30 July 2014

Kerosene is Top Poison for Pinoy Kids (Public Advised Not to Put Kerosene in Beverage Containers)

Photo Courtesy of John Hopkins Public Health / Illustration by Kevin Ghiglione
An environmental watchdog promoting “Clean and Safe Homes for Zero Poisoning Incidents” has cautioned parents against storing kerosene in beverage containers and within reach of a curious child.

Kerosene, a fuel commonly used for lamps and stoves, can harm young children who wrongly drink it from unlabeled containers such as water and soft drink bottles, the EcoWaste Coalition said.
“Unsupervised kids who mistakenly drink kerosene placed in containers like water and soft drink bottles is the most common reason for poisoning emergencies involving young children,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Based on data supplied by the UP National Poison Management and Control Center (NPMCC), kerosene ranked first among the top 10 poison agents in 2013 for kids with 274 cases, followed by sodium hypochlorite (bleach) with 98 cases, and button batteries with 23 cases.

According to Dr. Carissa Deoquino, Head of the NPMCC, “there were 274  pediatric poisoning cases in 2013 involving the accidental ingestion of kerosene. Of the 190 out of 274 cases were 3 years old and below. Therefore, awareness on the toxicity of kerosene should be emphasized to parents or guardians of these children.”  

“If a child accidentally ingests kerosene, vomiting should not be induced.  Get medical help instead at the nearest health facility,” advised Dioquino.

According to the United Kingdom’s Health Protection Agency, “toxicity occurs if kerosene is inhaled while being ingested (aspiration),” warning that “acute exposure to kerosene may result in central nervous system effects including irritability, restlessness, ataxia, drowsiness, convulsions, coma and death.” 

To prevent incidents of accidental kerosene ingestion, as well as fire, at home, the EcoWaste Coalition has reminded parents to observe the following:

1.  Do not put kerosene in beverage or food containers.

2.  Keep kerosene out of reach of children.

3.  Properly label kerosene containers.

4.  Keep kerosene lamps and stoves in safe working order.

5. Do not leave kerosene lamps and stoves unattended.

To report any case of poisoning and to obtain advice, the public may call the NPMCC’s 24-hour Poison Information Service at 5241078 or 5548400 local 2311.

27 July 2014

Parents Advised to Use Bleach with Care to Prevent Children's Poisoning


The EcoWaste Coalition has drawn the attention of the public on the number 2 poison for Pinoy kids: sodium hypochlorite.

Popularly known as bleach or clorox, sodium hypochlorite is commonly used as bleaching agent or as a general disinfectant.

“Young children may wrongly think that sodium hypochlorite is a drinking water as it is generally sold in liquid form and appears like water,” noted Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“Parents should not transfer bleaching or disinfecting agents to beverage containers like mineral water bottles or soft drink bottles,” said Dr. Carissa Dioquino, Head of the UP National Poison Management and Control Center (NPMCC).
Based on in-patient cases and telephone referrals, sodium hypochlorite ranked second among the top 10 poison agents in 2013 for children and youth as documented by the NPMCC with 98 out of 745 cases (13%).  Kerosene poisoning ranked number 1 with 274 cases; button batteries ranked third with 23 cases.

"These agents should be stored in secure cabinets preferably outside the house.  When swallowed, these poisons cause burns in the mouth, esophagus and stomach.  They also cause harm to the skin and eyes when spilled in the face,” Dioquino added.

According to the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), “ingestion of hypochlorite solutions causes vomiting and corrosive injury to the gastrointestinal tract.”

“Exposure to gases released from hypochlorite may cause burning of the eyes, nose, and throat; cough as well as constriction and edema of the airway and lungs can occur,” it said.

“Children may be more vulnerable to corrosive agents than adults because of the smaller diameter of their airways. In addition, they may be exposed to higher levels than adults in the same location because of their short stature and the higher levels of chlorine found nearer to the ground,” the ATSDR explained.

"Sodium hypochlorite solutions can liberate dangerous amounts of chlorine or chloramine if mixed with acids or ammonia,” the ATSDR further said.

To prevent children’s exposure to sodium hypochlorite, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to:

1.  Keep bleaching agents or disinfecting solutions out of children’s reach.
2.  Store household cleaning agents in a cool place and away from acids and sunlight.

