30 October 2016

Coastal Cleanup and Waste Audit Held in Olongapo City in Honor of St. Francis of Assisi

Over 120 parishioners, seminarians and environmental volunteers conducted a coastal cleanup drive in Olongapo City to culminate the month St. Francis of Assisi, the Patron Saint of Ecology.

Held today,  October 30, at the Parola (Lighthouse) in Barangay Kalaklan, Olongapo City, the pro-environment event was initiated to create awareness on the impact of open dumping in waterways, clean up rivers and coastal areas as far as possible and motivate the locals to stop illegal dumping activities.

“We have come here today to bear witness to the trashing of our environment and to affirm our duty to restore and protect it.  By cleaning up the Parola area, we renew our responsibility to care for the creation like what St. Francis has taught us,” said Rev. Fr. Kenneth Masong of the St. Columban Parish.

St. Francis of Assisi was proclaimed patron of ecology in 1979 by then Pope John Paul II for being “an example of genuine and deep respect for the integrity of creation.”

For his part Rev. Fr. Cris Robles Pine, President and Dean of the Our Lady of the Angels Seminary "urged the faithful to heed the 'cry of the earth' as Pope Francis exhorted in his landmark encyclical 'Laudato Si' and stop treating Mother Nature, her lands, rivers and oceans, as receptacles for the excesses of our throw-away culture."

Joining the community of St. Columban Parish in the cleanup drive were volunteers from the Franciscan Youth, Our Lady of the Angels Seminary, Alternative Learning Resource School-Philippines and the EcoWaste Coalition.

“The open dumping of garbage, an environmental crime, is not only illegal and irresponsible.  It’s also deadly, particularly for the aquatic creatures who bear the brunt of reckless waste disposal.  We kill marine animals every time we arbitrarily throw our discards from plastic bags to tiny candy wrappers and cigarette butts on the streets and waterways,” stated Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

Lucero cited the death of an endangered green sea turtle in Davao City last October 22 due to infection after ingesting at least 10 types of plastic materials that it mistakenly ate as food.

To understand the types of discards that are finding their way to the beach and to the Subic Bay, the group conducted an audit of the wastes collected from the cleanup drive.

Based on the waste audit, of the 242 kilos  of wastes collected along the shores of the Parola, 20.5% were rubber, 19.6% diapers, 16% plastic bags, 12.5% polystyrene materials, 7.7 % glass bottles, 6% composite packaging, 6% biodegradable discards, 4% metals, 4% plastic cups, 1.6% paper and 1.6% PET bottles.

To curb marine pollution, the cleanup participants urged Olongapo City residents and transients to minimize their waste size and observe ecological waste management at all times.

“Like St. Francis, let us show love and respect for all of God’s creation starting by not dumping our discards wherever we please.  It’s time to take to heart what is happening to our only nation and planet and to act to reverse the environmental destruction that is threatening the integrity of creation,” the groups said.


29 October 2016

Paint with Dangerous Lead Levels Widely Sold in All Developing Regions of the World

(Gotenburg, Sweden) Many decorative paints sold in over 40  low- and middle income countries contained dangerous levels of lead, sometimes in direct violation of national regulation, according to a new report released by IPEN today. The report, Global Lead Paint Report, brings together data from paint studies conducted since 2009 in 46  low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. The majority of these countries lack regulation limiting the lead content of paint.

“While major producers have begun removing lead from their products in a number of developing countries in Asia, there is an alarming amount of lead paint still sold in all developing regions of the world. It is really quite shocking that a parent who paints their child’s nursery a sunny yellow or someone who runs a colorfully painted child care center may be, through no fault of their own, exposing a child to permanent brain damage caused by lead exposure,” said Dr. Sara Brosche, Project Manager, IPEN Lead Paint Elimination Campaign. 

IPEN released its Global Lead Paint Report as a part of worldwide activities during the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action (ILPPWA), October 23 -29, 2016, co-led by United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition to the report, IPEN participating organizations also released new reports on lead in paint in nine countries and conducted lead awareness activities in more than 25 countries.

In a statement prepared for this year’s ILPPWA, Dr. Maria Neira Director of the Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health for the World Health Organization (WHO) said: “Exposure to lead poses a significant hazard to human health, especially for children. . .There is no need to add lead to paint - safer alternative chemicals can be used. The best way to ensure the availability of lead-safe paint is for countries to put in place laws, regulations or mandatory standards that prohibit the manufacture, import, export, sale or use of lead paint.”

