29 February 2016

Toxics Watchdog Urges Erap to Ensure Lead-Safe Playgrounds for Manila’s Kids

A watchdog group promoting children’s safety from toxic exposure today urged Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada to ensure that lead-safe paints are used in refurbishing the city’s public recreational and sport facilities.

Through a letter delivered today, the EcoWaste Coalition requested Estrada to instruct the Parks Development Office (PDO) and the Public Recreations Bureau (PCB) to use lead-safe paints in ongoing park and facility renovations. 

“We reiterate our push for a lead-safe repair and restoration as some of the city’s basketball courts and playgrounds get much-needed facelift,” wrote Sonia Mendoza, President, EcoWaste Coalition.  

Mendoza recalled that the EcoWaste Coalition reported to Estrada in 2014 the sorry state of the nine basketball courts and playgrounds that the group inspected and found the “lead paint coated flooring and equipment chipping and flaking off, posing chemical hazard.”

“Many of the playground equipment were partially, if not totally, wrecked, posing physical hazard,” she added.

To protect Manila children’s health and uphold their well-being, the group wrote anew to Estrada to request the city’s chief executive to instruct the PDO, PCB  and other relevant offices involved in procurement and supply, building design and construction and facility renovation to:

“a.  Buy and use only lead-safe paints for city government-owned facilities such as parks, playgrounds, schools, day care centers, sports centers, multi-purpose halls, as well as healthcare amenities;” and 

“b.  Observe proper procedures for the removal of old paints that might contain lead compounds to avoid the dispersal of hazardous lead-containing dust.”

“Mayor Estrada’s instruction will guide those in charge of constructing or renovating parks, playgrounds, schools and other children and youth-oriented facilities to buy and use latex or water-based lead paints (which generally do not contain lead), as well as solvent-based enamel coatings, epoxy enamel paints and anti-corrosive metal primers that contain no lead,” Mendoza said.

The requested instruction will be in line with a Manila City Council Resolution adopted in 2014, which called upon the City Government “to adopt and pursue a lead safe paint procurement policy” and “to issue a directive to reflect such requirement in the procurement procedures,” Mendoza pointed out.

Lead-containing architectural, household and decorative paints as per DENR Administrative Order 2013-024 will be phased out by December 2016, making it illegal to manufacture and sell such leaded paints 1 January 2017.




28 February 2016

Toxics Watchdog Cautions Cyclists against Hazardous Substance in Glue for Tire Repair

A watchdog group on toxic chemicals, products and wastes today alerted cyclists against using a glue for tire puncture repair that contains 1,2- dichloroethane.

The EcoWaste Coalition sounded the alarm after the government of Spain ordered the withdrawal from the market of a bicycle tire repair kit that includes “Red Sun” glue for containing 1,2- dichloroethane, a cancer-causing substance.

Citing information from the European Union’s Rapid Alert System that was published last Friday, the group said “the glue contains 1,2-dichloroethane (measured value: 49%), (which) is carcinogenic and toxic if inhaled or if they get in contact with the skin.”

On Saturday, the group went to bicycle stores along Quezon Blvd., Quiapo, Manila and bought a tire repair kit containing patches and an 8cc  “Red Sun” glue.  It is sold for P75 per kit with five patches.

“The glue may appear harmless but patiently reading the cautionary text written in tiny print will tell you how harmful its content is,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Dizon cited the following cautionary text as written on the tube:  1) “Harmful vapor – can be fatal if it’s swallowed”; 2) “Extremely flammable – contains distillated petroleum”; and 3) “Use under well ventilated conditions.”

“Aside from the word ‘danger’ in capital letters, the glue also carries the flame pictogram indicating that it has a flammable chemical that can easily catch fire and burn, as well as the skull and crossbones symbol warning that it is poisonous,” he pointed out.

According to the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), 1,2-dichloroethane “is a central nervous system depressant that produces symptoms ranging from nausea, vomiting, headache, lightheadedness, and weakness to stupor, disequilibrium, coma and respiratory arrest.”

