Following police confirmation that oxalic acid caused the death of milk tea shop owner of William Abrigo and customer Suzaine Dagohoy last April 9, a toxics watchdog urged the Manila City government to prohibit the sale of the deadly substance on the street.
The EcoWaste Coalition has reported that oxalic powder is sold by street vendors at Ylaya St. in Divisoria for less than P100 per kilo.
“Oxalic acid, as far as we know, is allowed for industrial applications and should not be sold to unauthorized users and much more sold on the streets by ambulant vendors,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“The white Oxalic powdery substance looks similar to iodized salt or refined sugar that food preparers can use by mistake, especially if improperly stored,” he said.
Dizon recalled that in 2011 two pupils of Larion Bajo Elementary School in Tuguegarao City were killed and 44 others were hospitalized due to oxalic-related food poisoning.
As reported by the police and the media, kindergarten pupils Eloisa Ballad and Jessica May Bangayan died after eating “miki” noodles in the school canteen that was erroneously “salted” with oxalic powder by the teacher who prepared it.
Citing online material safety data sheet (MSDS) of oxalic acid, the EcoWaste Coalition said that the substance is very corrosive to the human body and may be fatal if inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through the skin.
“Inhalation of dust or mist may cause irritation or burns to upper respiratory system, nose, mouth or throat. Ingestion may cause irritation or burns to mouth throat or stomach. Contact with skin or eyes may cause irritation or burns,” the MSDS warns.
Water is added to oxalic powder to create the acid used for bleaching and for removing rusts and stains.
Reference: Oxalic acid MSDS: http://www.sciencestuff.com/msds/C2193.html