28 June 2016

Environmental Activists Call Out Canada’s Failure to Reclaim Stinking Trash, Ask PM Trudeau to Re-Import “Overstaying” Garbage

As Filipinos usher in the Duterte government and his promise of change, environmental activists gathered anew outside the Embassy of Canada in Makati City to denounce the long-drawn-out Canadian garbage dumping scandal that has haunted the outgoing Aquino administration.

At a peaceful rally organized by the EcoWaste Coalition and Buklod Tao, the activists called out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his government’s failure to re-import the illegal trash shipments that have been rotting in Manila and Subic ports.

“We ask PM Trudeau not to saddle the Duterte government with these overstaying containers of reeking garbage from Canada.  His government must move quickly to repossess these illegal shipments for environmentally-sound disposal in Canada,” said Noli Abinales, President of the  EcoWaste Coalition, a watch group on chemicals and wastes. 

“Removing Canada’s garbage from our ports will be viewed as a meaningful gesture of goodwill towards the new government and put this hullabaloo behind us,” he pointed out.

To get their message across loud and clear, the protestors paraded 12 mock garbage-filled shipping containers bearing Canada’s iconic maple leaf and  unveiled a banner that says “PM Trudeau: What ever happened to the ‘Canadian  solution’? For the sake of justice, take back garbage now!”

On the fringe of the APEC Summit last year, Trudeau stated that a “Canadian solution” is being developed to address the dumping controversy that had remained unresolved for far too long.

The Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy (Green Convergence), Citizens’ Environmental Network (CEN) and the Green Thumb Coalition (GTC) also joined the EcoWaste Coalition in appealing to Trudeau to act fast on the matter.

“We reiterate our demand for PM Trudeau to take their trash back as soon as possible so we can conclude this unhappy episode in Canada-Philippines relations and move on,” said Dr. Angelina Galang, President of the Green Convergence.

“I add my voice to the persistent call asking Canada to re-import their garbage and bring this blatant case of environmental injustice to a close under the Duterte presidency.  We’ve waited long enough, it’s time to return those stinking containers to where they came from,” said “running priest” Fr. Robert Reyes, Lead Convenor, CEN.

Lawyer Aaron Pedrosa, one of the convenors of GTC and Secretary General of Sanlakas said: “Canada has to assume full responsibility for its illegal garbage export to the Philippines that contravenes national and international laws.  PM Trudeau must act fast with unflinching resolve to put this matter to rest.”

It will be recalled that some 103 shipping containers of largely residual household garbage declared as scrap plastics for recycling were illegally exported to the Philippines from Canada from 2013-2014.  In 2015, garbage from 26 of these containers was unlawfully disposed of at a landfill in Tarlac, causing an uproar.

A government-led waste characterization study in 2014 confirmed that 63.94% of the garbage shipments were residuals, which can no longer be recycled and should be properly disposed of.

Local authorities, including officials from the provincial governments of Bulacan and Tarlac and the city governments of Navotas and Quezon Cities, have rejected foreign waste disposal in landfill facilities operating within their jurisdictions.

The EcoWaste Coalition, which espouses environmental justice and zero waste, has warned that “the disposal of the Canadian garbage in local landfills, cement kilns and waste-to-energy facilities will be totally wrong and unacceptable,” and will be in violation of Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and related local regulations.

The group noted that “Canada, a highly developed country, should have no problem dealing with their soiled diapers, spent electronics, plastic junks and other rubbish right in their own backyard,” stressing “there is no justification at all for their refuse to remain in our soil to be buried or burned.”  

In the proposed “Agenda on Wastes and Toxics for President Rodrigo Duterte’s First 100 Days in Office” submitted by the EcoWaste Coalition to the Duterte team in Davao City last May 18, the group requested the new government to “order the re-export of Canadian garbage back to its origin and initiate policy reforms to effectively block foreign waste dumping in the country, including ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment.”


24 June 2016

Watchdog Prods Students and Teachers to Avoid Products Laced with Toxic Chemicals

The EcoWaste Coalition, a watch group on toxic chemicals and wastes, today went to a public high school in Kaunlaran Village, Navotas City to promote student and teacher awareness on hazardous substances lurking in some toys, school supplies and cosmetics.