The report documents that progress has been made since 2009 in eliminating lead paint:
· Data on lead in paint is now available in 46 countries, with 15 additional studies scheduled for release by IPEN and NGO partners in 2016.
· Binding regulatory controls limiting the lead content of paint have been enacted or are pending in 6 Asian countries and 4 African countries. The East African Community (EAC) has adopted mandatory standards restricting the use of lead in paint in its five member states. 
· The International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action generated activities in nearly 90 cities in 30 countries in 2015.
· Akzo Nobel, the world’s second largest paint producer has announced that it had removed lead from all its paint product lines. The world’s largest paint producer, PPG, announced it had removed leaded ingredients from all its consumer paint brands and products in all countries and will completely phase out the use of lead in its products by 2020. In addition, major Asian paint producers in a number of countries have begun eliminating lead from their paint products.
· Three major manufacturers (Boysen, Davies in the Philippines and Multilac in Sri Lanka) have been certified under the world’s first certification program, Lead Safe Paint®.

The report makes several recommendations to achieve the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint’s (GAELP) target date of 2020 for all countries having adopted legally binding laws, regulations, standards and/or procedures to control the production, import, sale and use of lead paints. GAELP is co-hosted by WHO and UNEP.

More country-level data on lead paint is needed. Data on the presence (or absence) of lead paints on the market is currently only available in 23 of the 126 countries that lack regulatory controls on lead paint.  Without data it is hard for government officials to establish regulatory controls or to ask paint manufacturers to voluntarily remove lead from their paints. 

More governments should begin developing lead paint regulations. Government agencies can begin now to establish multi-stakeholder consultations to address how lead paint controls will be formulated and the timeline for their entry into force. Regulations should include a 90 ppm total lead limit for all paints as well as budgets and protocols for monitoring and enforcement.

Paint manufacturers, paint industry trade associations and paint ingredient vendors should take voluntary action immediately to eliminate lead from all paints, with decorative and other paints used in and around homes and schools as a priority. Ethical manufacturers need not wait for government controls before they act. National, regional and international paint industry trade associations should send clear and strong signals to their members that now is the time to end all manufacture and sale of lead paints.

Donors should make significant new resources available for global lead paint elimination. Additional resources are needed for the collection of lead paint data and to assist national governments in developing and implementing lead paint standards and regulation.

Lead in household paints has been regulated in most highly industrial countries for more than 40 years. The United States and Canada recently established a regulatory limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) lead in response to growing concerns that even low-level lead exposures are harmful to children. Some other countries have established regulatory limits of lead in paint at 600 ppm lead.

Lead in paint is a problem because painted surfaces deteriorate with time and when disturbed. If there is lead in the paint, the lead then contaminates household dust and soils surrounding the home. Children ingest lead from dusts and soils during normal hand to mouth behavior. Damage to children’s intelligence and mental development occurs, even when there are no obvious or clinical signs of lead poisoning. Recent WHO guidelines indicate that there is no known acceptable lead exposure level for children.[1]  

When children are exposed to lead, this tends to decrease their performance in school and their lifelong productivity as part of the national labor force. A recent study investigated the economic impact of childhood lead exposure on national economies and estimated a total cumulative loss of $977 billion international dollars per year for all low and middle income countries.[2] The estimated economic loss in Africa is $134.7 or 4.03% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).


IPEN. IPEN is a leading global organization of 700 non-governmental organizations from 116 countries working to protect human health and the environment from harms caused by toxic chemical exposure.

[1] Childhood Lead Poisoning, World Health Organization, 2010, Pages 31-2; http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/leadguidance.pdf and Blood Levels in Children Aged 1-5 Years – United States, 1999-2010, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6213a3.htm?s_cid=mm6213a3_w  See also: UNEP Report: Lead in Enamel Decorative Paints; National Paint Testing Results: A Nine Country Study, Section 3. Lead Exposure and its Health Effects.
[2] Economic Costs of Childhood Lead Exposure in Low­ and Middle­ Income Countries, by Teresa M. Attina and Leonardo Trasande: Environmental Health Perspectives; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1206424; http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1206424/ . 

Watch Group Pushes Proper Waste Management in Cemeteries for Mosquito Control

A waste and pollution watchdog urged cemetery administrators and the general public to observe ecological waste management to help cut mosquito breeding sites and fight the dreaded  Zika virus.

The EcoWaste Coalition’s plea for proper management of discards followed the Department of Health’s announcement on Friday of 19 confirmed cases of Zika virus infection in the country: three from the National Capital Region, three from Calabarzon, one from Central Visayas and 12 from Western Visayas.

The group has expressed concern that reckless waste management in cemeteries before, during and after the Undas may create breeding places for Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which can transmit Zika virus as well as chikungunya and dengue.

