29 September 2015

Toxics Watchdog Gives QC Council Two Thumbs Up for Passage of Two Environmental and Health Measures


The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental and health watchdog group, lauded the Quezon City Council for adopting two well-timed measures that will protect the public from hazardous products and wastes.

"We give the Quezon City Council two thumbs up for taking proactive  to prevent oxalic acid poisoning injuries and deaths, as well as prevent foreign garbage disposal in Payatas such as those that were illegally shipped to our ports from Canada," said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition's Project Protect.

On Monday, the Council approved on third and final reading City Ordinance 19CC-496 "prohibiting the sale of oxalic powder in all sari-sari stores and other establishments located within the territorial jurisdiction of Quezon City.”

Oxalic acid, a poisonous bleaching and cleaning agent sold in unlabeled repacked sachets, has been linked to the death of milk tea shop owner William Abrigo and customer Suzaine Dagohoy last April, as well as the death of Jose Maria and Juliet Escano last July.

Introduced by Councilor Dorothy Delarmente and co-introduced by 25 councilors, the ordinance sets a fine of P5,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 3 months to violators, as well as the cancellation of business permit if the violator is a business entity registered with the government of Quezon City.

The Council also confirmed on third and final reading Resolution 19CC-1131 "expressing strong disapproval against any plan to dispose of foreign waste at the Payatas landfill in QC."

The resolution, also introduced by Delarmente and co-introduced by 26 councilors, was a preemptive response to thwart the possible disposal of the illegal hazardous garbage shipments from Canada.

"The Quezon City Council finds the dumping of foreign waste into our country as  totally inexcusable and unacceptable and demands that such unethical and unlawful act be brought to a halt," the resolution stated.

The EcoWaste Coalition, which actively took part in related public hearings convened by the QC Council Committees on Environment and Health, had earlier commended the enactment of City Ordinance 19CC-311.

The said ordinance prohibits the sale of silver jewelry cleaners containing cyanide and other toxic substances in all silver jewelry shops, street and sidewalk vendors and other retailers operating within Quezon City.

-end-

Reference:

http://quezoncitycouncil.ph/agenda.php (see agenda for the 74th regular session on September 28, 2015)

27 September 2015

Toxics Watchdog Promotes CHR’s Human Rights Agenda on Chemical Safety

(Photo by Gigie Cruz)

A watchdog group for environmental health and justice has called upon the various sectors, particularly the government and the industry, to rally behind the move by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to uphold the people’s right to live in a toxic-free society. 

The EcoWaste Coalition issued the statement as hundreds of government, industry and civil society stakeholders gather in Geneva, Switzerland on September 28 to October 2 for the fourth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4) organized by the United Nations Environment Programme.

The group had collaborated and supported the CHR in crafting “The People’s Right to Chemical Safety: A Fifteen-Point Human Rights Agenda,” which the Commission then chaired by Loretta Ann Rosales issued in November 2014.

“As the national human rights institution, the CHR made the just decision to affirm the irrefutable right of every Filipino, including those yet to be born, to be protected against the risks and hazards caused by toxic chemicals,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“While the CHR will not be present at ICCM4, we hope that delegates will take cognizance of their commitment to chemical safety and reciprocate with bold global actions that will help eliminate the harms caused by toxic chemical exposure, especially to children, pregnant women, farmers, workers and other vulnerable groups,” he said.

The CHR stated that “we do not need another Bhopal or Fukushima tragedy to remind us of the adverse effects of (toxic) chemicals to life, health and the environment” as it pushed for “health-based and human rights-based policies on chemicals that will guarantee our people’s right to chemical safety.” 

Towards a toxic-free society, the CHR sought stakeholders’ support to translate the 2020 goal of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) into a national policy and plan of action.

The SAICM 2020 goal refers to “the achievement of the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle so that, by 2020, chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts to human health and the environment.”

In adopting the 15-point human rights agenda for chemical safety, the CHR cited the paramount importance of applying the principles of precaution, pollution prevention, public participation, polluter pays, sustainable development, environmental justice and other key elements of chemical safety such as green design, toxic use reduction and substitution, “no data, no market,” and freedom of information. 

In response, the EcoWaste Coalition confirmed its commitment to popularize the CHR’s human rights agenda for chemical safety, which include “zero waste resource management,” by developing a robust program to promote and support it.

“With the current administration about to end next year, we plan to initiate a process that will develop a chemical safety platform for our new leaders to take on, building on our campaign gains and the CHR’s human rights agenda,” Dizon said.

Among the measures being espoused by CHR to promote chemical safety include the compulsory labeling of chemical ingredients in products, the implementation of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), the establishment of mandatory and publicly accessible Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) and the phase-out of lead in paints.

The CHR also called on national and local authorities "to actively promote zero waste resource management and reject polluting technologies such as incinerators and its variants that burn resources, undermine recycling and recycling jobs, and contaminate communities with health-damaging pollutants.

-end-


Reference:



24 September 2015

Mayor Erap Urged to Enforce Manila City Ordinance 8178 Banning Cyanide-Containing Silver Jewelry Cleaner

A toxics watchdog today appealed to Mayor Joseph Estrada to enforce a 2008 city ordinance prohibiting the sale of deadly cyanide-laced silver jewelry cleaner in Manila.

The EcoWaste Coalition issued the appeal in response to the latest case of silver jewelry poisoning that killed 16-year old Alfred G. Cardeño, a B.S. Education freshman at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM).
Through a letter sent to his office today, the EcoWaste Coalition reported the heartbreaking death of Cardeño, a resident of 1263 Tambunting St., Barangay 373, Zone 38, Sta. Cruz, Manila, after drinking toxic silver jewelry cleaner last September 22 at the toilet of the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Tayuman St.

The poisonous silver cleaner was reportedly obtained from Divisoria according to Cardeño’s  mother Maria Theresa whom the EcoWaste Coalition met this morning.

Cardeño, a full scholar at PLM, graduated with honors at the Lakandula High School and was a former scholar of Caritas de Manila, according to his mother.  He just turned 16 last 15 September 2015.

“His death has reminded us of the tragic death of another young Manileña, Kristel Tejada, due to the fatal ingestion of silver cleaner in 2013 at her home in Tondo,” Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect, told Estrada.  

Tejada, like Cardeño, was 16 years old at the time of her death and a freshman student at the University of the Philippines-Manila.

“These tragic deaths could have been avoided if Manila City Ordinance 8178 enacted in 2008 is duly enforced,” Dizon said. 

The said ordinance bans the retail sale of all metal and jewelry cleaners containing cyanide and penalizes such act.  According to the ordinance, “all firms, traders, retailers and similar establishments are prohibited to sell in retail, produce, manufacture, repack and buy metal and jewelry cleaning materials containing cyanide.”

In view of this latest poisoning incident, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to Estrada to cause the faithful implementation Ordinance 8178 in the entire City of Manila to stop the unlawful sale of highly toxic silver cleaners that have claimed the lives of Cardeño, Tejada and many others.

“Your swift action will help save lives,” Dizon told Estrada.  

“We request your office to please instruct the Manila Health Department to conduct all-out law enforcement operations, with the support of the local police, in major commercial hubs like Divisoria and Quiapo to stop the said illegal trade,” he added. 

While the  city's health and sanitation officers conduct sustained law enforcement operations, the EcoWaste Coalition also urged the City Council to seek an urgent amendment to the penalty clause of Ordinance 8178.

The ordinance currently imposes a fine of only P5,000 or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both, to violators.  

“The threat of a stiffer fine and a longer jail sentence, we believe, will discourage unscrupulous businesses and individuals from engaging in such deadly trade,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

-end-



22 September 2015

EcoWaste Coalition Finds Some E-Gadget Accessories Toxic


Some colorful earphone cases and cord holders being sold in Divisoria may not be suitable for kids due to their high lead content.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a chemical safety advocate, urged consumers to exercise caution when buying accessories for e-gadgets that are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic or with PVC adornments.

The group on Sunday bought five types of cute round earphone cases with zipper and found the embossed PVC cartoon characters on four of these cases laden with high levels of lead ranging from 732 to 1,469 parts per million (ppm). The earphone cases were procured from a sidewalk vendor in Juan Luna St. for P50 each.

The group also detected lead between 631 to 2,062 ppm in all five cord holders made of PVC with Disney cartoons and super heroes.  The cord holders were obtained from a discount store at 168 Shopping Mall.

The group used a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence device to screen the products for toxic metals.

“These products should carry warning labels for containing toxic lead,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“Curious kids may play with these attractive e-gadget accessories as if these were toys and innocently put these in their mouths, exposing them to lead, a chemical poison,” he warned.

Lead can harm the brain and the central nervous system and damage other body organs, with children under six most at risk.  The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed lead as one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern.”

Some of the consequences  of   brain  injury  from  exposure  to  lead  in  early  life, according to the WHO, are loss  of   intelligence,  shortening  of   attention  span  and  behavioural problems.  

The EcoWaste Coalition also warned that PVC plastic accessories may contain other chemical ingredients such as phthalates that can get into a child’s body by biting or chewing on it. 

To prevent exposure to lead and other chemical poisons in PVC, the group urged consumers to avoid plastic products bearing the number “3” or the letters “PVC” or the word “vinyl.”

To encourage manufacturers’ compliance to the government’s Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, which prohibits the use of lead in the production of school supplies and toys, the group advised safety-conscious consumers to go for duly-labeled and registered non-toxic children's products. 

The EcoWaste Coalition also advised the public to dispose of unwanted PVC products with caution.  

Burning PVC plastic waste will cause the release of extremely harmful by-product pollutants such as dioxins and furans, which belong to some of the most toxic chemicals known to science, the group warned.

-end-   

Reference:


21 September 2015

Groups Reach Out to Malacañang to Expedite Ratification of “Basel Ban Amendment”

Leaders of Ang NARS Party-List and the EcoWaste Coalition on Monday went to Malacañang to obtain support for the ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment.

The Basel Ban Amendment is a revision to the Basel Convention, a global environmental treaty, that seeks to prohibit exports of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries for final disposal, reuse, recycling and recovery.

In their dialogue with the Office of the Executive Secretary represented by Usec. Ronald Geron, Ang NARS Party-List Rep. Leah Paquiz and EcoWaste Coalition’s Coordinator Aileen Lucero requested Malacañang to work for the expeditious ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment during the remaining days of the Aquino administration.

“While the Philippines ratified the Basel Convention in 1993, our country has yet to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment that is meant to fix the recycling loophole in the treaty.  By ratifying it, we protect our country from turning into a convenient dumping ground for hazardous wastes and other wastes masquerading as recyclables,” said Paquiz. 

“Our current laws are not strong enough to shield us from hazardous waste traders overseas in search for cheap disposal options in developing countries like ours.  The Canadian dumping scandal serves as a stark reminder of the insufficiency of our laws and the need for a stronger defence against the smuggling of wastes and toxics that could be better managed in exporting countries,” said Lucero.

Ang NARS Party-List and the EcoWaste Coalition told Usec. Geron that the ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment could form part of the Aquino presidency’s “environmental justice” legacy benefitting generations of Filipinos.

The groups noted that veteran lawmaker Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago has time and again expressed her support for the ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment “to protect the country from becoming a global dump for hazardous wastes.”

Santiago during the 15th and 16th Congresses filed resolutions calling for the investigation of hazardous waste imports from New Zealand and Canada, respectively, and the ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment.

According to the country fact sheet submitted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to the Basel Convention Secretariat, the Philippines has not ratified the amendment because “it has economic impacts to local industry depending on using secondary material classified as hazardous waste under the Convention.”

The groups, unconvinced with the supposed economic disadvantage of ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment, noted the need to gather, disclose and analyze the country’s hazardous waste imports data and how such imports are used or disposed of.

The groups also cited the importance of quantifying the health, environmental and social costs of such trade in hazardous wastes and comparing these with the alleged economic benefits.

To date, 82 governments have so far ratified the Basel Ban Amendment, including Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia in Southeast Asia, as well as China.

-end- 

20 September 2015

Local Groups Back Global Alliance to Phase-out Highly Hazardous Pesticides


Public interest groups threw their weight behind a proposal to establish a Global Alliance to Phase-out Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) at the forthcoming meeting of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4) in Geneva, Switzerland on September 28 to October 2.

Through an appeal sent to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, 25 groups endorsed the letter by the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) asking the Government of the Philippines to support the proposal to set up the Global Alliance towards a progressive ban of HHPs and their substitution with ecosystem-based alternatives

In December 2014, the entire African region at the Open-Ended Working Group of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) called for a Global Alliance to Phase-out HHPs that was widely supported and resulted in an agreement to develop a proposal for such an approach for ICCM4.

The Joint Meeting on Pesticide Management by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) had earlier noted that risk reduction from HHPs could include a progressive ban of these compounds.

According to the FAO website, “a considerable proportion of the pesticides still being used in the world can be considered highly hazardous, because they have a high acute toxicity, have known chronic toxic effects even at very low exposure levels, or are very persistent in the environment or in organisms, for example.”

FAO, WHO and the United Nations Environment Programme have set out some reasons for taking action on HHPs, including the link between exposure to HHPs and the rising incidence of cancer and developmental disorders and the adverse effects on children who are especially vulnerable to pesticides during critical periods of development. The UN agencies also cited the costs to society of these impacts and noted that lack of capacity limits the ability of many developing countries to adequately manage risks from pesticides.

Joining PAN and IPEN in pushing for the establishment of the Global Alliance at ICCM4 were the Action for Nurturing Children and Environment, Arugaan, Alyansa Tigil Mina, Bangon Kalikasan Movement, Cavite Green Coalition, Citizens Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, Consumer Rights for Safe Food, Ecological Society of the Philippines, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and Go Organic Davao City,

Also backing the initiative were the Green Convergence, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Interface Development Interventions, Kinaiyahan Foundation, Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng mga Maralita ng Lungsod-Cebu, Ligdung Sumbanan Alang sa Kabataan sa Sugbo, Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying, MESA, Miriam P.E.A.C.E., Mother Earth Foundation, November 17 Movement, Philippines for Natural Farming, Inc., Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society, Inc., and the Zero Waste Philippines.

The Global Alliance to Phase-out HHPs could learn from the success of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint established at ICCM2 in 2009 “to help achieve international goals to prevent children’s exposure to lead paint and to minimize occupational exposures to lead paint,” the groups said.

The proposed Global Alliance to Phase-out HHPs could have the following objectives:


(a)  To raise the awareness of government authorities and regulators, farmers and rural communities, private industry, consumers, workers, trade unions and health-care providers about the harms of HHPs and the availability of safer alternatives;


(b) To catalyze the design and implementation of appropriate prevention-based programs to phase-out HHPs, replace them with non-chemical alternatives, agro-ecological and other ecosystem-based approaches to sustainable food and fiber production, and public health vector control, as a priority.


(c) To provide assistance to farmers to enable them to phase out HHPs while maintaining their agricultural livelihood;


(d)  To provide assistance to health professionals on identifying and reporting pesticide poisonings to promote efficient surveillance and identification of HHPs;


(e) To provide assistance to government authorities with identifying appropriate alternatives, particularly for public health vector control;


(f) To promote the establishment of appropriate national regulatory frameworks to stop the manufacture, import, sale and use of HHPs, as well as the sound disposal of HHPs; and


(g) To provide guidance and promote assistance to identify, avoid and reduce exposure to HHPs including for communities near areas of cultivation and urban areas.

-end-

Reference:

http://www.saicm.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=525&Itemid=700

17 September 2015

Global and Local NGOs Back the Establishment of Global Alliance to Phase-out Highly Hazardous Pesticides at ICCM4

17 September 2015

Hon. Jonas Leones
Undersecretary for Environment and International Environmental  Affairs

Hon. Juan Miguel Cuna
Assistant Secretary/Director, DENR-EMB

Hon. Norlito R. Gicana
Executive Director, Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority

Hon. Aida V. Ordas
Chief, FPA Pesticide Regulation Division

Dear Colleagues,


We are writing to ask for your support to establish a Global Alliance to Phase-out Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) at the upcoming ICCM4 meeting in Geneva.[1] [2] [3] We believe such an Alliance, building on lessons learnt by the successful SAICM Global Alliance for the Elimination of Lead in Paint, is vital for assisting countries to adequately deal with HHPs and their replacement in a manner that supports the livelihoods of farmers.
 
 
In the meeting document4/8 “Proposal on highly hazardous pesticides”, FAO, UNEP, and WHO set out some reasons for taking action on HHPs.[4] They make the link between exposure to HHPs and the rising incidence of cancer and developmental disorders. The agencies express particular concern about the impacts on children who are especially vulnerable to pesticides during critical periods of development. Finally, FAO/UNEP/WHO point out the costs to society of these impacts and note that lack of capacity limits the ability of many developing countries to adequately manage risks from pesticides.
 
 
At ICCM2, concerns about lead poisoning in developing and transition countries led to the formation of a Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paint coordinated by UNEP and WHO.[5] This Alliance has accomplished tangible progress where none existed before with minimal secretariat burden on the UN agencies. We believe that similar advances should be made with HHPs. More information on this topic is available in our INF document, SAICM/ICCM.4/INF/29. In addition, some possible objectives of a Global Alliance to Phase-out HHPs are shown below. A proposed Terms of Reference for the Alliance will be an INF document and it is attached to facilitate accessibility.  
 
 
Just prior to ICCM4, the global community will adopt 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). “Promote sustainable agriculture” is part of Goal 2 and includes a target to “ensure sustainable food production systems…that help maintain ecosystems.” The phase-out of HHPs is intimately linked to achieving this goal. Agroecology is regarded as the basis of sustainable agriculture but countries need assistance and cooperative work to implement it.
 
 
The reality in many developing and transition countries is that ordinary conditions of pesticide use are often a source of significant harm to farmer and ecosystem health. HHPs are not addressed in a comprehensive way in any international cooperative agreement. More than 1000 civil society and public interest NGOs from 100 countries strongly support the 2006 FAO Council call for a progressive ban on HHPs and call for their substitution with ecosystem-based alternatives. Now is the time to take action.


Thank you very much for your consideration.



Javier Souza
Chair, Pesticides Action Network International

Olga Speranskaya
Co-Chair, IPEN

Manny C. Calonzo
Co-Chair, IPEN


Endorsed by the following public interest groups from the Philippines:

Fr. Max Abalos, Action for Nurturing Children and Environment
Ines Fernandez, Arugaan
Jaybee Garganera, Alyansa Tigil Mina
Joey Papa, Bangon Kalikasan Movement
Ochie Tolentino, Cavite Green Coalition
Esther Pacheco, Citizens Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability
Grace Chua, Consumer Rights for Safe Food
Antonio Claparols, Ecological Society of the Philippines

Aileen Lucero, EcoWaste Coalition
Paeng Lopez, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
Dr. Angelina Galang, Green Convergence
Amalie Conchelle Hamoy-Obusan, Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Ann Fuertes, Interface Development Interventions
Betty Cabazares, Kinaiyahan Foundation
Haidee Amagable, Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng mga Maralita ng Lungsod (KPML-Cebu)
Victor Sumampong, Ligdung Sumbanan Alang sa Kabataan sa Sugbo (LISU-Cebu).
Sonia Mendoza, Mother Earth Foundation
Com. Romy Hidalgo, November 17 Movement
Noemi Tirona, Philippines for Natural Farming, Inc.
Bro. Martin Francisco,
Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society, Inc.
Irma Percela, Zero Waste Philippines
Go Organic Davao City
Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying

Additional Information:

The Global Alliance to Phase-out HHPs could have the following objectives:

(a)       To raise the awareness of government authorities and regulators, farmers and rural communities, private industry, consumers, workers, trade unions and health-care providers about the harms of highly hazardous pesticides and the availability of safer alternatives;
(b)       To catalyse the design and implementation of appropriate prevention-based programmes to phase-out highly hazardous pesticides, replace them with nonchemical alternatives, agroecological and other ecosystem-based approaches to sustainable food and fibre production, and public health vector control, as a priority. When processes for phasing-out highly hazardous pesticides are put in place arrangements must be made to ensure a fair and safe transition that protects workers’ health and employment;
(c)        To provide assistance to farmers to enable them to phase out highly hazardous pesticides while maintaining their agricultural livelihood;
(d)       To provide assistance to health professionals on identifying and reporting pesticide poisonings to promote efficient surveillance and identification of highly hazardous pesticides;
(e)       To provide assistance to government authorities with identifying appropriate alternatives, particularly for public health vector control;
(f)        To promote the establishment of appropriate national regulatory frameworks to stop the manufacture, import, sale and use of highly hazardous pesticides, as well as the sound disposal of highly hazardous pesticides;
(g)       To provide guidance and promote assistance to identify, avoid and reduce exposure to highly hazardous pesticides including for communities near areas of cultivation and urban areas.




[1] At ICCM3 more than 65 countries and organisations submitted a resolution that included “a progressive ban on HHPs and their substitution with safer alternatives”. This reflected the FAO Council’s recommendation in 2006 of a “progressive ban on highly hazardous pesticides”.
[2] In December 2014, at SAICM’s Open-Ended Working Group the entire African region called for a Global Alliance to Phase out HHPs. This call was widely supported and resulted in an agreement to develop a proposal for such an approach for ICCM4.
[3] Three of the intercessional regional SAICM meetings held since ICCM3, involving more than 140 countries, reiterated concern about HHPs and called for more information on ecosystem-based approaches to pest management as alternatives to HHPs.
[4] Meeting documents in all UN languages are located here: http://www.saicm.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=525&Itemid=700

15 September 2015

Toxics Watchdog Pushes Tests of E-Cigarettes and Other “Vaping” Products for Cancer-Causing Chemicals


http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/830448

The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, urged health authorities to test e-cigarette products for cancer-causing acetaldehyde and formaldehyde.

The group issued the clarion call after a widely-publicized US report showed that the majority of the 97 e-cigarette products tested simulating actual use had generated high levels of acetaldehyde and formaldehyde in violation of California safety standards.

The Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health (CEH), which published the report “A Smoking Gun: Cancer Causing Chemicals in E-Cigarettes,”  found formaldehyde exposures up to 473 times and acetaldehyde exposures up to 254 times the California’s safety levels, exposing users to significant amounts of these cancer-causing gases.

Aside from being carcinogenic, exposure to these chemicals may also cause birth defects, genetic damage and reduced infertility, according to the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

“Our health authorities should seriously look at this pioneering study given the growing popularity of supposedly ‘harmless’ e-cigarettes among Filipino adults and teens and issue another health warning,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“We further urge the FDA to consider testing e-cigarettes and other ‘vaping’ products that are being sold in shopping malls, specialty stores and even in the streets and generate data that can be used to inform the public and reinforce the government’s anti-tobacco campaign,” she added.

For her part, Dr. Maricar Limpin, Executive Director of the Framework Convention Tobacco Control Alliance-Philippines (FCAP), reiterated the need for e-cigarettes to be regulated.

“E-cigarettes contain nicotine, industrial solvents and other chemicals of concern that are detrimental to human health and should be regulated. There is a pressing need for e-cigarettes to be regulated and their health and safety claims fully examined,” she said..


The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) had earlier warned in 2013 that “secondary exposure to e-cigarette emission might be harmful to health,” advising “the public, especially the youth sector, not to start smoking at all and to stop using cigarettes, cigars, or e-cigarettes.”

According to the FDA, “the e-cigarette is contrary to the intent and provisions of Republic Act No. 9211, otherwise known as the Tobacco Regulation Act of 2003,” which aims “to protect the youth from nicotine addiction and chronic respiratory diseases, including cancer, brought about by inhalation of thousands of highly toxic substances found in tobacco and cigarettes.”

“Wittingly or unwittingly, the e-cigarette promotes smoking among children and the youth,” the FDA observed, “mak(ing) them less fearful of hazards and risks of smoking.”

-end-


Reference:

14 September 2015

Chinese Drug Stores in QC Found Selling Banned Mercury-Containing Skin Whitening Creams




A toxics watchdog group urged the Quezon City Health Department to go after Chinese drug stores operating in the city that are selling contraband products such as skin whitening cosmetics laden with mercury.

As part of the group’s ongoing drive against mercury pollution, the EcoWaste Coalition on Sunday conducted yet another test-buy to determine if retailers are abiding by the Food and Drug Administration’s advisories outlawing the sale of skin whitening cosmetics with mercury exceeding the allowable limit of one part per million (ppm) under the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive. 

The group managed to buy China-made S’Zitang and Taiwan-made Yudantang creams from P100 – P170 each at the Mandarin Chinese Drug Center in Farmers’ Market, Cubao; Manjion Drug Store in Commonwealth Market; and Xing Guang Chinese Drug Store in Frisco, Quezon City.  

Mandarin and Manjion provided official receipts for the purchases made, while Xin Guang only gave a piece of paper with name of the product and its price written on it.  

Chemical screening using an X-Ray Fluorescence device revealed that the products had mercury ranging from 2,429 to 51,200 ppm, way above the allowable limit of 1 ppm.

“Mercury-containing skin lightening cosmetics are hazardous to health and should not be produced, sold and used,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Repeated use of such cosmetics could lead to chronic exposure to mercury that can seriously damage the kidneys, nervous system and the skin itself as manifested by dermal discoloration, rashes and scars,” she said.

Lucero added that mercury-laden skin lightening creams are also dangerous for non-users, particularly for young children, who can breathe in the mercury vapors from such products and ingest mercury when they hug or kiss others who have used such creams or touch tainted beddings and clothes.

Symptoms of mercury poisoning may include change in the ability to taste, difficulty to concentrate, excessive shyness, weakened hearing and vision, insomnia, irritability, memory problems, numbness and tingling in hands, feet or around mouth, and tremors.

Citing FDA-issued advisories, Lucero said that the government since 2010 has banned some 135 skin whitening cosmetics, including several variants of S’zitang and Yudantang facial creams. 

To stop the illegal trade of mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics, the EcoWaste Coalition urged Dr. Verdades Linga, Quezon City Health Officer, to seek the cancellation of the business permits of the erring Chinese drug stores.

“We urge the Quezon City Health Office to initiate legal actions against these non-compliant retailers to protect human health and help reduce mercury contamination of the environment,” Lucero said. 

-end-



Reference:

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

12 September 2015

EcoWaste Coalition Calls for Strict Enforcement of R.A. 9003 and R.A. 9275 to Avert Flooding

An environmental watchdog called for the stringent implementation of two major environmental laws to prevent chronic flashfloods in Metro Manila’s streets.

“We call on all local government units to ensure that R.A. 9003 and R.A. 9275 are faithfully enforced in their areas of jurisdiction to minimize floods aggravated by clogged canals and creeks,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.

R.A. 9003 (the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act) prohibits littering, open dumping and other acts that pose harm to health and sanitation, while R.A. 9275 (the Clean Water Act) prohibits the discharging of materials that could cause water pollution or impede the natural flow in the water body.

“We likewise appeal to all households and business establishments to stop indiscriminate garbage disposal knowing that what we carelessly dispose of will come back to haunt our families and communities.  As the saying goes: 'basurang tinapon mo, babalik sa iyo',” Lucero said.

“Recklessly thrown discards from the tiny but toxic cigarette filters to the ubiquitous plastic bags and Styrofoam containers can block water channels and cause flashfloods,” she said.

“Local authorities should deploy environmental police to catch and charge offenders,” she suggested.

Under R.A. 9003, litterbugs can be fined from P300 to P1,00, compelled to undertake community service or be required to pay the fine as well as render community service, while violators of R.A. 9275 can be fined not less than P10,000 to not more P200,000 for every day of violation.

Lucero noted that plastic-based waste materials indiscriminately-thrown in storm drains and esteros end up polluting the Manila Bay.  

She cited last year’s waste audit conducted by EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, and Mother Earth Foundation in the Manila Bay that showed plastic wastes topping the bay’s flotsam at 61.9%.

Discards surveys conducted by the same groups in 2010  and 2006  found 75 to 76% of the trash floating on Manila Bay as comprised mainly of plastic wastes, mostly plastic bags and polystyrene products. 

The EcoWaste Coalition also asked the Department of Public Works and Highways to prosecute erring contractors that have unduly delayed drainage and road projects, aggravating the flood as well as traffic situation in the metropolis.


-end-

Reference:


09 September 2015

Groups Troop to the Senate to Press for Ban on Foreign Waste Dumping, Re-Export of Canada Garbage

 
 
 
Civil society groups staged a peaceful assembly outside the Senate to demand for robust measures that will prevent the illegal entry of garbage from overseas in the country’s ports.

With “Pilipinas Hindi Tambakan at Sunugan ng Basura” as their rallying cry, over 100 members of the EcoWaste Coalition, Piglas Kababaihan, Public Services Independent Labor Confederation (PSLINK), Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO), as well as Ang NARS Party List, brandished placards, beat the drums and blew the whistles to call attention to their plea for justice.

The event coincided with the Senate hearing in response to the resolutions filed by Senators Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay, J.V. Ejercito, Loren Legarda, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and Miriam Defensor Santiago to investigate, in aid of legislation, the still unresolved Canada garbage scandal involving 103 container vans that were unlawfully shipped to the Philippines.

The illegal garbage imports must be shipped back for environmentally sound disposal in Canada in line with Article 9 on “Illegal Traffic” of the” Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and Their Disposal,” which also covers “wastes collected from households” like those that were sent to the Philippines under the guise of “recycling,” the groups asserted.

The groups demanded that Canada should act responsibly and comply with the treaty’s requirement that “in case of transboundary movement of hazardous wastes or other wastes deemed to be illegal traffic as the result of conduct on the part of the exporter or generator, the State of export shall ensure that the wastes in question are taken back by the exporter or generator, or, if necessary, by itself into the State of export” as stated in the Basel Convention.

The groups further insisted that the Senate should expedite the passage of legal measures that will proactively prevent foreign waste dumping such as the ratification of the “Basel Ban Amendment,” which prohibits highly industrialized countries from exporting hazardous wastes to developing countries “for final disposal, reuse, recycling and recovery.”

“The ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment will send a strong message to the international community, including private waste traders, that our government does not accept and tolerate hazardous waste dumping and will prosecute offenders to the full extent of the law,” said Ang NARS Party List Rep. Leah Paquiz.

For her part, Annie Geron, President of PSLINK, said: “The Canadian Government and  Philippine Government officials who allowed the garbage dumping to happen should be held accountable,” adding that their “Canadian counterparts in the trade union have taken action to express their protest against their own government’s handling of the issue.”

Stated Josua Mata, Secretary General of SENTRO: “We expect the Senate to exercise its moral authority to enjoin lead government agencies into performing their mandate to protect the national interest and resist the trashing of our nation in the name of free trade. ”

Chemical safety and zero waste advocate Aileen Lucero, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, further asked the Senate “plug loopholes in current regulations that allow the entry of hazardous waste stream masked as recyclable materials, including imposing stiffer penalties to deter the smuggling of unsorted trash, e-waste and other hazardous discards.”

Lucero also urged the government and the industry to step up the collection of locally-generated plastic wastes that are available in large quantities to reduce reliance on low-quality and unsorted plastic scrap imports, which is against the law.


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07 September 2015

Four Metro Manila LGUs Lauded for Enforcing Ban on Health-Damaging Contraband Products



Four Metro Manila local government units (LGUs) received a pat on the back from a watchdog group that has been persistently monitoring the illegal trade of harmful contraband products in the marketplace.

The EcoWaste Coalition gave the cities of Makati, Manila, Marikina and Pasay a resounding thumbs up for their swift action to enforce the directives from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banning unregistered cosmetics, household insecticides and slimming products that pose imminent danger to human health.

The group last month sent separate reports to the offices of the mayors and the offices of the city health offices of the four LGUs urging them to take action to curb the sale of the banned imported products in bargain shopping malls, public markets and other retail outlets in their areas.

“Hats off to these LGUs, particularly to their health officers and sanitation inspectors, for implementing the law that led to the seizure of contraband goods that continue to proliferate in the market despite being banned by our health authorities,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“We hope that these LGUs will stay on guard against peddlers of these health-damaging goods and severely punish the repeat offenders,” he said.

“With the LGUs on the frontline, we surely can make some headway in curbing the rampant sale of smuggled goods that present a serious hazard to public health and the environment,” he added.

In Makati, on the orders of Acting Mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña, Jr., sanitary inspectors from the Makati Health Department on August 14 seized close to 200 units of unregistered  beauty and slimming products from  retailers in Guadalupe Nuevo.  Among those confiscated were Erna, Jiaoli and S’zitang skin whitening creams containing toxic mercury.   According to Mayor Peña , “unregistered products, especially those made of unknown ingredients and components, could pose danger to the health and even the lives of people.”

In Manila, the EcoWaste Coalition and the Manila Health Department on August 13 jointly swooped down on Divisoria vendors selling unregistered insect sprays and mosquito coils that are considered a menace to humans, as well as friendly insects, seizing six boxes of the contraband insect killers.

The Marikina City Health Office reported to Mayor Del de Guzman on August 28 that based on the inspection conducted 25 retail outlets in five barangays were found to be selling FDA-banned products.    City Health Officer Alberto Herrera promised to conduct a surprise inspection  to ascertain the vendors’ compliance, warning that stores found to be still in breach of the law will be immediately closed and their business permits recommended for cancellation.

In Pasay City, sanitation inspectors were deployed to check on retailers at Baclaran and Libertad that the EcoWaste Coalition found to be selling items with no product notification or registration from the FDA.

The EcoWaste Coalition pledged to continue its market monitoring for dangerous products with the start of the “ber” months, noting the increased traffic of smuggled goods as the Christmas holidays draw closer.

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