To conclude its participation in this year’s National Poison Prevention Week, the group conducted a lively chemical alertness activity at the Kaunlaran High School.

“Not all products are created equal.  Some products are laden with dangerous chemicals that can pose serious threat to a person’s health and even pollute the environment.  In many cases, these poison chemicals are not written on the product labels, thus keeping consumers in the dark,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect. 

Dr. Annabelle Sinlao, who graduated valedictorian from Kaunlaran High School, told the audience that “we need to be on the lookout for these hidden toxins in the products that we use, which can penetrate our bodies via ingestion, inhalation or skin absorption and cause damage to our health even at low levels of exposure.”

Both Dizon and Sinlao emphasized the need for manufacturers to produce non-toxic products and for companies to provide complete product information, including the chemical ingredients comprising a product and their effects, if any, to health and the environment.

To show that some products contain hazardous substances, the group screened a variety of samples using a handy X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer that is able to rapidly identify and measure up to 20 elements present in a given sample. 

Engr. Mark Anthony Sodila of QES (Manila), Inc., assisted by the EcoWaste Coalition’s staff, conducted the on-the-spot product screening activity.

With the help of the XRF device, the group uncovered high concentrations of cadmium, lead and mercury, among other toxic metals, in some children’s toys, school supplies and cosmetics.     

For example, cadmium was detected in one plastic raincoat with a popular “Ben 10”cartoon character; lead was found in a variety of school supplies such as backpacks, paper clips and water colors, as well as in lipsticks; and mercury was discovered in skin whitening facial creams.   

Cadmium, lead and mercury are among the “ten chemicals of major public health concern,” according to the World Health Organization, which are known to cause reproductive and birth defects, developmental abnormalities,  brain and central nervous system disorders,  hormonal disruptions, behavioral problems, and other health issues.

To prevent exposure to unsafe toys, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed that consumers should examine the product label, particularly the age recommendation, precautionary warnings, safety instructions and manufacturing details, as well as to look for the government-issued license to operate (LTO) number.

When buying school supplies, the group reminded the audience to carefully read the labelling information and seek non-toxic products, avoiding items made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic,  those with strong chemical smell and those painted with bright colors unless certified as lead-safe.

As for cosmetics, the group advised consumers to peruse the product label, which should contain the required information in English such as the brand and product name along with the function, ingredients, net content,  directions for use, special precautions, batch number, manufacturing/expiry date, country of manufacture, and name and address of the company or person who placed the product on the market.

The group also encouraged the public to visit the website of the Food and Drugs Administration for other useful tips on how to select safe toys, school supplies, cosmetics and other products.


22 June 2016

Groups Spread Information to Protect the Elderly from Accidental Overdoses due to Medications

The nation’s elderly people are at risk of unintentional poisoning injuries and deaths due to the overuse or misuse of medicines, which can be prevented by taking steps to rationally use drugs.

At a forum aptly themed “Bantay Kalusugan para kay Lolo at Lola: Tamang Paggamit ng Gamot at Iba Pa,” pharmacology and toxicology experts took turns to enlighten the elderly audience about the factors that contribute to altered effects of drugs among senior citizens and the do’s and don’ts to avoid poisoning.

The forum was held in observance of the National Poison Prevention Week as per Proclamation No. 1777, Series of 2009, and was co-organized by the National Poison Management and Control Center UP College of Medicine-Philippine General Hospital (NPMCC UP-PGH), the Philippine Society of Clinical and Occupational Toxicology (PSCOT) and the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Because of physiological changes, elderly people handle drugs differently, which can cause serious adverse health effects if not properly used.  Due to their poor eyesight, absentmindedness and lack of awareness and understanding of the intended uses of drugs, the elderly are prone to adverse drug events (ADEs) or injuries resulting from the use of a drug,” said Dr. Lynn R. Panganiban, Professor,  UP College of Medicine and Consultant, NPMCC UP-PGH.

“Social and economic factors such as vices, dietary preferences and polypharmacy (the simultaneous use of multiple drugs) increase the risk to incidence of ADEs among the elderly, which can be avoided through the rational use of drugs,” she added.

Joining Panganiban in providing life-saving information to prevent overdose and poisoning incidents among the elderly people were Dr. Carissa Paz C. Dioquino and Dr. John Paul Ner.