In terms of carcinogenicity, “the DHHS has determined that 1,2-dichloroethane may reasonably be expected to cause cancer,” while the International Agency for Research on Cancer  has determined that it “can possibly cause cancer in humans.”

“As many scientists think there is no such thing as ‘safe level of exposure’ to a cancer-causing substance, we advise cyclists to be extra cautious and choose patch kit with safer glue,” Dizon said.

“We further advise everyone to make it a habit to read the fine print. We have the right to know and be protected against harm,” he added.






26 February 2016

EcoWaste Coalition Shows Bags and Other Functional Items from Repurposed Tarps

Tarp Ball Bag
Tarp Laundry Bag
Tarp Shopping Bag

 Tarp Purse
 Tarp Mini Bag
 Tarp Shoe Bag
 Tarp Apron
 Tarp Bills Organizer
 Tarp Tools Belt
 Tarp Recyclables Receptacle
Tarp Multi-Purpose Organizer

In a creative action aimed at preventing campaign tarpaulins from entering the waste stream and aggravating pollution at dumpsites, the EcoWaste Coalition today unveiled an array of useful items from the ubiquitous poll campaign material.

At a makeshift outdoor showroom, the zero waste advocacy group presented various tarpaulin-based products that were among the tons of unlawful election campaign paraphernalia taken down by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) from unauthorized display spots and given to the EcoWaste Coalition for recycling. 

“With an ounce of creativity, we can make a variety of practical crafts out of politicians’ tarpaulins, which we can find all over the place as the campaign goes full blast,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Repurposing the campaign tarps will help keep these plastics out of dumpsites that are bursting at the seams as the country’s garbage continues to swell,” she said.  

With the message “Tarps: Dump Not, Burn Not” as backdrop, the group put on display the innovatively repurposed items.

Among the items in view were sturdy shopping bags in various sizes, petite carry bags, shoe bags and purses.   

Other items on show were workers’ aprons, tool belts, bills and magazines organizers and receptacles for office and household recyclables such as papers, newspapers, glass and plastic bottles and aluminum and tin cans.

The tarps can also be used as a sun and rain shield for pedicabs, tricycles and jeepneys, as well as improvised awnings for homes and shops, the EcoWaste Coalition added.

In pushing for the repurposing or recycling of campaign tarps for non-food purposes, the group stressed that doing so will help cut the volume, as well as the toxicity, of discards that are disposed of in dumpsites. 

“Dumping these tarps will lead to their chemical ingredients leaching into the soil, as well as to surface and ground waters,” cautioned Lucero.

“Burning these tarps, which are mostly made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, will create and discharge extremely toxic pollutants, namely dioxins and furans, that can contaminate the food supply chain and harm human health,” she added.  

However, the group pointed out that repurposing the tarps is a temporary measure that will only delay their eventual disposal.

“What is really needed is for the plastic industry to remove the harmful chemicals in tarps, for the government to issue a health-protective regulation and for consumers to insist on toxic-free tarps.  This will surely make the recycling of tarps safer and less complicated,” Lucero said.

“While the industry has yet to switch to safer formulations, we urge candidates for the May 2016 polls to moderate their use of tarps and to take full responsibility for their tarps after the campaign period is over,” she emphasized.

As tarps contain undisclosed chemicals of concern, the EcoWaste Coalition further reminded the public not to use tarps in applications that may contaminate the food or expose young children to hazardous substances.  


24 February 2016

#SumbongKo: Illegal Election Campaign Materials at Agoncillo St., Manila; Photos Taken at 24 February 2016, 7:30 am

 Agoncillo St., Manila
 Agoncillo St., Manila
Agoncillo St., Manila

#SumbongKo: Illegal Election Campaign Materials at Parañaque City; Photos Taken on 23 February 2016, 5:00-5:30 pm

 G.G. Cruz St., Parañaque City
  G.G. Cruz St., Parañaque City
 G.G. Cruz St., Parañaque City
Santiago St., Parañaque City
 Pinaglabanan St. cor. Sta. Rita Ext., Parañaque City
 Quirino Ave., Parañaque City

23 February 2016

#SumbongKo: Illegal Election Campaign Materials at Makati City; Photos Taken on 23 February 2016, 7:30-8:00 am

 P. Burgos St., cor. D.M. Rivera, St., Makati City
 P. Burgos St., cor. D.M. Rivera St., Makati City
 H. Santos St., cor. J.P. Rizal Ave., Makati City
 J. P. Rizal Ave., next to Poblacion Fire Station, Makati City
 J.P. Rizal Ave., next to Poblacion Fire Station, Makati City
J.B. Roxas St. near cor., Obrero St., Makati City

Group Calls for People Power vs Dumping towards Chemical Safety and Zero Waste

As the nation prepares to mark the 30th anniversary of EDSA I, a chemical safety and zero waste advocacy group rallied the Filipino people to back politicians who will protect the public health and the environment from the ills of dumping.

“We need ‘people power’ to elect local and national leaders who will stem the tide of dumping that is polluting our communities and ecosystems with wastes and toxics,” said Sonia Mendoza, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“As the campaign season heats up, we ask the electorate to be more discerning and use the power of the ballot to beat the widespread dumping that is not only defiling our surroundings, but also causing immeasurable harm to our fragile environment,” she emphasized.

“We need leaders who will take up the cudgels for the people and the environment and who will seriously enforce waste and pollution prevention and control, which is at the core of Republic Act 9003,” she said.

Mendoza lamented that despite the enactment in 2000 of R.A. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, hundreds of illegal open and controlled dumpsites continue to operate across the archipelago.

Citing data from the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC),  the EcoWaste Coalition  bewailed  that 399 open dumpsites and 178 controlled dumpsites are operating all over the country where portions of the 40,087 tons of waste generated daily go.

This dreadful situation prompted the filing by Romy Hidalgo, NGO Representative at the NSWMC, last  February 10 of 50 complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman, involving close to 600 local government officials from 13 regions, for violations of R.A. 9003, including the failure to close and rehabilitate dumpsites.  

“The dumping of foreign waste such as those from Canada has aggravated this situation as if we did not have enough trash to handle and solve,” said Rene Pineda, Vice-President, EcoWaste Coalition.

Aside from local and foreign waste dumping, the EcoWaste Coalition deplored the dumping of dangerous goods in the country’s ports that ultimately find their way to Divisoria and to millions of households.

Toys that are not safe for kids to play with, low-quality consumer electronics laden with hazardous substances, unregistered cosmetics laced with lead, mercury and other harmful ingredients and  weight-loss products with unauthorized drugs are examples of such dangerous goods, the group said.

“People power,” the EcoWaste Coalition believed, would  play a pivotal role in curbing, if not eradicating, the problems associated with dumping.

The group clarified that “people power” is not limited to holding huge protest assemblies.

“It can be expressed in many forms – from boycotting products with excessive packaging to using ‘bayong’ to shop, from segregating discards at source and not littering to drastically reducing what you throw by recycling and composting, from shifting to safer chemical and non-chemical alternatives to demanding transparency and accountability from governmental agencies and businesses, and to provoking political change through the ballots,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a member of the Green Thumb Coalition, is a strong advocate for chemical safety and zero waste in the ongoing campaign for the May polls.



21 February 2016

EcoWaste Coalition Warns of Cadmium Pollution due to Unregulated Use of Tarpaulins

As the government’s “Operation Baklas” against illegal poll  campaign materials continues, an environmental watchdog group highlighted the lack of regulation to restrict cadmium, a cancer-causing substance, in plastic tarpaulins.

“Plastic tarpaulins have become extremely popular for all types of advertising and promotion.  The use of tarps by politicians running for the May polls is a case in point,” observed Aileen Lucero, Coordinator,
EcoWaste Coalition.

“But, the problem goes beyond the huge volume of tarps hanging on unauthorized places like bridges, cables, lamp posts and trees that have to be laboriously removed by MMDA or DPWH workers,” she noted.

“Most tarps, especially those made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, contain hazardous additives such as cadmium, a carcinogenic substance that is among the ‘10 chemicals of major public health concern’ of the World Health Organization (WHO),” she said.

Lucero cited the results of the chemical screening conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition on 300 pieces of campaign tarps from various national and local candidates that were among those removed by the MMDA from illegal sites.

All of the 300 tarps were found to contain cadmium in the range of  697 to 1,921 parts per million (ppm), way above the European Union’s 100 ppm limit for cadmium in plastics.

“While developed economies have adopted measures to ban cadmium in all plastics, the Philippines has yet to follow suit,” she said.

Lucero  cited the European Commission Regulation No. 494/2011, which prohibits manufacturers from  placing mixtures and articles produced from plastic material containing cadmium “equal to or greater than 0,01 % by weight,” or 100 ppm.

 "We need to ban the intentional use of cadmium-based pigments and stabilizers in all plastics, including tarps and packaging materials, to protect the public health and reduce the amount of cadmium that enters the waste streams, which, at the end of the day, will get dispersed into the environment,” she said.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), “products containing cadmium are not typically collected separately from the general waste stream in developing countries. Therefore cadmium discards will end up in municipal waste and disposed of in landfills, incineration, open burning or indiscriminate dumping.”

“Some of the cadmium in these products will be released to the environment, the extent of which depends on disposal method, control technologies applied and other factors,” UNEP said.

Scientific studies have linked long-term exposure to cadmium to high blood pressure, age-related macular degeneration, and cancer of the breast, lung and kidney, which is considered the critical target organ for toxicity of cadmium in humans,

Cadmium is classified as “carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

To decrease global environmental cadmium releases and reduce occupational and environmental exposure to cadmium and associated health effects, the WHO has recommended, among other things, the “(reduction) as far as is practicable emissions of cadmium—particularly into surface waters.”

The WHO has likewise recommended the development of techniques for the safe disposal of cadmium-containing wastes and effluents.

As part of its chemical safety and zero waste advocacy, the EcoWaste Coalition hoped to collaborate with the government and the industry in crafting a regulation that will prevent and reduce cadmium releases into the environment and protect the public health.


18 February 2016

Zero Waste Group to Repurpose Campaign Materials Seized by the MMDA into Useful Items

To prevent campaign tarpaulins from ending in dumps, the EcoWaste Coalition today received from the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) some 250 pieces of seized poll materials that will be repurposed into useful items. 

At a simple ceremony held at the agency's headquarters, MMDA General Manager Corazon Jimenez and MMDA Metro Parkway Clearing Group Francis Martinez turned over the tarpaulins to the environmental watchdog group, which is working with the government to promote “Basura-Free Elections.”

The tarpaulins were among the truckloads of illegal campaign materials removed by the MMDA from foot bridges, lamp posts, cable wires and trees following the launch of the “Operation Baklas” last February 9.

“The seized campaign materials are valuable resources that should be put to good use,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, who also acknowledged the MMDA's ongoing efforts to take down unlawful poll publicity materials without fear or favor. 

“It will be such a huge waste if these illegal election paraphernalia are buried in landfills.  We can and we should find appropriate uses for them,” she said.

For example, tarpaulins can be repurposed into coin purses, pouch bags, grocery bags and beach bags.

Tarpaulins can also be sewn into mail and shoe organizers, worker’s aprons, tool belts, laundry baskets and even as receptacles for office or household recyclables.

The EcoWaste Coalition will collaborate with community-based organizations in making prototypes that can inspire others to reuse and recycle election campaign tarpaulins. 

Lucero was quick to point out that tarpaulins cannot be repurposed for certain applications that could contaminate food or expose young children to chemicals of concern such as cadmium and lead.

“Reusing and recycling tarpaulins would have been easier and less complicated if they do not contain toxic chemicals that are bad for human health and the environment,” she said.

Before sending the tarpaulins to partner groups for repurposing, the EcoWaste Coalition will first screen them for toxic metals through a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.

“We’ll use the chemical data to be generated to push for a regulation that will restrict, if not eliminate, toxic additives in plastic tarpaulins,” Lucero said.

“Removing such toxic additives is necessary to make tarpaulins easily reusable and recyclable and less a threat to public health and the ecosystems,” she emphasized.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a member of the Green Thumb Coalition, works to draw attention and action on chemicals and wastes as important electoral issues that candidates and voters should be concerned about..


15 February 2016

Women Beware: EcoWaste Coalition Finds Banned Hair Dye Chemical in Europe in PH Retail Market

 "Bigen Permanent Powder Hair Colour" with sodium perborate banned in UK and Europe
 "Bigen Powder Hair Dye" with sodium perborate on sale in the Philippines
"Shades Powder Hair Dye" and "Tancho Hair Dye" with sodium perborate are sold locally
Be careful with what you color your crowning glory as some hair dyes can damage your ability to conceive and even put the baby in your womb at risk.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a chemical safety and zero waste advocacy group, sounded the alarm against hair dyes containing sodium perborate, a toxic boron compound, following a Europe-wide product alert involving three brands.

As reported in the European Union’s Rapid Alert System for Dangerous Non-Food Dangerous (RAPEX), the government of the United Kingdom has recalled “Bigen Permanent Powder Hair Colour,” “Blasol Powder Hair Colouring Formula” and “JR Beauty Organics Permanent Powder Hair Colour” for containing banned sodium perborate.

“Sodium perborate is toxic if inhaled, causes serious eye damage, is harmful if swallowed and may cause respiratory irritation. It may damage fertility or the unborn child,” the UK product recall notification stated.

“The said hair dyes do not comply with the EU Cosmetic Products Regulation, which has listed sodium perborate among the substances banned for use in cosmetic products due to their classification as carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

The European warning prompted the EcoWaste Coalition to immediately check if hair dyes with sodium perborate are sold locally and to duly inform the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) of its findings.   

“Our market monitoring shows that at least three brands of hair dyes containing sodium perborate as written on their labels are offered for sale in the local market,” stated Dizon.

“You can buy them at major department stores, pharmacies and supermarkets despite being banned in Europe,’ he said.

Through its letter, the EcoWaste Coalition requested the FDA to propose the inclusion of sodium perborate in Annex II, Part 1 of the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive, or the “list of substances which must not form part of the composition of cosmetic products.” 

“As the process of getting sodium perborate listed might take some time, we encourage the FDA to urge concerned cosmetics manufacturers to voluntarily switch to safe alternatives to sodium perborate in order to protect human health, particularly maternal and fetal health,” the group said.

“Sainsbury’s and Tesco, two of UK’s retail giants, have taken hairs dyes with sodium perborate off their store shelves.  In the interest of consumer health and safety, we hope that local retailers will follow suit,” the EcoWaste Coalition said. 




14 February 2016

#SumbongKo: Illegal Election Campaign Materials at Kamuning, Quezon City; Photos Taken on 14 February 2016, 1:00 pm

 Kamuning Public Market, K-5th St., Quezon City
 Kamuning Public Market, K-5th St., Quezon City
 Kamuning Public Market, K-5th St., Quezon City
 Kamuning Public Market, K-5th St., Quezon City
 K-5th St., Kamuning, Quezon City
 T. Gener St., cor. K-4th St., Kamuning, Quezon City

 T. Gener St., cor. K-2nd St., Kamuning, Quezon City
T.Gener St., cor K-1st St., Kamuning, Quezon City