30 June 2014

Pasay LGU Urged to Take Action vs. Deadly Silver Jewelry Cleaner

A toxics watchdog has urged the Pasay City Government led by Mayor Antonino Calixto to take strong action to stop preventable deaths in the city due to the ingestion of illegally traded silver jewelry cleaner.

The EcoWaste Coalition specifically asked the Pasay City
Council to enact an ordinance that will impose severe fines and penalties to violators of the ban on cyanide-laced silver jewelry cleaner following a string of fatal poisoning cases in the city.

“Despite the ban on its production, distribution and sale, the number of cyanide poisoning deaths due to the intake of silver cleaning agent continues to rise,” lamented Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

In Pasay City, for instance,
four-year old Rheven Mendoza of D. Santiago St. died last June 21 after drinking silver cleaner by accident, while on May 17, Joceyln Garcia, 22 and Rholiza Legan, 24, of St. Mary St., Maricaban were killed after mistakenly drinking the poisonous liquid.  In both incidents, the clear, water-like silver cleaning solution was stored on a plastic bottle.

Acute poisoning happens when the cyanide content of the cleaning liquid is absorbed by the body via ingestion, inhalation or skin absorption, blocking the utilization of oxygen at the cell, tissue and organ levels and causing death.

"The Pasay City Government and other local government units (LGUs) need to step in and exercise the powers vested on them to put a stop to these senseless deaths,” Dizon said.

A City Ordinance should be crafted and passed at once to halt the sale of cyanide-laden silver cleaner, the EcoWaste Coalition suggested. 

To be effective, it should provide for information activities targeting businesses and consumers, and incorporate strong compliance monitoring, enforcement and penalty provisions, the group said.

“Even if the City Ordinance is not yet in place, we appeal to Mayor Calixto and the Pasay City Government to act without delay in keeping with the responsibility of LGUs to protect the public health and welfare under the Local Government Code and the Constitution,” Dizon said.

In September 2010, the Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued a joint advisory banning the sale of silver jewelry cleaners containing cyanide and other toxic substances, as well as their importation, manufacturing, distribution and sale without product registration and labeling.



Joint DOH-DENR Advisory on “Ban on Silver Cleaning Solution Containing Cyanide and other Toxic Substances,” September 2010:

DOH Health Advisory on Silver Jewelry Cleaners,” July 2010:

29 June 2014

Laboratory Tests Confirm Toxic Lead in Yellow Plastic Sando Bags

Some plastic bags contain lead, a highly toxic metal banned in the manufacturing of food and beverage packaging.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, revealed its hottest toxic discovery as laboratory tests confirmed the presence of lead ranging from 168 parts per million (ppm) to 521 ppm in five brands of locally-made yellow plastic sando bags.

The group released the results ahead of the International Plastic Bag-Free Day this Thursday, July 3.

“The lead in these single-use carry bags could be attributed to the ink or colorant used to color the bags yellow,” stated Sonia Mendoza, Chairman of Mother Earth Foundation and Vice-President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

As part of its campaign to promote business and industry compliance to the recently promulgated DENR Administrative Order 2013-024, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, the group purchased five packs of yellow sando bags in Divisoria, Manila.

The said policy strictly prohibits the use of lead in the production of packaging for food and drink.

SGS, a global testing company, performed the test using US EPA Method 3052 for the determination of total lead by inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectroscopy/atomic absorption spectroscopy (ICP-OES/AAS).

Based on the laboratory analyses, “Centrum” yellow sando bag had 168 ppm of lead, “Swimmer” 322 ppm, “White Dove” 365 ppm, “Sunshine” 437 ppm and “Mercury” 521 ppm.

“Our discovery of lead in these plastic sando bags, which are typically used for both dry and wet goods, including cooked or raw foodstuff, gives one more reason why consumers should ditch plastic bags in favor of eco-friendly and non-toxic reusable bags and containers,” she said.

“While the tests were not meant to establish if the lead in these plastic bags could leach and pose risk to human health, it’s crystal clear that lead is being introduced to commerce through these bags,” she pointed out.