To prevent ADEs among senior citizens, the experts emphasized that 1. the administration of medicines should be supervised; 2.  pills should be stored in their original containers, or in pill boxes or organizers, to avoid mixing of pills; 3.  the labels on medicine containers should be retained and kept legible; 4.  self-medication or buying medicines marketed as “wonder” or “miracle pills” with cure-all indications should be avoided; 5. a list of medications currently taken should be kept and those that are no longer used should be discarded; and 6. polypharmacy (especially of over-the-counter drugs) should be avoided.

The experts also reminded the elderly to consult a doctor when new signs and symptoms appear and when contemplating to take an over-the-counter medicine.  

To avoid mishaps and accidental poisoning, the experts also stressed that elderly patients should request for a written treatment plan from their doctors.

The treatment plan should include the name(s) of the drug(s), dosage, indication(s) and instructions as to the manner of administration, and also make a note regarding adverse effects to be monitored and food to be avoided.

For his part senior citizen Noli Abinales, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, commended the NPMCC UP-PGH and PSCOT for paying attention to overdose and poisoning cases involving the elderly, which often go unnoticed and unrecorded.

“We laud and thank our poison centers and poison experts for their efforts to uphold the right to chemical and pharmaceutical safety of vulnerable groups such as the elderly, and may they get more budgetary support for their crucial work from the incoming administration,” he said.

Based on NPMCC UP-PGH’s census of poisoning cases, the top five toxicants affecting the elderly include pesticide (e.g., Malathion), sodium hypochlorite (e.g., Zonrox ), kerosene, benzodiazepine (e.g.,Diazepam), and ethanol (e.g., alcoholic drinks).


20 June 2016

Groups Push for Poison-Proofing Homes and Schools to Prevent Poisoning Emergencies


An expert on the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms today advised students and their teachers to be on their guard against harmful substances that may put their health in danger.

Speaking at a forum organized by the EcoWaste Coalition to mark the National Poison Prevention Week,  Dr. Nerissa M. Dando, Associate Professor and Toxicology Consultant of the National Poison Management and Control Center (NPMCC UP - PGH), reminded some 300 students of the Manila Science High School to be cautious as poisons come in various containers, forms  and sizes.

In line with the theme “Poisons in the School: Prevention is the Solution,” Dando, who is also the President of the Society of Adolescent Medicine of the
Philippines, underscored the old saying “prevention is better than cure” to stress the importance of avoiding exposure to poisonous substances in a proactive manner than to deal with it later.

“Poison prevention education is essential to protect our children from unwittingly exposing themselves to hazardous products and wastes.  We can avoid poisoning emergencies that may even lead to severe injury and death by becoming aware of actual and potential hazards in our surroundings and taking concrete steps to poison-proof our homes, schools and workplaces,” said Dando, a clinical toxicology expert.

For her part, Maria Eva S. Nacion, Principal of the
Manila Science High School, stated that “
by learning and acting together, we can make our faculty members, students and non-teaching staff more safety-conscious to prevent poisoning incidents, which can put our children’s health and their future at risk.”   

Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect cited s
ome of the more common poisons in the school setting that can make children ill if ingested or inhaled, including lead-containing paint chip and dust, schools supplies laced with hazardous ingredients, laboratory chemicals, busted mercury-containing fluorescent lamps, and cleaning agents such as chlorine granules, oxalic acid crystals and sodium hypochlorite (aka “clorox”).  

Seemingly harmless stuff like paracetamol, vitamins, lipsticks, colognes, perfumes and sanitizers can become a poison and cause serious injury if used in a wrong way, Dizon also warned.

Dando explained that children are more sensitive and susceptible to the harmful effects of hazardous substances than adults because their body defense systems are still developing, they consume more food and water and breathe more air in proportion to their body size, and their hand-to-mouth behaviour can expose them more to environmental contaminants.

To poison-proof our homes and schools, the groups school administrators and teachers, as well as parents, to observe the following:

1.  Handle, use, store and dispose of products safely.  Seek out eco-friendly products that do not contain hazardous substances.

2.  Read the product labels carefully and follow the safety instructions.  Pay attention to the hazard pictograms and precautionary warnings.