“If we are not cautious on how we handle our discards, particularly used food, water and flower containers, our cemeteries may end up becoming giant breeding sites for these mosquitoes,” warned Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Improperly disposed of containers may collect rainwater that will later become stagnant, providing a place where mosquitoes can lay their eggs,” she explained.

Health authorities have identified larval habitats for these disease carrying mosquitoes, including flower pots, plates under potted plants, cemetery vases, tin cans and other artificial or natural water containers.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “applying many of the basic principles (of solid waste management) can contribute substantially to reducing Aedes aegypti larval habitats,” adding that “the basic rule of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ is highly applicable.”

“Proper storage, collection and disposal of waste are essential for protecting public health,” the WHO emphasized.

“Efforts to reduce solid waste should be directed against discarded or non-essential containers, particularly if they have been identified in the community as important mosquito-producing containers,” it said.

To prevent and reduce the generation of trash in cemeteries, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to consider the following dos and don’t’s:

1.  Do put your “baon” in reusable containers and bring them home after use.
2.  Do bring your own water to avoid buying bottled water or drinks in disposable cups and plastics.
3.  Do use reusable carry bags instead of single-use plastic bags.
4.  Do not bring too much food and drinks more than what you can consume.
5.  Do not leave leftovers, used containers and other discards in the cemetery.
6.  Do not burn discards; bring them with you for recycling or proper disposal.

Aside from observing ecological waste management for mosquito control, the EcoWaste Coalition also advised the public to only use mosquito repellent products that have undergone evaluation by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) for safety, efficacy and quality.

Citing information from a recently published FDA booklet, the group urged the public to consider the following safety tips from the agency when buying and using mosquito repellent products:  

1. Use only FDA-registered mosquito repellent products.

2. Read the label.

-  Before using any mosquito repellent product, read the label carefully and completely.
-  Understand and follow the directions or instructions for use found on the packaging label.
-  Do not use the product for other purposes apart from their intended ones.
-  Take note of the product’s expiration date. 
-  Take note of the precautionary statements that might be stated on the packaging label as well as the first-aid treatments in case of accidents

3. Take necessary precautions when using mosquito repellent products.

-  Consumers are advised to use mosquito repellent products responsibly. FDA-registered mosquito repellent products, though proven to be safe under normal forseeable conditions of use, still contain active ingredients that can be hazardous to health when mishandled.
-  Do not use the product anywhere near food to prevent food contamination that might lead to oral ingestion of the product.
-  Do not apply near the eyes and mouth, and avoid spraying directly into face.
-  Take note if there is a warning on flammability especially for pressurized spray products. In these cases, do not use the product near open flames.
-  Store the product according to the storage directions found on the label.
-  Do not allow children to handle the products. Since children exhibit the habit of putting things or their own hands in their mouth, it is recommended that mosquito repellent products be stored in places where children cannot reach them.

4. Report any adverse reaction experienced to the retailer where the product was bought, to the local company reflected on the label or to the FDA.



27 October 2016

Watch Group Welcomes Kiddie Chair Manufacturer's Shift to Lead Safe Paint (Toxic Children's Chairs Now Lead-Free)

Children's chairs with dangerous levels of lead as per laboratory tests conducted in 2013 are now found to be lead-free.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit watch group tracking toxic chemicals in products and wastes, made this pleasant discovery after screening new metal framed kiddie chairs with SpongeBob SquarePants and Winnie the Pooh designs.

As part of the group’s observance of the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action,  the group bought chairs costing P125 to P180 each from general merchandise stores located in Monumento, Caloocan City, Quiapo, Manila City and Libertad, Pasay City.  

The chairs were subsequently screened for lead, a toxic substance used as pigment, drier or anti-corrosive agent in paint formulations, using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XFF) device.

“We are delighted to find out that these erstwhile lead-tainted kiddie chairs are now decorated with lead-safe paint.  It’s a clear proof that manufacturers of toys and childcare articles are in a position to switch to paint with no added lead that is safe for kids,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“But these children’s chairs still lack labeling information and the required certificate of product notification for toys and childcare articles from the health authorities,” he clarified. 

Laboratory tests commissioned by the EcoWaste Coalition in 2013 showed that seven of the nine samples of kiddie chairs had lead above 90 parts per million (ppm), the regulatory limit for lead in paint under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24.

The top two samples with dangerous concentrations of lead were the chair with SpongeBob SquarePants design with 20,680 ppm, followed by the one with a Winnie the Pooh design with 18,831 ppm.

Based on XRF screening conducted yesterday, identical samples of the said kiddie chairs had no detectable lead.

However, a third sample - a folding kiddie chair with a flower-like character design – was found to contain 8,782 ppm of lead.