The EcoWaste Coalition also urged consumers to go for non-toxic alternatives for whitening clothes or killing germs like baking soda, vinegar and peroxide-based materials instead of those containing sodium hypochlorite.





EcoWaste Coalition Asks Government to Exterminate "Shrilling Chicken" Toy

A non-profit watchdog group tracking toxins in children’s products has asked the government to “exterminate” a popular plastic toy known as “Shrilling Chicken” for containing highly toxic chemicals.

The “Shrilling Chicken,” which is sold locally from P80-P100, is made of yellow and red polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic that makes a screaming sound when squeezed.

The EcoWaste Coalition’s call to wipe out the controversial “made in China” chicken toy after two European countries ordered their withdrawal from the market for posing serious chemical and environmental risks.

“The Czech and Swedish governments pulled out the cute but very dangerous chicken toy from store shelves to protect their children and the society at large from being exposed to possibly carcinogenic substances in this toy.  The Philippine government should waste no time and exterminate the ‘Shrilling Chicken,’ which has been in the local market since 2010,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Citing “Report 29” of European Union’s Rapid Alert System for Non-Food Dangerous Products (RAPEX) issued yesterday, Dizon pointed out that the Czech Republic banned “Shrilling Chicken” in July 2014.  Sweden banned the same in August 2013.

According to the Czech government, “the product poses a chemical risk because it contains 0.98% by weight of  phthalate DEHP,” in violation of the EU’s REACH Regulation prohibiting phthalates DEHP, DBP and BBP in all toys and childcare articles.

The Swedish government, on the other hand, said that “the product poses an environmental risk (chemical pollution) because the plastic in the chicken contains up to 10% short chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs),” in violation of the European Commission Regulation 519/2012 on persistent organic pollutants.

Both the Czech and the Swedish governments ordered the withdrawal of the product from the market as a compulsory measure to prevent chemical and environmental risks.

In addition to pressing the government to ban “Shrilling Chicken,” the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to toy vendors to stop selling their remaining stocks of the product and to return them to the Chinese manufacturer for proper disposal.

The group also called on parents who have already bought “Shrilling Chicken” to keep the product out of children’s reach or properly discard it as hazardous waste.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has categorized phthalate DEHP and SCCPs as  among the Group 2B agents or substances that are “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”



(type: “Shrilling Chicken” in “free text search” and choose “2014” and “2013” in “years)



25 July 2014

DA Asked to Test Rice for Toxic Arsenic

Photo Courtesy of Philippine Star/CHOTDA/FLICKR

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental and health watchdog, has urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to assure consumers that rice being sold in the market is safe from arsenic, a highly toxic cancer-causing chemical.
“To allay consumer concern over arsenic in rice, we urge the DA to sample polished rice being sold in the market to determine their arsenic content,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
“The sampling should cover locally grown rice, as well as rice imported from other countries,” he said.
“For transparency sake, we suggest that such sampling exercise should involve various food safety stakeholders,” he added.
“Being a rice-eating nation of 100 million people, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Food Security Chief Francis Pangilinan need to ensure that all Filipinos, especially the children and other vulnerable groups, have access to safe rice,” he emphasized.  
The group’s proposal for rice sampling came on the heels of a recent recommendation by the Codex Alimentarius Commission that arsenic in rice should not exceed 0.2 mg/kg to protect consumers from excessive exposure.
Codex is an international body established by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) that sets international food safety and quality standards.
According to Codex, arsenic is present in many foods due to absorption from the soil and water.
“Rice in particular can take up more arsenic than other foods and due to its high consumption can contribute significantly to arsenic exposure,” Codex said.
At its 37th Session held in Geneva, Switzerland from July 14-18, 2014, Codex adopted several food safety standards, including maximum allowable levels for inorganic arsenic in rice, fumonisins in maize and maize products and  lead in infant formula, as  well as maximum levels for food additives and maximum residue levels for pesticides.
Arsenic belongs to the WHO’s list of ten chemicals of major public health concern.
According to a WHO fact sheet, “arsenic is highly toxic in its inorganic form.”
“Contaminated water used for drinking, food preparation and irrigation of food crops poses the greatest threat to public health from arsenic,” the fact sheet warned.
“Long-term exposure to arsenic from drinking-water and food can cause cancer and skin lesions. It has also been associated with developmental effects, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity and diabetes,” the WHO said.