3.  Keep medicines, bleaching, cleaning and laundry products, insecticides, paints, varnishes and thinners, and car maintenance materials out of children’s sight and reach in a securely locked cabinet or area.

4.  Return all products to their proper storage immediately after use.  Do not leave them unattended.

5.  Never place poisonous products in beverage and food containers such as drinking cups or softdrink bottles.  Keep them in their original containers.

6.  Never reuse pesticide and other chemical containers for storing food and water.

7.  Do not mix household cleaning products together.  Combining bleach and cleaning products with ammonia, for example, can form dangerous fumes.

8.   Wash children’s toys and other play things regularly to minimize the risk of your child coming into contact with lead-containing dust and other environmental pollutants.

9.  Teach kids how to safely use art materials such as crayons, water colors, glues and other adhesives and remind them not to eat or drink while doing their art assignments.

10.  Whenever there is question of poison exposure, please call the NPMCC or consult a medical doctor nearest to you.  Don’t make your child vomit.  Keep the following numbers of the NPMCC by your phone: at
 02-5241078, 5548400 local 2311 or 0922-8961541.

The National Poison Prevention Week is observed every fourth week of June as per Proclamation No. 1777, series of 2009 to increase awareness on the preventive aspects of poisoning prevention at home, school, work and the general environment.




18 June 2016

Watchdog Tells Men to Take It Easy on Fragranced Cosmetics


As Father’s Day is celebrated tomorrow, a watch group on hazardous substances cautioned men to be extra careful in purchasing cosmetics containing fragrances that can disrupt hormonal functions and adversely affect their sexual and reproductive health.

The EcoWaste Coalition, citing precautionary warnings by US-based advocacy groups, said that some cosmetics marketed to men and teenage boys like body spray and cologne, shaving cream, aftershave and hair products may contain undisclosed chemicals of concern.

“The safety of cosmetics is not only a women’s issue as men and boys nowadays use a variety of cosmetics and personal care products, making them just as vulnerable to ingredients that can possibly harm their reproductive health and fertility,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.  

“One of these ingredients of concern is ‘fragrance’ which may contain endocrine disrupting chemicals such as phathalates,” he pointed out.

“As fragrance ingredients are seldom fully listed on the label, consumers should seek out fragrance-free products as a precaution against phthalate exposure.  Take it easy on fragrance-laced cosmetics,” he said. 

“Although it’s just one little word on the ingredient label, ‘fragrance’ can contain dozens, even hundreds of chemicals, including hormone-disrupting phthalates and synthetic musks,” warned the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a project of the San Francisco-based Breast Cancer Fund.

The Washington DC-based Environmental Working Group warned “some ingredients are hormonally active; some of these are specifically linked to male reproductive system disorders” such as endocrine-disrupting phthalates, which are commonly found in fragrances. 

Some of the reproductive health issues associated with exposure to phthalates include poor semen quality, decreased sperm counts, infertility, altered hormone levels and testicular and prostate cancer.

“While men are exposed on average to six products a day versus 12 products for women, they are still exposed to some 80 unique chemicals from personal care products such as soap, shampoo, shaving cream, fragranced aftershave, etc.,” said scientist Dr. Ann Blake, an expert on toxics reduction strategies.

Blake, who spoke at a lecture-forum in 2012 co-organized by the EcoWaste Coalition and Food and Drugs Administration, said that “some male-specific health effects include exposure to Di-Ethyl Phthalate (DEP), a hormone disruptor, that impact on sperm quality and motility.”

Safe cosmetics groups advised men and other consumers to avoid or reduce their use of products with added fragrance, to read product labels closely and to find safer substitutes.




16 June 2016

EcoWaste Coalition Makes a Pitch for Healthy “Baon” to Combat Obesity among Children

In a bid to prevent the health consequences of being overweight and obese among children, the EcoWaste Coalition today organized an event showcasing “baon” with good nutritional value that are within ordinary people’s reach and budget.

The “back-to-school” event dubbed as “Healthy Baon, Healthy Bata, Healthy Eswela” was held at the Sto. Cristo Elementary School in Quezon City and featured healthful snacks and drinks prepared by the Edukasyong Pangtahanan at Pangkabuhayan teachers of the said public school.