“As this lead painted chair is used, damaged or chip with time, the lead can be released in dust that children can swallow or breathe in.  Kids tend to put their hands as well as objects in their mouths, which raises their chances of ingesting lead-containing dust and even paint chips that may  have higher lead content,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“As lead is most harmful to young children even at low levels of exposures, we urge manufacturers, importers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers of toys and other childcare articles to use lead-safe paint at all times,” he said.

Lead-containing paints for architectural, decorative and household uses are to be phase-out from the market by December 31, 2016 as per DENR A.O. 2013-24.

“While the ban will only take effect after December 31, we ask all business establishments, especially those that cater to budget-conscious consumers, not to offer their customers with lead-contaminated toys and related products,” appealed Dizon.

“We need not wait for the regulation to take effect before we do something that will protect our children from the health-damaging effects of lead exposure.  Nothing will justify poisoning innocent children with lead,” Dizon said.

Lead, a hazardous substance, can harm the brain and the central nervous, as well as the blood systems, the kidneys and the bones.  Lead exposure is associated with reduced intelligence, poorer school performance, inattentiveness, hyperactivity, impulsive and violent behavior, juvenile delinquency and incarceration

“Toys and related products,” as clarified in the Environmental Management Bureau’s Memorandum Circular 2016-10 issued on August 28, 2016, include home furnishings and fixtures such as cribs, chairs, tables, shelves, walkers, strollers, beds, decorative materials and embellishments for children’s use.  

Also included in this product category are indoor and outdoor playground equipment, board games intended for children, art materials, science kits and crafts, children’s books and reference materials, children’s accessories, electronic gadgets and other children’s products.



25 October 2016

Environmental Watch Group Says: “Respect the Cemetery. It’s Not Your Trash Can”

A waste and pollution watch group today appealed to all Filipinos going to the cemeteries not to turn the hallowed resting places of their deceased relatives and friends into garbage dumps.

At a public information and cleanup drive for a litter-free “Undas” at the Manila North Cemetery, the EcoWaste Coalition urged cemetery goers to show genuine respect for the dead by keeping the cemetery grounds clean.

Joining the EcoWaste Coalition were the representatives of the Manila North Cemetery Administration, Manila's Department of Public Services , Ecology Ministry of the Parish of San Roque de Manila, Metro Manila Development Authority and Tzu Chi Foundation.

“Year in and year out, people visiting the graves of their dearly departed ones leave tons of garbage in both public and private cemeteries as if this is part of the tradition of remembering those who have passed on,” said Ochie Tolentino, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Visitors simply throw leftover meals, food wrappers, drinking cups, soiled papers, cigarette butts and other discards anywhere they please,” she noted.

“Littering disrespects the dead as well as the living.  This bad habit must stop,” she said.

To drive home the message that littering in cemeteries and elsewhere is unacceptable, members of the group unfurled a white banner at the entrance of Manila North Cemetery that reads: “Kung hindi mo kayang linisin ang kapaligiran,huwag mo na lang dumihan.” 

They also held placards that say: “Respect the cemetery.  It’s not your trash can.”
To emphasize their anti-littering plea,  the Malaya youth theater group presented a dance skit inspired by the song “Basura.”

They likewise performed the viral hit “Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen" song, changing its lyrics to promote the use of reusable bags instead of plastic bags, and the use of lead safe paint in refurbishing tombs.

Afterwards, the group went to a gravesite and spruced up the place without burning trash and without using lead-containing paint.

To prevent a repeat of the annual trashing of cemeteries during “Undas,” the EcoWaste Coalition encouraged visitors to observe the following dos and don’ts:

1.  Do put your “baon” in reusable containers and bring them home after use.
2.  Do bring your own water to avoid buying bottled water or drinks in disposable cups and plastics.
3.  Do use reusable carry bags instead of single-use plastic bags.
4.  Do not bring too much food and drinks more than what you can consume.
5.  Do not leave leftovers, used containers and other discards in the cemetery.
6.  Do not burn discards; bring them with you for recycling or proper disposal.

“As abandoned food, water and flower containers can serve as breeding ground for chikugunya, dengue and zika carrying mosquitoes, we strongly urge visitors not to leave them in cemeteries ,” Tolentino said.

Health authorities have identified larval habitats for these disease carrying mosquitoes, including flower pots, plates under potted plants, cemetery vases, tin cans and other artificial or natural water containers.

“As cemeteries, especially on November 1, are filled with smoke from candle burning, we appeal to smokers not to add to the pollution by smoking,  Please be considerate to young children, old people, pregnant women and others around you,” Tolentino further said.