“These toxic bags would later end up as garbage, sent to the dumps, discarded in waterways or incinerated as  fuel in cement kilns, causing far-reaching and persistent environmental contamination as lead, being an element,  cannot be destroyed,” she lamented. 

Lead released through the incineration of lead-containing waste is a major source of childhood lead exposure, according to the booklet “Childhood Lead Poisoning” published by the World Health Organization.

In view of the laboratory findings, the EcoWaste Coalition renewed its appeal to the general public to switch to reusable carry bags and containers that do not contain lead and other toxins such as cadmium and mercury. 

The group likewise asked the public to exercise their right to product information and insist on knowing what chemicals are present in bags and  containers being offered for sale, plastic or not, single-use or reusable. 

The group also emphasized the need for a national law that would ban plastic bags altogether and avoid categorizing bags that allows circumvention of the law.

"Non-reusable bags must be phased out altogether including so-called degradable bags, or lead-free bags - if there is such a thing -, which are just proprietary attempts to perfect a wrong idea."



http://www.toxicsinpackaging.org/projects_publications.html (go to fact sheet)

Note: Under the model Toxics in Packaging Legislation in US, “no intentional introduction of any amount of the four metals (lead, mercury,cadmium and hexavalent chromium) is allowed.  The sum of the concentration levels of incidentally  introduced lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium present in any package or individual packaging component shall not exceed 100 parts per million by weight.”

26 June 2014

Photos from the "Lead and Mercury Safe Schools for Bright and Healthy Children" Event at Commonwealth Elementary School,24 June 2014, Organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the European Union and the EcoWaste Coalition

Photo 1 by Jhun Dantes
Photo 2 by Jhun Dantes
Photo 3 by Jhun Dantes
Photo 4 by Jhun Dantes
Photo 5 by Jhun Dantes
Photo 6 by Jay Directo
Photo 7 by Jay Directo
Photo 8 by Jhun Dantes
Photo 9 by Jay Directo


Photo 1: Mr. Matthieu, Penot, EU Attache for Energy, Environment and Climate; Hon. Ramon J.P. Paje, DENR Secretary; H.E. Guy Ledoux, EU Ambassador (left to right) with pediatric toxicologist and educator  Dr. Irma Makalinao and Ms. Prexy Longasa and other representatives of the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers (partly hidden).

Photo 2, 3 & 4: Hon. Ramon J.P. Paje, DENR Secretary, H.E. Guy Ledoux, EU Ambassador and Hon. Juan Miguel Cuna, EMB Director deliver their speeches.

Photo 5 & 6:  H.E. Guy Ledoux, Hon. Ramon J.P. Paje and other distinguished guests endorse a Solidarity Statement expressing support for action to promote lead-free, mercury-free school environment towards a conducive learning space to nurture bright and healthy kids.

Photo 7:  Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje and EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux join students of Commonwealth Elementary School in promoting children's health against exposure to toxic lead and mercury that can damage their brains and block their full development.

Photo 8:  Differently abled students of Commonwealth Elementary School mingle with Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje and EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux.

Photo 9: Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje paint a classroom wall with lead-safe Boysen and Davies paints as part of the campaign to make schools safe from leaded paint and dust that can permanently damage the developing brain and cause other adverse health effects.


EcoWaste Coalition Urges a "Zero Waste" Welcome for Pope Francis "to Counter the Culture of Waste and Disposable"

The upcoming visit of Pope Francis in January 2015 is a beautiful occasion to roll out a well-timed campaign for a “Zero Waste Pilipinas.”

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, believes that the visit of the acclaimed “green pope” provides a good opportunity to rally the entire nation “to counter the culture of waste and disposable” to prevent and reduce trash and keep the surroundings litter-free.

Last year, during the celebration of the World Environment Day on June 5, Pope Francis urged everyone “to make a serious commitment to respect and protect creation, to be attentive to every person, to counter the culture of waste and disposable, to promote a culture of solidarity and of encounter.”

“The pope’s visit is an opportune time to roll out a campaign that will show our people’s unity and determination to switch to a ‘Zero Waste Pilipinas’ where waste prevention and reduction is the norm of life,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“As January is ‘Zero Waste Month,’ it’s only fitting that the pope’s itinerary be waste-free,” she said.