Among their snack creations were burger patty made of shredded banana heart, grated carrots and chopped malunggay leaves; pancake batter with mashed squash, coconut milk and malunggay water on it;  and spring roll with crushed camote and malunggay as fillings.

For healthier beverage options, the teachers concocted “Pinoy” drinks such as the malunggay, kalamansi and tanglad juice, guava juice and talbos ng kamote (camote tops) juice.

“We have staged this event to stir up interest and support for healthy school snacks and drinks as a way of reducing children’s consumption of junk food  that are high in fat, sugar and salt, which can lead to overweight and obesity problems at an early age,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Obese children are likely to stay obese later in life and are likely to suffer from related non-communicable diseases, hence the need to actively promote healthier foods, as well as regular physical activities, among our kids,” she pointed out.  

As confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO), “childhood obesity is associated with a higher chance of obesity, premature death and disability in adulthood. But in addition to increased future risks, obese children experience breathing difficulties, increased risk of fractures, hypertension, early markers of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and psychological effects.”

Citing data from the 8th National Nutrition Survey conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), the EcoWaste Coalition expressed concern over the rise of overweight and obese Filipinos from 16.6% in 1993 to 31.1% in 2013. The overweight and obesity prevalence was 5% among children aged five to 10 and 8.3% for teenagers aged 10 to 19.  

The FNRI cited physical inactivity, changing dietary patterns, child under-nutrition, and poor breastfeeding practices as possible reasons for the steady rise of obesity in the country. 

As stated by the FNRI, “creating a healthy food environment starts at home and school as they remain the largest sources of food access for children.”

Towards a healthy food environment, particularly in schools, the EcoWaste Coalition urged school administrators to strengthen their implementation of the Department of Education (DepEd) Order No. 8, Series of 2007, which states that “school canteens shall serve as a venue for developing desirable eating habits of pupils/ students.”

The DepEd guidelines also states that “only nutrient-rich foods such as root crops, noodles, rice and corn products in native preparation, fruits and vegetables in season, and fortified food products labeled rich in protein, energy, vitamins and minerals shall be sold in the school canteen. Beverages shall include milk, shakes and juices prepared from fruits and vegetables in season.”

The guidelines also prohibit “the sale of carbonated drinks, sugar-based synthetic or artificially flavored juices, junk foods and any food product that may be detrimental to the child’s health and that do not bear the Sangkap Pinoy seal and/or did not pass BFAD approval.”  BFAD is now known as the Food and Drugs Administration.




12 June 2016

Watch Group Cautions School Kids from Buying Hazardous Playthings

A watch group for children’s health and safety advised students to be careful in buying playthings as classes in public elementary and high schools resume tomorrow.

The EcoWaste Coalition, which has been tracking dangerous toys in the market since 2011, issued the advisory as “sari-sari” stores near schools, as well as ambulant vendors, are expected to sell cheap toys to the delight of playful kids.

“The sale of cheap playthings outside the gates has become a common sight in many of our public schools. More often than not, these playthings are not properly labeled and registered, and provide no safety instructions and precautionary warnings,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect. 

“Many toys appear harmless to the naked eyes.
  But, unknown to many of us, some toys can pose health and safety risks, especially for young children,” he said. 

Dizon warned that some toys may cause breathing difficulties or choking because of their small or unsecured parts that kids may ingest; some toys may injure the eyes or cause bruises and cuts because of their sharp edges or points; and some toys may even pose strangulation risk due to their long cords or strings.

"There are also toys that are laced with health-damaging chemicals such as cadmium, lead, mercury and phthalates that can harm children’s brains and development,” he added.

“As school-going kids may not be able to exercise their rights as consumers because of their young age, we urge their parents and teachers to guide them on how to prevent hazardous playthings,” he stated.

Hazardous playthings are toys that pose choking, laceration, poking, strangulation and chemical exposure risks, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Safe playthings, on the other hand, are age-appropriate, durable, contain no small, pointed or sharp
parts, with string not longer than 12 inches, not coated with lead paint, not made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, and must be labeled and registered.

To safeguard schoolchildren from falling prey to hazardous playthings, the EcoWaste Coalition urged “sari-sari” stores and ambulant vendors not to sell unlabeled and unregistered toys.