The group also urged enterprising vendors to mind their garbage and to help in maintaining the cleanliness within and outside the cemetery premises.


23 October 2016

Philippines Marks Impending Phase-Out of Lead-Containing Paints on December 31, 2016 with Zombie Run

Kids and adults for a lead-safe future today assembled in Quezon City for a “Zombie Run” to mark the 10-week countdown to the December 31 phase-out deadline for lead-containing architectural, decorative and household (ADH) paints in the Philippines.

The activity was part of the worldwide commemoration of the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action (ILPPWA), October 23 -29, 2016, co-led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

“With the deadline for the removal of lead-added ADH paints just 10 weeks away, we call upon all stakeholders, particularly paint manufacturers, distributors, sellers and consumers, to rally behind this historic target that will remove a common source of lead exposure in our children’s environment,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“After a three-year phase-out period that began in 2013, paint companies should have completed or nearly completed by now their switch to non-lead  production for the ADH segment of their product line,” she added.

“The paint industry represented by the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers and the government led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources are one with the civil society in guaranteeing that the phase-out deadline is faithfully enforced,” she acknowledged.  

As the mandatory phase-out for lead-containing ADH paints has entered crunch time, the EcoWaste Coalition held the “Zombie Run” at the Quezon Memorial Circle to emphasize the urgency of abiding by the fast-approaching deadline.

Inspired by the “Walking Dead” TV series, youths dressed up as toxic Zombies performed a “Walking Lead” number to the tune of the all-time hit “Thriller” as kids and their parents ran for their health and safety.

At the finish line, the toxic lead Zombies dropped dead to signify that the production, distribution, sale and use of ADH paints in the Philippines is over as spectators clapped in jubilation.

Among the groups who took part were the Check Skill Crew, Piglas Kababaihan at Kabataan, Malaya, ROTCHNA Day Care Center and other EcoWaste partners.

Sara Brosche, Global Lead Paint Elimination Project Manager of IPEN, an international civil society network promoting safe chemicals policies and practices that includes the EcoWaste Coalition, noted  that “children – especially those under 6 years of age – ingest or inhale lead through exposure to dust or soil contaminated with lead-based paint and normal hand-to-mouth behavior or when they chew on toys, household furniture or other articles painted with lead paint.  It is therefore important to remove sources of lead in children’s environment such as ADH paints.”  

The drive to ensure industrial compliance to eliminate lead paints as directed by the DENR Administrative Order 2013-24 has garnered support from some of the nation’s influential leaders.

Through separate messages sent to the EcoWaste Coalition, Vice-President Leni Robredo, Senator Risa Hontiveros and Representative Angelina Tan expressed support for the concerted effort towards non-lead paints for children’s health.

Vice President Leni Robredo through a message sent to the group said: “We trust that as this event progresses, more will be made aware of the perils of lead-containing paint and the industry leaders will make effort to stay away from such hazardous material.”

Sen. Hontiveros, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, urged paint companies to make certain that lead-containing ADH paints are taken off store shelves on or before the phase-out deadline.  “This will require paint companies to roll out a well-communicated and systematic system for retrieving such products to ensure that these are not sold at bargain prices, donated to homes, schools and marginalized sectors or unsafely disposed of.”

“Also, I appeal to paint manufacturers to have their paint products independently certifies as lead-safe via a third party certification body to help consumers distinguish between compliant and non-compliant products and avoid lead paint hazards,” the senator added.

Rep. Tan, who chairs the Committee on Health of the House of Representatives, said “endeavors to heighten public awareness on the health hazards of lead need to be sustained and scaled up to prevent causing further damage to health of the next generation.”

In a  statement prepared for this year’s ILPPWA, Dr Maria Neira Director of the Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health for the World Health Organization (WHO) said: “Exposure to lead poses a significant hazard to human health, especially for children. . . There is no need to add lead to paint - safer alternative chemicals can be used.”

“The best way to ensure the availability of lead-safe paint is for countries to put in place laws, regulations or mandatory standards that prohibit the manufacture, import, export, sale or use of lead paint,” the WHO official said.


22 October 2016

Government and Non-Government Organizations to Mark Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

Government and non-government organizations are observing this year’s International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action with activities geared at minimizing, if not eliminating, preventable sources of human exposure to toxic lead.

First held in 2013, the Week of Action, spearheaded by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Health Organization, is supported by partners in the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint, including the US Environmental Protection Agency and IPEN (a civil society network for a toxics-free future).