“It will be very sad and ironic if the activities of Pope Francis, particularly the huge outdoor assemblies, will leave tons of garbage behind as the country observes the ‘Zero Waste Month’.  We should avoid a repeat of the enormous garbage at the closing Mass of the 1995 World Youth Day in Manila, presided over by then Pope John Paul II and which drew over five million attendees,” she pointed out.

Proclamation 760 issued by President Benigno Aquino III calls for the observance of “Zero Waste Month” every January.  “Zero Waste,” according to the proclamation, “ is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.”

“Pope Francis is known for his simplicity, his preference for public transportation, and his affection and respect for those who recycle such as the waste pickers,” Lucero noted.
“Instead of rolling out the red carpet, we should perhaps welcome him with something austere, green and waste-free in keeping with his lifestyle and philosophy,” she suggested.  

Lucero recalled that the plea for “Zero Waste” by the late Jaime Cardinal Sin in 2003 on the occasion of the 4th World Meeting of Families should inform and guide the Catholic Church in preparing for the papal visit.

The late church leader exhorted the faithful to make the said meeting a “zero waste celebration of life” and outlined four simple steps to make that happen, to wit: “1) minimize the creation of waste by using as few resources as possible at the various events, 2) avoid using plastic and disposable items, 3) separate discards into biodegradable and non-biodegradable, and 4) put them into their proper containers to facilitate recycling and make simpler the work of cleaners and collectors.” 

A waste reduction project carried out by the Archdiocese of Manila, the EcoWaste Coalition and informal recyclers from Smokey Mountain at the concluding Mass of the 4th World Meeting of Families in Rizal Park achieved a 90% waste diversion rate, retrieving 1,573 kilos of recyclable materials that were sold to recyclers and 600 kilos of food waste that were turned into compost.

"We truly hope that the visit of Pope Francis to our land will be a zero waste celebration of faith and life,” Lucero said.



24 June 2014

DENR Secretary and EU Ambassador Advocate a Lead-Free Philippines!

Photos by Chris Evangelista

24 June 2014, Quezon City.   The government of the Philippines and the European Union have joined hands to protect school children from chemicals known to have serious toxic effects on the brain.

During a school visit organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the European Union (EU), Environment Sec. Ramon J.P. Paje and EU Ambassador Guy Ledoux signed a Solidarity Statement and led stakeholders in pushing for “Lead and Mercury Safe Schools for Bright and Healthy Children.”

Lead and mercury are highly toxic chemicals known for causing lifelong and irreversible damage to a child’s brain and health even at low levels of exposure.  Childhood exposure to lead, in particular, has been blamed for reduced intelligence as measured by decreased IQ points, prompting health experts to recognize “lead caused mental retardation” as a disease.
600,000 new cases of children with intellectual disabilities due to lead exposure occur worldwide every year according to the World Health Organization.[i]

The event took place at the Commonwealth Elementary School (Commonwealth Ave., Quezon City)—regional winner for the DENR’s Search for Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Schools. Secretary Paje and Ambassador Ledoux were accompanied by senior officials from the Department of Education, as well as 200 kids, parents, local government officials, doctors, paint manufacturers and environmentalists.

Sec. Paje led  the  signing of a “Solidarity Statement” to signify stakeholders’ agreement to promote and uphold “Lead and Mercury Safe Schools,’ specifically “by using lead safe paints and safely reducing lead paint hazards to contain and minimize hazardous dust, and by switching to mercury-free alternatives towards a toxics-free, zero waste educational system.”

The event drew special attention to the Chemical Control Order (CCO) for lead and lead compounds recently promulgated by the DENR that sets 90 parts per million as total lead content limit for lead in paints, as well as prohibits the use of lead in the manufacture of beverage and food packaging, school supplies and toys.[ii]

“We want to enable our paint industry to shift to lead-free production.  There is now a global action for the elimination of lead in paints, and certainly this CCO is our way of showing our oneness with this advocacy,” stated Sec. Paje.

“Chemical safety and security must be a priority of the schools.  May this undertaking inspire more schools to commit towards lead and mercury-safe school environments for Filipino children,” he added.