22 July 2014

EcoWaste Coalition Warns Families against Danger from Small Button Batteries

Some bad things come in small packages.
The EcoWaste Coalition hammered home this message as it reminded parents of the hazards of accidental ingestion of button batteries containing acids and heavy metals.
As part of its campaign to raise awareness on “Clean and Safe Homes for Zero Poisoning Incidents,” the group drew attention to the choking and ingestion hazards of button batteries that can cause chemical burns and put a child’s life in highest danger.
Data obtained by the EcoWaste Coalition from the UP National Poison Management and Control Center (NPMCC) indicate that button batteries is number three among the top 10 poison agents in 2013 in terms of in-patient referrals for the pediatric age group.
“Products run by button batteries may pose a choking and chemical risk to young children who can have access to these small things, put them in the mouth and ingest them,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
“Oftentimes, children push button batteries into their nostrils or swallow the batteries.  Prolonged contact with the mucus membranes in the nose or in the stomach may cause burns or ulcers.  If the battery is more than or equal to 1.5 cm in diameter, the battery can get lodged in some parts of the gastrointestinal tract of children less than 6 years of age and cause obstruction,”   Dr. Carissa Deoquino, Head of UP National Poison Management and Control Center (UPNPMCC), added.
“Parents should promptly bring kids to their physicians if these situations arise,” she emphasized.
Small, light weight, thin, shiny and coin-shaped, button batteries are often used in children’s talking books, games and toys,  flashing jewelry, hair accessories and shoes, hearing aids, musical greeting cards, pocket calculators, remote controls, wrist watches and other portable electronic devices.
Some mercury-containing batteries are targeted for phase out by 2020 under the Minamata Convention on Mercury that governments, including the Philippines, signed in October 2013, except for button zinc silver oxide and zinc air button batteries with less than 2% mercury content, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.
To reduce risk of swallowing button batteries that can cause internal injuries, the EcoWaste Coalition recommends the following five steps to prevent choking and ingestion hazards:
1.  Carefully read the product label and follow the safety instructions on battery use, storage and disposal.
 2.  Ensure that button batteries in children’s products and household items are duly secured with a screw.
3.  Keep button batteries in their original packaging and store them in a childproof container.
4.  Ensure  that button batteries, old or new, are kept out of children’s sight and reach.
5.  Do not allow children to handle and install button batteries and never let them play with them.
In addition, the group advised parents to properly dispose of spent batteries and not to simply throw them in regular trash nor toss them into a fire.
To report any case of poisoning and to obtain advice, the public may call the NPMCC’s 24-hour Poison Information Service at 5241078 or 5548400 local 2311.

20 July 2014

EcoWaste Coalition Thrilled to Find Lead Safe Wooden Toys in Manila Stores (25 of 25 Samples Contain No Toxic Lead)

Brightly colored wooden toys can be made without using lead-containing paints that can put a child’s rapidly developing brain at risk of permanent damage.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental and health watchdog tracking toxins in toys and children’s products, proved this point after screening 25 colorful wooden toys, mostly imported from China, and finding no toxic lead in all samples.

“Toys coated with lead paints are totally unsafe for kids to play with.  They can unknowingly ingest lead as they place their hands, toys and other objects contaminated with lead paint chips or dust in their mouth. We are therefore elated to find lead safe toys this time around,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“Our latest findings should push other toy manufacturers, especially local ones who are still using lead paints, to stop the perilous practice and comply with the law,” he emphasized.

The newly promulgated Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources strictly prohibits the use of lead in the production of toys.

The wooden toy samples, which include alphabet and number toys, animal, flower and shape jigsaw puzzles, pet animal figures, musical instruments, pull toys and other playthings, were fully or partially coated with vibrant colors such as yellow, red, orange, green, blue and other hues.

The samples, costing P16 to P449.75, were obtained from diverse retail outlets in Manila such as the National Book Store, Shopwise and SM Toy Kingdom Express in Harrison Plaza, Malate, Daiso Japan and Toys R Us in Robinsons Place, Ermita,  Booksale, Paco and Isetann Department Store, Quiapo, as well as in bargain stores in 168 and 999 Shopping Malls in Divisoria.  The items were procured from July 11 to 18, 2014.