The observance of the Week of Action in the Philippines began yesterday, October 21, at the “Kamayan para sa Kalikasan” Forum organized by the Green Convergence  at Kamayan Restaurant in Mandaluyong City that highlighted the concerted efforts to phase out lead-containing architectural, decorative and household (ADH) paints by December 31, 2016 in line with Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24.

Comprising the panelists were government, industry and civil society leaders representing the key sectors behind the country’s ongoing drive to eliminate lead paint, including Emmanuelita Mendoza of  the DENR - Environmental Management Bureau, Vergel Dyoco o f the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers and Manny Calonzo of the toxics watch group EcoWaste Coalition. 

Tomorrow, October 23, the EcoWaste Coalition and its partner community and youth groups will hold a “Zombie Run” at Quezon Memorial Circle to dramatize the need to protect vulnerable groups, particularly children, from lead paint hazards, as well as to press of industry compliance to the looming phase-out deadline for leaded ADH paints.

On October 28, the DENR-EMB through its Environmental Education and Information Division  will conduct an orientation seminar on Lead Poisoning Prevention that is expected to draw attendees from the academe, non-government organizations and civil society groups.

The said seminar will discuss the dangers of lead and lead compounds, which are still prevalent in many paint products today, and the steps being undertaken by the government to address such threats to safeguard public health and the environment.

“Exposure to lead poses a significant hazard to human health, especially for children. The health effects can have a lifelong impact and include damage to body organs, behavioural problems, and impairment to mental and physical development.  WHO lists lead among the top ten chemicals of public health concern, and all countries should take initiatives to control its use,” said Dr. Maria Neira, Director of the Department of Public Health, WHO.

“Lead paint, particularly when used in the home, in schools and on toys, is an important source of lead exposure for children. We know that lead poisoning is entirely preventable,” the WHO official said in a special statement released for the Week of Action.

The International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action this year will be commemorated from October 23 to 29.


21 October 2016

Toy Safety Watch Group Cautions Children vs. Hazards in Some Halloween Items

A non-profit health and safety advocacy group has cautioned the public against potential hazards in some Halloween items as kids and adults get ready for spooky fun.

As part of its toy safety campaign, the EcoWaste Coalition today warned consumers that some popular play things may pose chemical, choking, fire and laceration hazards that can spoil the Halloween fun.

“As the Halloween fad catches on in urban neighborhoods, party and event goers, especially young children, need to exercise precaution in choosing their costumes and toys as many of them have not passed through the required verification procedures by the health authorities,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“Companies are required to apply for license to operate and product notification before placing toys and childcare articles (TCCA) in the market.  Unfortunately, many Halloween toys being sold in discount shops where many consumers go have no valid TCCA product notification,” he said.

"With the proliferation of toys in the market, parents need to pay equal attention to both the price and quality of the toys they buy for their kids. As not all toys have undergone and passed safety tests, parents should always be on the lookout for hidden dangers in some toys, such as choking and chemical hazards, that can jeopardize the health and well-being of their children," said Dr. Erle Castillo, a consultant of UP-Philippine General Hospital on Family Medicine and UP-College of Medicine on Emergency Medicine.

Among the items purchased were scary masks, devil headbands, pumpkin and skull pails, imitation weapons, and various gory Halloween accessories from fake blood to “knife thru head.”

Out of the 115 items bought, 35 have zero product labeling information.  Of the 80 items that provided varying degrees of labeling information, only one (a “Glow in the Dark” devil sickle) indicated the name and contact details of the manufacturer or distributor and its license to operate (LTO) number, the product’s model number, age grade and usage instruction, and relevant cautionary statements.

Based on the group’s assessment, some of the Halloween toys it procured are not safe for children to play with.  

Here are some examples of Halloween  toys found by the group and why such toys may present chemical, choking, fire and laceration hazards to young users:

1.  CHEMICAL HAZARD: Creepy insect toys may be coated with lead-containing paint and pose chemical risk to their young users.  For instance, the EcoWaste Coalition detected  toxic lead in the range of 139 to 481 parts per million (ppm) in 11 out of 32 toy insects screened using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence device. 

2.  CHOKING HAZARD: Some Halloween costume accessories contain small parts that kids may ingest and cause choking and suffocation.  For example, button batteries in devil headbands and other light up toys can come loose and get swallowed by a child.

3.  FIRE HAZARD.  Witch hats and horrific masks with hair are a fire risk because of their high flammability.  None of the six hats and masks with hair provided fire hazard warning.

4.  LACERATION HAZARD.  Toy axes, knives and swords can have sharp edges that can damage or injure a child’s sensitive skin.

The group also expressed concern about fake blood as the liquid may contain harmful bacteria or substances, may burn the skin and maybe mistaken as foodstuff.

The group likewise conveyed its concern over the sale of unregistered face paints in the market, which may be contaminated with lead, cadmium and other chemicals of concern.

As per RA 3720 or the Food, Drugs and Devices and Cosmetics Act, as amended by RA 9711 or the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) Act, companies intending to manufacture, import, export, distribute, sell, offer for sale, transfer, promote and advertise TCCA products must apply and secure from the FDA an LTO and 2. TCCA product notifications.



Latest FDA advisory on toys:

17 October 2016

EcoWaste Coalition Urges Public to Watch Out for Baby Wipes Containing Restricted Preservative

A non-profit watch group on harmful chemicals in products and wastes today urged consumers of wet wipes, especially those used for babies, to watch out for products containing a restricted preservative. 

The EcoWaste Coalition observed that many baby wipes and facial cleansing wipes on sale in sidewalks and discount stores are not duly registered with the health authorities and some contain iodopropynyl butylcarbamate (IPBC), which is prohibited in products intended for children under three years old under the ASEAN and European Cosmetic Directives.

A market surveillance conducted by the group between August 28 to October 12, 2016 showed that at least 30  brands of baby wipes and cleansing wipes being sold in the market for as low as P15 are not notified or registered with the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).

“This is a cause for concern as these products may contain banned or restricted substances like IPBC that may cause health risk, especially for babies, who are prone to skin allergic reactions,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

The group is likewise concerned that the arbitrary disposal of wet wipes used to clean baby’s bottom, face and nose, remove make-up or keep oily skin in check may be contributing to environmental pollution.

“Carelessly thrown wipes may clog up sewerage systems and end up in canals and rivers and finally into the oceans where wipes can harm marine life,” he added. 

Governments in Europe, the EcoWaste Coalition said, have taken action against IPBC-containing wet wipes marketed for kids under three years of age because these products pose “chemical risk.”

From 2013 to date, public health authorities in the Czech Republic, Finland, Iceland, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden banned 19 types of wet wipes for containing IPBC and other preservatives of concern.

In explaining the withdrawal of IPBC-containing wet wipes, the Czech Republic, for instance, stated that “IPBC may penetrate the skin of the infant and may have an adverse effect of the function of the thyroid gland.”

In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health in 2011 warned that baby wipes containing IPBC “may pose a public health risk because of their potential sensitizing and allergenic effects.”

As a precaution against potential harm to health, the group advised consumers not to patronize wet wipes containing IPBC and to consult the FDA website for products that are duly notified or registered with the agency.  

Be wary of imported wet wipes with no information about their foreign manufacturers and/or local distributors, the group added.

The EcoWaste Coalition has already notified the FDA about the results of its latest market surveillance.






13 October 2016

EcoWaste Coalition Backs Tougher Regulation to Cut Firecracker-Related Injury, Death and Pollution

A waste and pollution watch group has reiterated its call for a ban on firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices following a deadly blast at a firecracker store in Bocaue, Bulacan yesterday morning.

The EcoWaste Coalition, which has been conducting its “Iwas Paputoxic” drive since 2003 complementing the government’s annual campaign against firecrackers, warned that more people would perish and suffer this year if the “outdated” habit of igniting firecrackers and fireworks continue unabated.

“We appeal to the government to turn the citywide Davao ban on firecrackers and fireworks into a nationwide regulation that will safeguard human health and the environment from hazardous emissions and wastes, and protect the animals, too” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“It’s high time that the rule of law, particularly the enforcement of our environmental and animal welfare laws, prevails in our customary welcome of the New Year,” she added.

“It’s time to discard the dirty, dangerous and deadly New Year rites,” she further said.

The group expressed its hope that the Executive Order (EO) being drafted by the Department of Health as announced by Secretary Paulyn Ubial would totally ban the manufacture, distribution and sale of firecrackers for individual and household use, and illegalize their sale to the general public. 

“As most of the victims of firecracker-related injuries are young children, we also hope that the EO would impose tough penalties to vendors selling firecrackers to minors,” she said. 

The much-anticipated EO, the EcoWaste Coalition said, could contribute a great deal to turning our New Year festivities into a zero injury, zero emission and zero waste celebration or darn close.

The large-scale explosion of legal and illegal pyrotechnics to usher in New Year is not in agreement with the state policy of protecting human health and the environment as mirrored in several national laws, the group pointed out.

Among the laws that are blatantly disregarded during the celebrations include the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, as well as the Animal Welfare Act, the group said.  