The group also urged the national and local health departments, in coordination with barangay and police authorities, to conduct random inspections of toys, as well as foods, being sold in the vicinity of the country’s public schools.


11 June 2016

“Palit-Zipper” Drive Held to Reduce Children’s Exposure to Toxic Lead

YKK Philippines, Inc., the country’s leading fastening company, has partnered with the EcoWaste Coalition and the Melencio M. Castelo Elementary School in Quezon City to replace damaged zippers of school uniforms.

Through the “Palit-Zipper na Ligtas sa Tingga” program held today, broken zippers of school pants, shorts and skirts were replaced with lead-safe zippers without charge.

“We now know that lead in paint and dust is bad for children’s health.  Thanks to the creative and vigilant advocacy of the EcoWaste Coalition.  But, we did not realize until now that lead-coated zippers can be a potential source of exposure,” said Rodolfo Modelo, Principal of the Melencio M. Castelo Elementary School.

“We thank YKK and EcoWaste for choosing our school for this beneficial undertaking that has made us aware of the potential lead hazard in poor quality zippers and also helped reduce the back-to-school expenses for our parents,” he said.

For his part, Tadashi Koshio, who is the Executive Vice-President for Sales and Marketing of YKK Philippines Inc., said: “Our zippers and other fastening products are recognized for their high quality, durability and compliance with national and global standards.  We are happy to assure our Filipino customers that YKK zippers do not contain lead and other hazardous substances that can pose health and environmental risks.”

“Consumers need to be choosy when buying clothes, bags and other items with fastening devices as some zippers may be loaded with dangerous amounts of lead, a toxic chemical that is known to harm children’s developing brains,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Dizon cited their discovery of extremely high concentrations of lead in some school supplies as part of the group’s “get the toxics out” back-to-school campaign, including a pencil pouch and a back pack that had zippers containing 27,800  and 120,000 parts per million (ppm) of lead, respectively.

The group had also detected lead in the pull tabs and sliders of four brands of garment zippers in the range of 11,600 ppm to 45,100 ppm.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24 prohibits lead in the production of school supplies and limits lead in paint at 90 ppm.

Zippers, which are easily reached parts of basic school necessities such as bags and uniforms, must be lead-free as children are most susceptible to the health effects of lead exposure, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “children are particularly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of lead, and even relatively low levels of exposure can cause serious and in some cases irreversible neurological damage.”

“There is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe,” the WHO said.




08 June 2016

EcoWaste Coalition Warns against Toxic Lead in Some Zippers Used for School Bags and Uniforms

Zippers with lead-free pull tabs and sliders (above) and those with lead-painted pull tabs and sliders (below)

As last minute-shoppers troop to Divisoria, Manila for low-cost back-to-school garments and supplies, a watch group on toxic chemicals alerted consumers on zippers with colored pull tabs and sliders that may be coated with lead paint.

The EcoWaste Coalition urged consumers to watch out for zippers with toxic pull tabs and sliders after screening 30 units of green, red, orange and yellow zippers costing from P2 to P20 each that the group bought from sewing supplies stores  in Divisoria.

Equipped with a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence device, the group detected high concentrations of lead above the regulatory limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) for lead in paint on the pullers and sliders of four  zippers.

As per XRF screening, a yellow “Win” zipper was found to contain 45,100 ppm lead, while a green “Sumo” zipper had 36,900 ppm, an orange “ETC” zipper had 24,500 ppm and a green “Three Star” zipper had 11,600 ppm.

No lead was detected on market leader “YKK” zippers, as well as “Fuji,” “FZ,” “MG,” “MJT” and several generic zippers.

“This is not the first time that we detected elevated levels of lead on colored zippers used to fasten clothes,” noted Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“We have also found high levels of lead on some zippered back packs and pencil pouches,” he said.

“Young children may expose themselves to toxic lead when they zip up their bags, pouches and uniforms,” he pointed out.

“Sooner or later, the coatings of the pullers and sliders will come off with frequent use and get ingested by kids when they put their fingers in their mouths,” he stated.

“As lead-free zippers are readily available in the market, we hope that uniform and bag makers will make it a point to use high quality zippers that pose no lead hazard.  Perhaps the education department should reiterate this point as well in their guidelines on student uniforms,” he added. 

According to the World Health Organization, “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.