Ambassador Ledoux congratulated the DENR for issuing the CCO, emphasizing that “the country’s ongoing switch to non-lead paint production is key to protecting the health of children and other vulnerable populations from the debilitating effects of lead exposure.” “A school environment that is safe from lead and other harmful chemicals will have a positive impact on children’s health and their potential to grow, develop and succeed in life,” the EU Ambassador said.

The European Union supports the Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project to eliminate lead in paint and raise public awareness about the adverse human health impacts of lead-based decorative paints, particularly on the health of children below the age of six. The project is a PHP 80 Million grant implemented in seven Asian countries. The EcoWaste Coalition is the leading project partner in the Philippines.

For her part, Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, said: “We hope DepEd can make it mandatory for all schools to require only lead safe paints for paint purchases and donations.  This will effectively curb children’s exposure to leaded paint chip and dust and bring about improved IQ, enhanced school performance and economic success later in life.”

Lucero cited a recent scientific study that calculated the economic impact of childhood lead exposure in low and middle-income countries at PHP 42 trillion per year.  The Philippines ranked second highest in Asia in terms of economic loss due to reduced economic productivity resulting from lead exposure.[iii]

During the event, the stakeholders also recognized the other efforts of the government to address the problems with lead and mercury such as the phaseout of mercury in medical devices in all healthcare facilities and institutions, the ban on consumer products with violative levels of lead and mercury, and the signing of the Minamata Convention on Mercury and the ensuing effort to get the treaty ratified.


More explanations about lead exposure through lead in paint:

Children are not generally exposed to lead from paint while the paint is still in the can or even when the paint is being newly applied to a previously unpainted or uncoated surface. Rather, the lead exposure generally occurs after the lead paint has already dried on the wall or on the article that has been painted.

Painted surfaces deteriorate with time or when disturbed, and lead from the paint then contaminates household dust and soils surrounding the home. Children can then ingest lead from dusts and soils during customary hand-to-mouth behavior, after which neurological damage occurs. 

[i] http://www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/lead/en/
[ii] http://denr.gov.ph/news-and-features/latest-news/1643-denr-prohibits-use-of-lead-in-local-production-of-food-packaging-paints-toys-other-consumer-products-.html
[iii] http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1206424/

22 June 2014

Groups Tell Loom Fans to Handle Rubber Bands with Care; Indigestible Loom Bands Can Make Pets Ill

Photos: Counterfeit Rainbow Loom and loom bands with no government-issued market authorization as sold in Divisoria and Quiapo streets.
An animal welfare group and an environmental group have reminded kids and adults who are into Rainbow Loom bracelet weaving - the hottest toy fad today - to exercise caution so as not to harm pets.
The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and the EcoWaste Coalition jointly informed the public about the potential harm posed by cute, but hard to digest rubber bands used to make bracelets that can make cats and dogs ill.
The groups aired the warning after veterinarians in US reported incidents of intestinal obstruction among pet patients due to the ingestion of rubber bands, which can cause stomach upset and seriously shatter the intestinal tract.  Symptoms of intestinal blockage include loss of appetite, nausea and diarrhea.
The incidents also prompted the manufacturers of  the original Rainbow Loom, winner of the 2014 Toy of the Year Award by the Toy Industry Association, to advise pet owners to keep the indigestible rubber bands away from pets, warning that “one customer had rubber bands surgically removed from her pet’s stomach.”
“As the rubber band bracelet craze hits the country, we urge fans to remember that these loom bands could spell danger for pets and should be handled with care to prevent pet injuries,” said Anna Cabrera, Executive Director, PAWS.
For his part, Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s  Project Protect, urged fans to be cautious when buying counterfeit bracelet making sets and related items that are cashing in on the latest craze.

On Saturday, June 21, the EcoWaste Coalition bought a fake Rainbow Loom bracelet making kit (P240/set) and seven other packs of loom bands (P15-35/pack) with no market authorization from the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) that are being sold in Divisoria and Quiapo streets, and had them screened for toxic metals using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.  

The screening showed no detectable levels of arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury and other toxic metals on the sample loom bands.
“While we did not find lead and other toxic metals on the loom bands, there is no assurance that these products are totally safe for consumers and the environment as these products have no FDA market authorization,” Dizon noted.
PAWS and EcoWaste Coalition advised loom band fans to follow the following precautionary measures to protect pets from ingesting the indigestible rubber bands:
1.  Talk to kids about the importance of keeping the rubber bands away from pets (and also from infants and toddlers).
2.  Do not leave the rubber bands or the finished products lying on the chair, table, bed or the floor where pets can get them.
3.  Secure the rubber bands in containers with cover or lid.
4.  Do not allow pets to play with rubber bands or with loom band bracelets.
5.  Refrain from adorning pet’s collar or strap with loom bands.


20 June 2014

Cebu Toy Ukuleles Found Contaminated with Lead

Colorful toy ukuleles being sold at tourist souvenir stores in Cebu City and Lapu City are laden with lead, a highly toxic chemical that is prohibited in the production of toys.

The EcoWaste Coalition,  a toxics watchdog, made the revelation after screening 10 samples of toy ukuleles for lead using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.

The samples were purchased last June 14 and 15 for P80 to P150 each from vendors of souvenir items near the Cebu Basilica de Santo Niño and at the Lapu Lapu Shrine and subsequently brought to Quezon City for XRF screening.

“Almost one year had gone by since the last screening we conducted and we still find lead in Cebu-made ukuleles,” noted Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

In July 2013, six samples of Cebu ukuleles were found positive for lead up to 13,900 parts per million (ppm), way above the 90 ppm threshold limit for lead in paints and surface coatings under the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.

Out of the 10 samples screened this time, all were found to contain lead in the range of 2,179  ppm to 26,100 ppm that will make them illegal to sell in the US, developed countries and the Philippines.

“We are disappointed to see that ukulele makers have yet to switch despite the commercial availability of lead safe paints in various colors and applications,” Dizon said.

“Toy makers should comply with the government’s regulatory policy on lead that seeks to promote the health and safety of children, workers and the environment at large,” he said.

Lead is strictly prohibited in the manufacturing of toys under the newly-issued Chemical Control Order (CCO) for lead and lead compounds by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

For her part, Moresa Tolibas, EcoWaste Coalition’s Technical Officer for the Lead Paint Elimination Proejct, warned that the “ukulele’s leaded coatings will sooner or later wear out, creating toxic chips and dust that can get into children’s hands and mouths.”

“It’s even possible for a child to bite on the painted surface of the ukulele as she or he play with it and directly ingesting high levels of lead in paints,” she said.

International health experts have determined no safe level of lead in blood, warning that even low doses can bring about irreversible damage to a child’s health.

Considered by the World Health Organization as one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern,” childhood lead exposure has been linked to irreversible brain and neurological damage resulting to decreased intelligence, learning difficulties, hearing loss, developmental delays and behavioral problems.

The EcoWaste Coalition promised to conduct sustained market monitoring to check on  business and industry compliance to the DENR’s CCO regulating lead and lead compounds.

In the meantime, the group advised consumers to only patronize properly labelled lead safe paints and products to minimize, if not totally prevent, childhood exposure to lead.




18 June 2014

EcoWaste Coalition Blasts Illegal Sale of Mercury-Laden Skin Cosmetics in Cebu City

Is Cebu City now the toxic whitening cosmetics capital of the Philippines?

The EcoWaste Coalition, a watchdog group against mercury in consumer products, raised the specter after finding imported, mercury-laden skin lightening creams without market authorization that are openly sold in the city.

“The open display and sale of these mercury-tainted skin cosmetics gives a clear indication that such dangerous products are sold with impunity in Cebu City,” observed Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“As the major commercial hub in Central Visayas, we fear that Cebu City may be unwittingly being dragged into such unlawful trade of mercury-laced cosmetics that can pose serious health risks to consumers and the environment,” he pointed out. 

In a report to Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, Councilors Nida Cabrera, Alvin Dizon and Lea Japson and Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) Director Kenneth Hartigan Go, the group expressed serious concern about the unchecked sale of unauthorized skin whitening cosmetics
that may expose uninformed consumers to dangerous levels of mercury, a highly toxic chemical.

The group urged the Cebu City Government, in collaboration with the Cebu City Council, the FDA and the police authorities, to take immediate action to stop the illegal sale of mercury-containing cosmetics in Cebu City, as well as other cosmetics and personal care products with no market authorization from the FDA.

In test buys conducted by the group on June 15 and 16, 2014, the group managed to procure 13 imported brands of skin whitening cosmetics from 999 General Merchandise (Colon St. cor. Osmeña Blvd.), 138 Mall (Colon St.), Yong Jiang General Pharmacy (Zamora St.) and Worldwide Pharmacy (Magallanes St.).

Out of these 13 products, 11 were found to contain elevated levels of mercury ranging from 3,218 parts per million (ppm) to 13,900 ppm, way above the ASEAN threshold limit of 1 ppm for mercury in cosmetics.  

A handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device was used to screen the products for mercury.   

Among the 11  products found contaminated with high levels of mercury were: , 1) Erna Whitening Cream,  2) Flower Woman 7-Day Whitening & Spot Day and Night Cream Set, 3) Huayuenong 12-Day Whitening & Speckle Removing Wrecking Set, 4 ) Jiaoli Huichusu Intensive Whitening, Sunscreen and Spots Removing Set,  5) Jiaoli Professional Herbs Essence Whitening AB Set, 6) Jiaoli Speckle Dispelling & Whitening Cream4), 7)  Mifton, 8)  S’Zitang (single jar), 9)  S’Zitang 7-Day Specific Whitening & Spot A B Set, 10) S’Zitang  Yang Bai Su, and 11) Women of Flower 7-Day Effective Speckle Removing Series.
The other two samples had no detectable levels of mercury based on the XRF screening, but made false product claims in violation of the Consumer Act of the Philippines and the Food and Drugs Administration Act.   According to their labels, Jiaoli Extra Pearl Facial Cream is “BFAD approved,” while Top-Gel Rose Oil Extra Pearl Cream is supposedly registered with “BFAD.”   BFAD (Bureau of Food and Drugs) is the old name of the FDA.

Like the 11 other products, the two items are not listed on the FDA database of notified cosmetics.   According to the FDA, “all cosmetic products that do not pass the FDA safety and quality evaluation do not comply with the requirements of the Code of Good Manufacturing Practice.”

Also, some of the products in question are already banned by the FDA for containing injurious amounts of mercury or for lack of required market notification.  These are 1) Erna Whitening Cream,  2) Flower Woman 7-Day Whitening & Spot Day and Night Set Cream, 3) Huayuenong 12-Day Whitening & Speckle Removing Wrecking Set, 4) Jiaoli Speckle Dispelling & Whitening Cream and  5) S’Zitang. 

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

“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 further said.




17 June 2014

Dangerous Water Color Sets Openly Sold in Cebu City

Some Cebu City retailers are still selling a locally-manufactured water color sets recently banned by the government for containing high levels of lead, a chemical poison that can harm the brain.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog group based in Quezon City, discovered the illegal trade after conducting test buys in 14 retail outlets in Cebu City last Sunday, June 15, 2014 and managing to procure the banned “Artex Fine Water Colors.”

“It’s unlawful to sell these lead-contaminated water colors.  We therefore ask Cebu retailers to remove them from store shelves and return to the manufacturer for environmentally-sound disposal,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“To ensure compliance, we request FDA’s field officers in the province to go store-hopping, confiscate the banned items and charge disobedient businessmen,” she added.

Lucero and the EcoWaste team were in town of late for the “Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project Workshop” held in Lapu-Lapu City (June 9-13) and the “Forum on Lead Paint Hazards and the Benefits of Lead Safe Procurement Policy” in Cebu City (June 16).

On May 29, 2014, the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) issued  Advisory No. 2014-044 recalling “Artex Fine Water Colors” after laboratory tests detected lead in excess of the maximum tolerable limit of 90 parts per million (ppm).

The FDA’s action was prompted by a complaint filed last April by the EcoWaste Coalition with the Department of Trade and Industry – Bureau of Trade Regulation and Consumer Protection.

