. A water color set, 37,900 ppm
2. A sipa (yellow plastic threads), 34,100 ppm
3. A silver play ring with Picachu image, 18,800 ppm
4. A yellow wrist strap with Angry Birds design, 14,300 ppm
5. A yellow and orange wooden trumpo, 14,000 ppm
6. A necklace with broken heart pendant, 11,000 ppm
7. A red plastic trumpo, 5,157 ppm
8. A toy laser pointer, 4,427 ppm
9. A blue baller marked “Kain, Tulog, Dota,” 3,594 ppm
10. A multi-colored wooden trumpo, 3,488 ppm
11. A plastic fish figure, 2,641 ppm
12. A plastic Teddy Bear earrings, 2,543 ppm
 
 
Also, the EcoWaste Coalition detected lead in the plastic containers of four candy products.
 
 
As far as mercury is concerned, the group found very high levels of mercury in the following play cosmetics:
 
 
1. A “Dream Girl” make-up set, 306 ppm
2. A “moisture lip cream,” 179 ppm
3. A “Fashion vogue” make-up set, 170 ppm
 
 
Moreover, the group reported finding items that could pose serious choking hazards to young kids such as tiny magnetic toys and a toy that looks exactly like a medicine capsule.
 
 
“We deplore the sale of these poison toys that in the eyes of innocent children are harmless and fun to play with,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
 
 
“Unknown to these young consumers, playing with such toxic toys can expose them to lead, especially when they put these things into their mouths that kids often do,” he said.
 
 
“The lead ingested by a child seeps into the bloodstream and gets distributed to body cells, tissues and organs with the nervous system as the main target for toxicity,” he explained.
 
 
“The developing brains and nervous systems of young children are most susceptible to the injurious and irreversible effects of lead,” he pointed out.
 
 
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “lead poisoning is a serious child health concern,” warning 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.”
 
 
Like lead, exposure to mercury even in small amounts may cause serious health problems and, according to WHO, “neurological and behavioural disorders may be observed after inhalation, ingestion or dermal exposure of different mercury compounds.”
 
 
To avoid kids from falling prey to poison toys, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to toy vendors to only sell duly labelled and registered non-toxic toys.
 
 
It also pressed national and local government agencies to initiate enforcement actions that will remove poison toys out of commerce.
 
 
Recognizing their indispensable role in ensuring children’s health and safety, the group urged parents and teachers to provide children with information about lead and mercury hazards and guide them on how to avoid exposure such as by not biting or chewing their toys and by thoroughly washing their hands before eating.
 
 
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.


-end-

Reference:

WHO Lead Factsheet:
http://www.who.int/heca/infomaterials/lead.pdf

WHO Mercury Factsheet:
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs361/en/index.html