“Children’s innate curiosity and their age-appropriate hand-to-mouth behaviour result in their mouthing and swallowing lead-containing or lead-coated objects, such as contaminated soil or dust and flakes of decaying lead-containing paint,” the WHO said.

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,” the WHO said.

Responding to the global and national push to eliminate lead paint, a major source of childhood lead exposure, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has issued Administrative Order 2013-24, which sets a phase-out deadline for leaded decorative paints by January 2017 and leaded industrial paints by January 2020.  

The said regulation also bans the use of lead in the production of toys and school supplies, among other non-allowable uses.



06 June 2016

Watchdog Finds Unregistered “Made in China” Aerosol Insecticides and Rat Glue Traps in Divisoria and Quiapo

A watch group promoting consumer and environmental health warned the public against buying and using household insect killers and sticky rodent traps that have not undergone official safety and efficacy evaluation.

The EcoWaste Coalition echoed the warning made by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) last May 26 after the group found 10 aerosol insecticides and 11 rat glue traps -- unregistered and “made in China” -- that are sold by retailers in Divisoria and Quiapo, Manila.

To support the FDA’s latest move to rid the market of unregistered household pesticides, the group conducted its own market monitoring on June 1 and reported its findings to the FDA on June 2.

“Smuggled ‘made in China’ aerosol insect killers and adhesive rat traps are all over the bargain streets and malls in Quiapo and Divisoria,” observed Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“Consumers are lured into buying these contraband products because of their affordability, attractive packaging and claims of being non-toxic and safe,” he added .

The aerosol insecticides, which are packaged in colorful and tall 750 ml canisters, are sold from P75 to P80 each, while the rat traps are sold from P20 to P40 each.

“Consumers should be cautious in patronizing these products as they have not undergone the required registration with the FDA,” Dizon pointed out. 

FDA Advisory No. 2016-047 warned: “These products have not been evaluated by the FDA to ensure their safety and efficacy.  Such products are harmful, toxic and may pose imminent danger to human and animal health.” 

“Counterfeit products may have less active ingredients than the original version or they may contain low quality or possibly more toxic active ingredients,” the FDA warned.

Through the said advisory, the FDA advised the public not to purchase and use Angel/King Ma and Jin Ma aerosol insecticides; Ba Ma, Bao Ma and Jin Ma mosquito coils; Colarato, Green Leaf and Mouse glue traps; and Happy Dear Pearl naphthalene balls.

“The manufacture, importation, exportation, distribution, sale, offer for sale, transportation, promotion and/or advertisement of these products are in direct violation of Republic Act 9711 (the Food and Drugs Administration Act of 2009),” the agency said.

Among the 10 unregistered aerosol insecticides on sale in the market as reported by the EcoWaste Coalition to the FDA include: Bidia, Big BIB Bal,  Boclliai, Brother (lavender), Brother (sampaguita), Mega Dream, Power Boss, Qiangxiao, Tangshi and Txaksi.

Among the 11 unregistered mouse and rat adhesive traps that the group also reported to the FDA are: Edge Leaf, Green Palm Tree Mouse & Rat Glue Snare, Hercules Mouse Glue Board,  Mouse,  Mouseland, Shenlida,   Sugar Mouse, Tomcat (three variants),  and Wawang Sun Universe.

The EcoWaste Coalition urged the FDA to issue another advisory to reiterate and expand the list of banned household and urban pesticides being sold in the market.

To curb the proliferation of such contrabands, the group also suggested to the FDA to conduct law enforcement operations in popular bargain market hubs in coordination with local health and police authorities.



04 June 2016

Watchdog Urges Paint Companies to Go Lead-Free after Repainting School Armchairs Coated with Highly Leaded Paints

Companies making oil-based paint should speed up their shift to non-lead paint production and assure consumers that their products are safe to use in places where children live, learn and play.

The EcoWaste Coalition reiterated its call for lead-free paints after repainting armchairs that were freshly coated with paints containing dangerous levels of lead during this week’s Brigada Eskwela.

On Friday, June 3, members of the EcoWaste Coalition went to Isabelo de los Reyes Elementary School in Tondo, Manila to repaint 50 armchairs painted with a lead-containing orange enamel paint. 