In Cebu City, the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol managed to buy the banned water color sets for P40 to P64.95 at Best Buy Mart (Osmena Blvd. cor. P. Gullas St.),  La Nueva Supermart (Briones St.), La Nueva Supermart (Magallanes St) and Prince Hypermart (P. Burgos St.).

On the other hand, no “Artex Fine Water Colors” were found at Fooda Saversmart, Happy Mart, Kaking, King Long, Lucky 7 Supermart, Metro Department Store, National Book Store, Novo Asia Consumer, Unitop and Visayan Educational Supply.

The group had earlier reported  buying the banned school art material in 3 retail shops in Lapu-Lapu City last June 14 for P40 to P59.75, specifically at La Nueva Supermart (De la Cerna St.), Marnikko School and Office Supplies (Martir St.) and Society Store (Stall No. 10) of the Public Market.

Lead is strictly prohibited in the production of school supplies and toys under the “Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds” issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in December 2013.

According to “Childhood Lead Poisoning,” a publication of the World Health Organization (WHO),  “lead exposure has profound and permanent adverse health effects on children,” stressing that “there is no safe level of exposure to lead.”

Delayed mental and physical development, learning difficulties, decreased intelligence, shortened attention span, hearing loss, and behavioural problems are among the major effects of lead exposure.

“The  principal  organs  affected  are  the  central  and  peripheral nervous  system and  the  cardiovascular,  gastrointestinal,  renal, endocrine,  immune  and haematological systems,” the WHO said.

Last June 14, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago filed Proposed Senate Resolution 700 asking “the proper Senate committee to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation,” explaining that “Congress  and  other concerned  agencies  should  ensure  that  school  supplies tainted with  lead  and  other  hazardous  chemicals  do  not  reach  the local  market  through  more vigilant monitoring of commercial activities and  stringent testing of these products.”



16 June 2014

Cebu Forum Tackles Lead Paint Hazards, Thumbs Up Lead Safe Paints


Cebu City. By choosing lead safe paints, we prevent adding new sources of lead to the environments of our kids. Exposure to hazardous paint chips and dust can damage their brains, retard their development and put their future at risk.

This is the take home message from a citizens’ forum held at the Cebu City Hall that tackled the problems with paints containing lead, a toxic chemical that has been shown to harm a child’s developing brain and central nervous system even at low levels of exposure and these effects can have very serious consequences throughout their lives.

Sponsored by the Offices of Councilors Nida Cabrera and Alvin Dizon in cooperation with the  Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition and local civil society groups, the forum had visiting environmental health scientist Dr. Scott Clark, Professor Emeritus at the University of Cincinnati (USA) as one of the speakers.

Dr. Clark has for several years been assisting the EcoWaste Coalition and other environmental groups involved in the European Union-funded Asian Lead Paint Elimination Project in the Philippines and six other developing countries. Prof. Clark was in Cebu City in 2009 for a lead paint hazard awareness event.

The forum came on the heels of a resolution adopted by the Cebu City Council on June 11 requesting the city government to adopt and pursue a lead safe paint procurement policy.

“This event is in support of our stance as City Council to promote the health and well-being of our children who are vulnerable to environmental toxins such as lead in paint chips, dust and soil  by requiring ‘lead safe’ in government paint purchase orders,” stated Councilor Cabrera.

Although a Chemical Control Order (CCO) restricting lead in paints has recently been adopted in the Philippines, there are still actions that need to be taken to ensure that the benefits to children and others are actually achieved, she noted.

“By specifying that only lead safe paints should be carefully used for publicly-funded facilities, especially those frequented by small children such as playgrounds, schools and housing, the government is making a wise move to minimize future incidents of childhood lead exposure,” Dr. Clark said.

One of the most effective ways of ensuring that the CCO is enforced is for consumers to demand that the paints they purchase are in compliance, Dr. Clark pointed out.

“Such procurement practice can be most effective if instituted by large consumers of paints such as national government agencies, cities and municipalities, school systems, real estate developers and homeowners’ associations,” Dr. Clark suggested.

He added that such procurement process should require that the paint can label provides a warning of the hazards of lead dust, which may be created as surfaces are prepared for repainting.

Dr. Clark lamented that presently over 300,000 children in US are still over exposed to lead to the extent that public health interventions are needed despite the fact that unleaded paints have been banned for thirty-six years.

According to Dr. Clark, most of these exposures are from leaded paints used before 1978. Lead from these ’legacy paints’ have deteriorated over time creating hazardous lead levels in dust that are ingested by young children as a result of  normal hand to mouth activity.

“Many of these exposures occurred when dangerous amounts of lead dust were created as lead-painted surfaces were sanded and scraped to prepare the surfaces for re-painting with lead-safe paints,“ emphasized Dr. Clark, who has done extensive research on lead-based paint exposure assessments and hazard controlling environments where children are present.

“It’s absolutely prudent to curb further use of lead paints in the Philippines and to warn of lead dust hazards elsewhere and avoid damages to human health and very costly lead hazard control interventions in the future,” he said.

Some twenty-four million housing units in US still have significant lead-based paint hazards requiring interventions costing an average of $10,000 per housing unit, or a total of $240 billion, he pointed out.


15 June 2014

Are Kids' Plastic Dolls Safe from Harmful Chemicals? (Government Urged to Embark on Testing Blitz of Plastic Dolls as EU Recalled 165 Products)

The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, pondered on the safety of plastic dolls sold locally after discovering illegal level of synthetic chemicals known as phthalates in a locally-manufactured doll it procured from Divisoria, Manila.

Phthalates refer to a group of industrial chemicals that are often used as plasticizers, or softening agents, in vinyl plastic products, including toys.

Known to interfere with normal endocrine or hormone functions, infants and children can be exposed to phthalates through the mouthing of plastic toys.

“We could not help but ask if plastic dolls, especially those sold in discount stores, are safe from phthalates for our girls to play with,” queried Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“Countries in Europe have taken strong measures to prohibit the entry or sale of dolls laden with toxic phthalates.  From 2013 to date, 18 European countries banned 165 phthalate- softened dolls, and surprisingly not a single one has been banned in the Philippines,” he observed.

“This prompted us to buy and send one sample to the laboratory for analysis. We would have wanted to test more products, but the cost of analysis is too prohibitive at over P7,500 per sample,” he explained.

According to the laboratory analysis conducted by the SGS, a global testing company, the head of the baby doll on the “Little Ones Nap Time Doll Crib Set” had 16.70% of phthalate DEHP, way above the 0.1% limit.

As per product label, the doll crib set is made by New Anding’s Trading and Manufacturing (stock number 4023).  It is sold for P100 per set.

Last Tuesday, Undersecretary Victorio Mario Dimagiba of the Department of Trade and Industry endorsed the complaint lodged by the EcoWaste Coalition regarding the said doll to the Food and Drugs Administration for appropriate action.

The Department of Health Administrative Order 2009-0005-A as amended in 2011 provides that “it shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture for sale, offer for sale, distribute in commerce, or import into the country any children’s toys that contains concentrations  of more than 0.1 percent by weight of DEHP, DBP or BBP.”

The same A.O., signed by Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona, prohibits the sale of “any children’s toy that can be placed in a child’s mouth that contains concentrations of more than 0.1 % by weight of DINP, DIDP or DnOP.

Data gathered by the EcoWaste Coalition from the European Union’s Rapid Alert System for Non-Food Dangerous Products (RAPEX) showed that from 2013 to date Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and UK either rejected 165 doll imports at the border or withdrew them from the market for violating EU’s regulation on phthalates.

To prevent childhood exposure to phthalates, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to the industry to only offer dolls and other toys that meet the DOH regulation, and to duly label their products to assist consumers in making an informed choice.

To assure consumers of the safety of plastic dolls in the market, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the authorities to embark on a “testing blitz,” targeting affordable dolls sold in both formal and informal retail outlets.

In the meantime, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers, particularly parents, to utilize their purchasing power to induce the toy industry to shift to non-toxic materials by not patronizing toys made of PVC and others not duly labeled, tested and registered.



(type “consumer” in product type, “plastic doll” in free text search,
choose “2014, 2013” in year, select “serious” under risk type and type
“chemical” in risk)