The paint coatings of the wooden toys were found to contain no detectable level of lead based on the screening performed through a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.

Dizon recalled that their previous sampling of wooden toys showed despicable levels of lead on paint coatings in products that are marketed for children’s use.

For instance, six of the 11 wooden toys sent by the group to the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, USA for laboratory analysis in 2011 were found to contain excessive lead content, with a Cebu-made nautilus jigsaw puzzle registering lead up to 45,671 parts per million (ppm).

More recently, the group’s XRF screening of colorful toy ukuleles from Cebu and Lapu-Lapu Cities last June 2014 found lead in all 10 samples with the highest reading at 26,100 ppm.  In March 2014, 31 out of the 33 painted turumpo (wooden play tops) screened positive for lead up to 15,100 ppm.

Quoting a World Health Organization’s fact sheet, the EcoWaste Coalition said: “Young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead and can suffer profound and permanent adverse health effects, particularly affecting the development of the brain and nervous system.”

“At high levels of exposure, lead attacks the brain and central nervous system to cause coma, convulsions and even death. Children who survive severe lead poisoning may be left with mental retardation and behavioural disruption,” the WHO said.

“At lower levels of exposure that cause no obvious symptoms, and that previously were considered safe, lead is now known to produce a spectrum of injury across multiple body systems. In particular lead affects children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioural changes such as shortening of attention span and increased antisocial behaviour, and reduced educational attainment,” it further said.

“The neurological and behavioural effects of lead are believed to be irreversible,” the WHO warned.




19 July 2014

Toxics Watchdog Urges Consumers to be Wary of False Advertising Claims, Slams Sale of "Dirty Dozen" Mercury-Laden Skin Whitening Cosmetics

Twelve different brands of imported skin whitening creams found laden with toxic mercury, including nine already banned by the health authorities (above), and BG and Feique creams not yet banned by the government (below).

“The gentle formula keeps your skin soft like a child.”

The EcoWaste Coalition urged consumers to be on their guard against bogus advertising claims - such as the one above - after its latest test buys confirmed the continued sale of mercury-laden skin whitening cosmetics in Manila and Quezon Cities in brazen violation of the law.

“Consumers should be cautious of deceptive claims as some cosmetics that promise flawless and lighter skin tone contain undisclosed amounts of toxic mercury, which can damage the kidneys and the skin itself,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

As an example, the group cited two products within the “BG” line of skin lightening cosmetics supposedly from New York, USA, which contain “ten kinds of precious herbal medicines” and whose “gentle formula keeps your skin soft like a child.”

Sold for P120 each at Pan Pacific Chinese Drug Store in 999 Shopping Mall, Manila, the two “BG” creams,  which have no market authorization from the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), were found to contain up to 51,100 parts per million (ppm) of mercury.

Under the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive, the permissible limit for mercury in cosmetics is one ppm.

Inorganic mercury is added to such cosmetics to inhibit the production of melanin (the pigment that gives the skin its color) and bring about lighter skin complexion.

“Inorganic mercury, an unlisted ingredient, in these products can enter the body through the skin.  Repeated use will cause mercury levels in the body to soar as can be seen in the increased mercury levels in the urine,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Repeated application of mercury-laden skin creams could damage the kidneys and renal function,” she emphasized.

Citing an advisory from the World Health Organization (WHO), Lucero further warned that mercury in skin lightening products can also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.

“Instead of the coveted flawless and lighter skin, users of such creams may end up having ravaged skin with uneven pigmentation,” Lucero added.

“Moreover, innocent children can ingest the toxic metal by hugging or kissing adults who use these creams,” she further said.

In its latest toxic exposé, the EcoWaste Coalition reported detecting excessive levels of mercury in 12 products that the group purchased for P80 to P200 each, mostly from Chinese drug stores, last July 13 to 15, 2014.  The products were purportedly made in China, Japan, Taiwan and USA. 

Mercury was detected through the use of a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, a device that can screen toxic metals in consumer goods.

As per XRF screening, the following "dirty dozen" skin whitening products were found to violate the 1 ppm limit for mercury in cosmetics:

1. BG Sea Pearl and Papaya Natural Essence 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Sun Block Cream with 51,000 ppm.

2.  BG Ginseng and Ganoderma Lucidum 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Sun Block Cream with 46,800 ppm.

3.  Yudantang Ginseng and Green Cucumber 10 Days Whitening Speckles Removed Essence with 43,500 ppm.

4.  Feique Herbal Extract Whitening Anti-Freckle Set with 28,800 ppm.

5.  Erna Whitening Cream with 8,284 ppm.

6.  Yinni Green Tea Quickacting Whitener and Speckle Remover Package with 6,554 ppm.

7.  Jiaoli Miraculous Cream with 4,740 ppm.

8.  S’zitang with  4,565 ppm.

9.  Bai Li Tou Hong with 2,859 ppm.

10.  Jiaoli 7 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set with 2,184 ppm.

11.  Sanli Eliminating Freckle Cream with 1,305 ppm.

12.  Gakadi with 123 ppm.

The FDA has already banned nine of the above mercury-laced skin whitening creams except for BG and Feique creams.

According to WHO, mercury in soaps, creams and other cosmetic products is eventually discharged into wastewater and 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 warned.




18 July 2014

Skin Whitening Creams Banned in CA sold in PH (California Department of Health Issues Tagalog Fact Sheet to Warn Consumers against Mercury-Laden Skin Lightening Crems)

The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, today revealed two of the four skin whitening creams that health authorities in California, USA asked consumers not to use due to its mercury content are being sold in Metro Manila.
In fact sheets issued in Tagalog and other languages, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) warned consumers against using Jiaoli 7 Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, Jiaoli Miraculous Cream and two other mercury-containing skin lightening creams.
The July 2014 issue of the CDPH-published Occupational Health Watch highlighted the fact sheets in multiple languages such as Chinese, English, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese.
“These Jiaoli products are among the over 100 skin whitening cosmetics banned by our government for containing excessive levels of highly toxic mercury,” stated Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
Since 2010 to date, the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has banned 104 skin lightening cosmetics from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand and USA for containing mercury above the allowable limit of 1 part per million (ppm).
“The unscrupulous traders behind the continued sale of Jiaoli and other dangerous cosmetics are raking in profits at the expense of public health and the environment,” observed Lucero.
According to the CDPH, “Ang asoge ay nakakalason na kemikal. Natagpuan na ito sa mga pamahid sa mukha na ginagamit para pumuti ang balat, panggagamot ng tagihawat, at pagtatanggal ng pangingitim ng balat, peklat, o pekas.”  (“
Mercury is a toxic chemical. It has been found in face creams used to lighten or bleach skin, treat acne,and fade age spots, blemishes, or freckles.”)
“Maaaring maging mapanganib ang mga pamahid na naglalaman ng asoge para sa sinumang nakatira sa bahay kung saan ito ginagamit. Kumakalat ang asoge mula sa mga kamay ng sinumang gumagamit ng pamahid tungo sa ibang mga bagay na kanyang nahahawakan. Pagkatapos, mapupunta sa hangin ang asoge at maaari itong malanghap ng sinuman na nasa loob ng bahay,” the CDPH warned.  (“Creams that contain mercury can be dangerous for anyone living in the home where they are used. The mercury spreads from the hands of anyone using the cream to other things they touch. Mercury then gets into the air and anyone in the home can breathe it in.”)
CDPH identified the following as common signs of mercury poisoning: irritability, bad moods, or depression; nervousness or shyness; memory problems or difficulty concentrating; feeling very tired; tremors, shaking, or weakness; and tingling or numbness in hands, feet, or around the mouth.
Early this year, CDPH tested over 100 imported skin lightening creams and other products obtained from San Francisco Bay Area stores for mercury content.

17 July 2014

"Repair, Reuse, Recycle" Post-Glenda Disaster Debris - EcoWaste Coalition

(Photo Courtesy of Philippine Star by AP/Bullit Marquez)

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, today urged national and local authorities and the general public in areas battered by typhoon Glenda to “repair, reuse and recycle” post-disaster debris as much as possible.

“We know that it’s very tempting to just simply mix and dump
post-disaster trash at the sidewalk, street corner, vacant lot or river as if dumping will make trash disappear,” said Aileen Lucero,
Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Instead of recklessly dumping everything under the sun,
please segregate disaster discards and repair, reuse and recycle those things that can still be put to beneficial use,” she

Let us cut down on what we throw away to lessen the volume of trash requiring final disposal.  Ecological waste management, especially in time of disaster, will take the pressure off our dumpsites and landfills that are already bursting at the seams,”
she stated.

Tree leaves
and twigs and other vegetative debris, wood scraps, galvanized iron sheets and other building debris, flood-soaked
appliances, electronics, furniture and other household items, and
regular household trash such as food waste are among the typical
discards requiring environmentally-sound management following a typhoon

For example,
the trunks of big trees uprooted by strong winds brought by typhoon Glenda can be made into school chairs and tables and other functional items.

Other biodegradable discards such as fallen leaves, fruit and vegetable peels can be converted into an excellent soil enhancer via composting.

“Turning organic discards into compost is also an effective way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from dumpsites and landfills,” reminded

Lucero cited the Philippine Climate Change Assessment Report, which
states that garbage produced by the country is the third biggest
contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, with methane from dumpsites and landfills comprising the biggest part followed by nitrous oxide from wastewater.

The EcoWaste Coalition has time and again emphasized the importance of
zero waste resource management, stressing that the outmoded approach
of dumping or incinerating discards is a complete waste of resources.

“Waste dumping and incineration also leads to wider environmental
pollution that is contributing to climate change and causing harm to
the people's health and livelihood.


12 July 2014

Pinoy Drinkers Warned against Toxic Lead in Shot Glasses

Above: Shot glasses with lead on the glass designs.  Below: Shot glasses without lead on the glass designs.

Tagay, the popular alcohol drinking session among friends and neighbors, would be less fun if the shot glass that is being passed around had lead on it.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, made this important point after detecting high levels of lead on some shot glasses decorated with colorful images or designs.

“The shot glass is a key piece of the fraternal tagay where friends take turns drinking their favorite beer or liquor using a single glass,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“The bad news is most of the shot glasses we bought and screened for harmful chemicals were positive for lead, a brain damaging and endocrine disrupting chemical,” he said.

“The good news is we also found colorfully decorated shot glasses without traces of lead,” he added.

Out of the 15 shot glasses that the group bought from Manila and Quezon Cities for P6 to P94.75, 13 there found to contain lead up to 74,800 parts per million (ppm), way up the 90 ppm targeted permissible limit for lead in paints.

The other two shot glasses (one with handpainted drawing of a calesa and the other one a vinta) had no detectable lead, which clearly indicates the availability of lead safe alternatives.

The group used a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence device to screen the samples for toxic metals like antimony, arsenic, cadmium , chromium and lead.

“Drinkers should not only be mindful of the hygiene issue when it comes to sharing shot glass.  They also need to be wary of the lead on the painted design that could chip and get ingested by the person drinking from the glass.  There is no known amount of lead that will not cause harm to human health,” Dizon.

While young children are most susceptible to lead exposure, both adult men and women can be harmed as well since lead is toxic to many organs and can damage the nervous, cardiovascular, digestive, hematologic, renal and reproductive systems as confirmed by the World Health Organization and other public health bodies.

Examples of lead-induced health effects on adults include fatigue, impaired concentration, hearing loss, seizures, lead line on gingival tissue, miscarriage, reduced sperm count and motility, abnormal sperm, anemia, and hypertension.

As no safe threshold for lead exposure has been identified, it’s essential to curb all potential sources of lead pollution in the environment, including lead paints and products coated or decorated with lead paints such as coffee mugs, tea cups, drinking glasses and even shot glasses, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The group had earlier reported finding excessive levels of lead in 42 out of 50 samples of coffee mugs and tea cups, and 90 out of 100 samples of drinking glasses.  Lead was detected on the colorful designs of the samples.