Using  a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, the group detected lead reaching 91,300 parts per million (ppm) in the orange enamel paint, way above  the 90 ppm maximum limit under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24, also known as the Chemical  Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds.

Another yellow enamel paint used in some other armchairs was also found to contain high concentrations of lead at 65,100 ppm.  

Laboratory tests commissioned by the EcoWaste Coalition in 2012 and 2014 as part of its campaign to eliminate lead paint found dangerously high concentrations of lead in orange and yellow paints of the said enamel paint with one sample having 156,000 ppm total lead.

“We are deeply upset by the continued production and sale of highly leaded paints that are finding their way into the school system in breach of the government’s lead-free paint policy in schools,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Department of Education Memorandum No. 85, Series of 2016 issued last May 24 directed schools to use lead-free paints “at all times,” particularly during the Brigada Eskwela activities.

“Repainting the armchairs with a lead-free paint, we admit, is a temporary remedy.  Sooner or later, the paint coatings, including the leaded paint underneath, will come off and create a lead hazard requiring immediate attention,” he said.

“We therefore urge the national and local government agencies to undertake enduring and holistic interventions that will protect our school children as well as their teachers against lead exposure,” he added.

DepEd, for instance, should conduct an inventory of paints used in this year’s Brigada Eskwela and evaluate the effectiveness of implementation of the department’s lead-free paint directive in the country’s public schools.

Children’s developing brains are permanently damaged by exposure to lead,  the EcoWaste Coalition said, stressing that even at very low exposures, lead can cause learning disabilities, lower IQ, inattentiveness, poor impulse control and aggressive behaviour.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned “there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe.”
“With only few months remaining before the scheduled phase-out of leaded architectural, decorative and household paints on January 1, 2017, we appeal to paint manufacturers to stop producing lead-added paints and for paint stores not to stock up on such paints,” he emphasized.

The EcoWaste Coalition likewise urged paint makers to participate in a third party certification program that will verify and certify that their products are safe from lead and lead compounds.

“This will help consumers identify safer paints and guide them in making informed choices that will minimize exposures to toxic lead among children and adults, including the painters,” the group said.




01 June 2016

LGUs Urged to Assist Schools in Managing Mercury-Containing Lamp Waste

With the yearly Brigada Eskwela in full swing, a waste and pollution watch group requested city and municipal governments to assist schools under their jurisdiction in managing busted mercury-containing fluorescent lamps.

The EcoWaste Coalition aired the urgent request after finding spent fluorescent lamps improperly disposed of in some school dumpsters as the clean-up drive enters its third day.  

“Spent lamps should not be hastily thrown in dumpsters to protect the glass tubing from breaking and releasing its mercury content in vapor form into the surroundings,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“It is obvious from our monitoring that our public schools do not have the capacity to deal with waste of hazardous nature such as broken or busted fluorescent lamps containing mercury,” he pointed out.

“It is therefore important for local authorities to step in and help our schools by separately collecting their spent lamps for environmentally sound recycling in government-accredited hazardous waste treatment facilities,” he said.

“Local government units should partner with lighting companies or with the lighting industry association to seek practical ways of preventing lamp waste from polluting the environment with mercury,” he added. 

In the meantime, the EcoWaste Coalition advised school principals, teachers and janitorial staff to ensure that spent compact, circular and linear fluorescent lamps are labelled and safely wrapped for temporary storage, stressing that the storeroom should be out of children’s reach and away from elements and human traffic.

Unknown to many, the reckless disposal of fluorescent lamp in bins or dumpsters will cause their fragile glass tubing to break or explode, exposing school janitors, waste collectors and the public to mercury, a potent neurotoxin.

Citing information from the government-published “Guidebook on the Management of Mercury-Containing Lamp Wastes,” the group warned that “when mercury-containing lamps are broken, compacted, crushed, or disposed of improperly, mercury is released into the air, water and land, posing significant threat to people and the environment.” 

According to the said guidebook, “mercury and its compounds are highly toxic… even low level exposure to mercury has caused serious health effects that including neurological damage, reproductive system damage, behavioral problems and learning disabilities.” 

To prevent the further generation of mercury-containing lamp waste, the EcoWaste Coalition encouraged schools to consider investing in energy-efficient, but mercury-free lighting substitutes such as light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs.