EcoWaste Coalition Reveals Illegal Sale of Unregistered Silver Jewelry Cleaners in Manila

An environmental watchdog has expressed serious concern over the unlawful sale of unregistered silver jewelry cleaning solutions in Manila that could be laced with cyanide, a highly toxic chemical.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an advocate for zero waste and toxics-free society, revealed that such illegal trade goes unabated despite official policy banning the sale of silver cleaning agents not registered with the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).

Under the Joint Department of Health – Department of Environment and Natural Resources Advisory 2010-001, unregistered silver cleaners containing cyanide and other harmful substances are a “threat to health and safety,” necessitating “the strict prohibition on their sale in the market.”

“Our latest market surveillance shows that some retailers continue to defy the law, raising the specter of cyanide poisoning either due to accidental or intentional exposure via ingestion or inhalation,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“Besides harming people, the disposal of cyanide-laced wastewater into the sink can pollute and damage the marine environment,” he added.

Test buys conducted by the group on Saturday, April 11, shows that silver jewelry cleaners with no market authorization from the FDA are being sold by some retailers in Divisoria and Quiapo for P45 to P60 per bottle.

“While most jewelry shops in Quiapo had stopped selling liquid silver cleaner in compliance with the government's directive, we managed to procure samples of China-imported 60 ml ‘Hallo Gold & Silver Cleaner’ at one popular accessories, beads and gifts store in Villalobos St., Quiapo,” Dizon said. 

“The said product had no information about its manufacturer, chemical composition and market registration with the FDA if any,” he pointed out.

“We also found a street vendor in Divisoria selling silver jewelry items with potentially toxic cleaners on the side,” he added.

In the interest of public health and environmental safety, the EcoWaste Coalition asked non-compliant retailers to voluntary desist from selling unauthorized silver jewelry cleaners.

It also requested consumers to shun unregistered silver jewelry cleaning agents and opt for safer cleaning products and techniques that will cause no harm to the public health and the environment.

It also suggested that concerned national and local agencies conduct periodic market monitoring and engage in joint law enforcement operations.

“Furthermore, we appeal to concerned individuals to present themselves to the authorities if they have any useful information that can help with the identification and prosecution of unscrupulous businessmen behind the illegal trade of toxic silver jewelry cleaners,” Dizon said.

"This dangerous trade has to stop once and for all for the health and safety of humans and the ecosystems,” he said.