Based on the screening conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition, the following shot glasses were found positive for lead:

1.  A shot glass with red and yellow flowers, P10,  74,800 ppm.
2.  A shot glass with Philippine flag and the word “Wow”, P69.75,  55,000 ppm
3.  A shot glass with a tricycle drawing, P40,  40,000 ppm
4.  A shot glass with a vinta drawing, P50,  38,400 ppm
5.  A shot glass with yellow and white flowers, P10,  38,200 ppm
6.  A shot glass with Philippine flag and the word “Mabuhay,” P40,  35,800 ppm
7.  A shot glass with the word Davao and fishes, P85,  31,300 ppm
8.  A shot glass with a jeepney drawing, P50,  31,200 ppm
9.  A shot glass with the word “Tsingtao,” P6,  30,800 ppm
10. A shot glass with the words “Double Happines,” P6,  25,400 ppm
11. A shot glass with green, orange and yellow flowers, P10,  25,000 ppm
12. A shot glass with the word Davao and pomeloes, P39,  16,900 ppm
13. A shot glass with the word Cebu and mangoes, P94.75,  3,068 ppm

The EcoWaste Coalition has insisted that all beverage and food containers should be safe from lead and other toxins to protect the public health and the environment.



09 July 2014

Outrageous Levels of Lead and Other Toxic Metals Found in Drinking Glasses

Above: Drinking glasses with low or non-detectable levels of lead.  Below: Drinking glasses with high levels of lead.
After detecting toxic lead in coffee mugs and tea cups, the EcoWaste Coalition found even higher levels of the infamous chemical poison in drinking glasses.

As a sequel to its latest investigation focusing on lead in beverage and food containers, the group on July 1 - 4, 2014 bought 100 pieces of decorated drinking glasses from 20 retail outlets in Caloocan, Makati, Manila, Parañaque, Pasay and Quezon Cities.

The drinking glasses, costing P6 to P30 each, were generally unlabelled and a handful with limited markings shows that the products were made in China and Indonesia.

Using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, the group screened the decorative enamel of the glass prints for lead, a poisonous chemical that can harm the brain and central nervous system and disrupt the normal function of the endocrine system.

“The outrageous levels of lead in the colorful prints outside of the glasses may rub on to the hands or get into the mouths of kids and adults using these glasses,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“While it will not make you ill at once, the chronic exposure to even low levels of lead over months or years of using tainted glasses should be a matter of concern to all,” he said, stressing that “no safe blood lead level has been determined.”

“As the human body has no need for lead, it’s important to curb all preventable sources of childhood as well as adult exposure to this poison such as everyday things like drinking glasses adorned with lead prints,” he emphasized.

“These tainted glasses can also pollute the surroundings with lead and other harmful chemicals once broken and discarded,” he added.

Out of 100 samples, 90 glasses were found to contain lead at concentrations greater than 90 parts per million (ppm), the targeted threshold limit for lead in decorative paints and other paints under the DENR’s Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds.

The lead levels found on the design surfaces of the 90 glasses range from 14,200 ppm to 81,300 ppm.  Of these 90 glasses, 83 had lead above 20,000 ppm.  Twenty-one of the glasses had over 40,000 ppm of lead or more.

The leaded glasses also contained elevated levels of antimony, arsenic, cadmium and chromium.
“We should point out that 10 samples had low or non-detectable lead, indicating that glasses can be embellished with lead safe paints,” Dizon said.

The group had earlier reported finding lead up to 31,000 parts per million (ppm) on the painted designs of 42 out of 50 samples of coffee cups and tea cups bought from various retailers.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead and can suffer profound and permanent adverse health effects, particularly affecting the development of the brain and nervous system.”

“Lead also causes long-term harm in adults, including increased risk of high blood pressure and kidney damage,” the WHO said.

“Exposure of pregnant women to high levels of lead can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight, as well as minor malformations,” the WHO warned.




06 July 2014

EcoWaste Coalition Questions Use of Lead Paint on Coffee Mugs and Tea Cups

Top Photo: Mugs with lead-designs.
Middle Photo: Mug with highest level of lead on the design.
Bottom Photo: Mugs without lead.

The right level of toxic lead in coffee mugs, tea cups and other products used for food and drinks is zero!

The toxics watchdog EcoWaste Coalition contended for zero lead in coffee mugs and tea cups after finding dreadful levels of the notorious brain toxin and endocrine disrupting chemical on paints used to decorate such common household products that people use every day.

“Our latest probe shows the pervasive use of lead paint in coffee mugs and tea cups being sold in the market, and points to the need for a precautionary policy that will ban its use on food and beverage containers based on total lead content,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“As a precaution against possible human exposure, lead, as well as other toxins, should not be present in all beverage and food containers,” he insisted.

“Banning lead on cups, mugs and other containers will be consistent with the government’s landmark regulatory policy on lead,” he added.

Last December, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued DENR Administrative Order 2013-24, also known as  the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, which explicitly prohibits the use of lead in the manufacturing of packaging for food and drinks.

The policy also establishes a threshold limit for lead in paints at 90 parts per million (ppm) and sets a phaseout period until 2016 for leaded decorative paints and 2019 for leaded industrial paints.

Out of 50 samples  that were subjected to chemical screening using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, 42 (84%) were found to contain lead from 3,244  ppm to 31,000 ppm.  Lead was specifically detected in the painted design on the exterior of the cup or mug.

Some of the lead-laced mugs were obviously cashing in on the unauthorized use of popular product logos such as “KFC,””M&M’s,”  “McDonald’s,” “Nescafe,” and “Nestea.”

On the other hand, 8 samples were found to contain no detectable levels of lead, including one with a elaborate design, indicating that cups and mugs can still have intricate designs and bright colors without using lead paints.

The samples, mostly unlabelled, were bought last week for P18 to P55/piece from discount stores and shopping malls in Divisoria, Quiapo and Sta. Cruz, Manila City, Monumento, Caloocan City, Baclaran, Pasay City and Cubao, Quezon City.

“Making it more worrisome,  tainted cups or mugs often contain a combo of lead, cadmium, chromium, antimony and arsenic at exceedingly high levels and no one really knows the effects of combined exposure to these chemicals on a person’s health,” he said.

For example, the “M&M’s” coffee mug had 31,000 ppm lead, 5,250 chromium, 3,872 ppm arsenic, 2,387 cadmium and 809 ppm antimony.
These substances can also contaminate the environment once the tainted cups or mugs are discarded and sent to the dumpsites or landfills, exacerbating the toxicity of garbage polluting the soil and the surface and ground water.

Citing information from the World Health Organization, the EcoWaste Coalition warned that  lead “is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems, including the neurologic, hematologic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and renal systems,“ stressing that lead is detrimental to human health even at very low levels of exposure. 

Chronic lead exposure among children has been shown to cause brain and nervous system damage, learning disabilities, lower IQ, attention deficit disorder, aggression and other behavioral issues and more.  Higher levels of exposure may lead to anemia, seizures, coma and death.

In adults, the key lead-induced health effects include fatigue, impaired concentration, wrist or foot drop, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, miscarriage, reduced sperm count and motility, hypertension and others.

The list of top 15 coffee mugs and tea cups with outrageous levels of lead include as screened by the EcoWaste Coalition includes:

1.  A coffee mug with “M&M’s” logo, P20, 29,600 ppm of lead
2.  A yellow coffee mug with a fun message, P25, with 29,800 ppm
3.  A big frosted glass coffee mug with floral design, P50, 19,900 ppm
4.  A coffee mug with “Fantastic Friend” message, P25, 19,700 ppm
5.  A red “Manchester United” coffee mug,  P29, 19,100 ppm
6.  A tall glass “Angry Birds” coffee mug, P35, 17,700 ppm
7.  A small coffee mug with black, blue and orange dots, P30, 16,900 ppm
8.  A coffee mug with black, gray and red flowers,  P55, 12,200 ppm
9.  A big tea cup with black and yellow flower design, P55, 10,600 ppm
10. A “Brown Cow Cocoa” coffee mug, P20, 10,500 ppm
11. A small coffee mug with blue, orange and yellow circles, P30, 9,914 ppm
12. A small tea cup with butterfly and flower motif, P19, 9,842 ppm
13. A “Yo Fido Dido” coffee mug, P25, 9,219 ppm  
14. A “Hello Kitty” coffee mug, P25, 8,985 ppm
15. A “Fido We are Here” coffee mug, P25, 8,653 ppm

In the meantime, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated its keen interest to continue helping the government in identifying other sources of lead pollution in the marketplace to protect the public health and the environment.