12 October 2016

Watch Group Pushes for Toxic-Free Mugs without Lead, Cadmium and Other Hazardous Substances

 Coffee mugs with lead and/or cadmium on the colored design.
Coffee mugs with no detectable lead or cadmium on the colored design.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a watch group on toxic chemicals in products and wastes, urged coffee mug makers to use non-hazardous ingredients that will not pose risk to human health and the environment.

The group’s call for toxic-free mugs came after a chemical screening of 20 assorted mugs that detected high levels of lead and/or cadmium in 18 of the samples, including three of the four Duterte-inspired mugs.

The samples were obtained from various retail outlets in Davao, Makati and Manila Cities for P25 to P150 each.

“While the hazardous substances may or may not leach to the liquid, it is possible that these may be released through mechanical damage of the glazed or painted decorations,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“As a precaution against possible human exposure, beverage and food containers should be toxic-free and safe for both children and adults to use,” he pointed out

The non-detection of cadmium and lead in two samples, including one Duterte-inspired mug and one “It’s more fun in the Philippines” mug, provides evidence that mugs can be made without lead glaze or lead paint.

Dizon noted that toxic cadmium and lead may also be released into the environment when the mugs are broken and thrown in open dumps or landfills.

He likewise noted that the samples provided no precautionary warning that the glaze or paint used in the mugs contains lead and/or cadmium to warn off buyers.  There was no information too about the mug manufacturers.

With the help of a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, the group detected lead and cadmium, which are among the “top 10 chemicals of major public health concern,” according to the World Health Organization.  

The five samples with the highest levels of lead were:  “Polska Wojciech #1” (17,900 ppm), “DU30: #PartnerForChange” (10,500 ppm), “Happy Birthday” (9,492 ppm), “DU30: Change is Coming“ (9,269 ppm) and “M&M” (8,686 ppm).

For cadmium, the five samples with the highest levels were: “Hello Kitty” (4,700 ppm), “The Amazing Spiderman”  (3,302 ppm), “Happy Birthday” (3,092 ppm), “Nicecafe” (2,833 ppm) and “Bright and Early Coffee” (2,286 ppm).

According to the key scientific findings for lead published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),  “lead is a heavy metal that is toxic at very low exposure levels and has acute and chronic effects on human health. It is a multi-organ system toxicant that can cause neurological, cardiovascular, renal, gastrointestinal, haematological and reproductive effects.”

Cadmium, according to UNEP, “is a non-essential and toxic element for humans mainly affecting kidneys and the skeleton. It is also a carcinogen by inhalation. Cadmium is accumulated in bone and may serve as a source of exposure later in life.”





09 October 2016

Senator Pangilinan, Vice-Mayor Belmonte, Groups Give the Thumbs Up to Organic Urban Gardening for Healthier Cities (Groups Bat for Organic Urban Agriculture as Food, Waste and Climate Solution)

People from all walks of life today trooped to a special spot at Quezon Memorial Circle (QMC) in Quezon City to celebrate the Green Action Week, which is observed in over 30 countries across the globe from October 3 to 9.

To celebrate the week-long global campaign to promote sustainable consumption, the EcoWaste Coalition organized a fun-filled yet informative “Bahay Kubo in the City: Organic Urban Gardening for Healthy Communities” event at QMC.

It was held at the “Joy in Urban Farming,” an urban agriculture demonstration site within the QMC, which promotes organic farming and gardening to ensure a supply of nutritious and chemical free-vegetables for the children feeding program  of Quezon City’s schools.

The EcoWaste Coalition conducted the “barrio fiesta” advocacy event in partnership with the Office of Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte, the Office of Quezon City Councilor Beth Delarmente and the National Solid Waste Management Commission.

During the event, participants took part in traditional fiesta games with a “green” twist and listened to practical information shared by urban agriculture practitioners who demonstrated that the lack of space is not a hindrance for growing organic food crops, which can be grown even in recycled containers. 

“We have gathered here today to celebrate the benefits of growing organic vegetables in our homes, schools and workplaces to address our people’s right to adequate and safe food,” stated Ochie Tolentino, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“By taking part in the Green Action Week, we hope to inspire city residents to discover for themselves the benefits of organic gardening not only to improving maternal and child nourishment, but also to building greener homes and neighborhoods,” she added.

Sen. Francis”Kiko” Pangilinan, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, congratulated the EcoWaste Coalition and the event co-organizers for the initiative as he noted “we are a net importer of agriculture products which means that we are not producing enough food for all the 100 million plus Filipinos.”

“This is precisely why the United Nations sees urban agriculture as the solution to hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation that most urban areas in developing countries like the Philippines are experiencing,” the senator said in a message sent to the EcoWaste and read at the event.

Pangilinan has filed Senate Bill 988, “An Act Promoting Urban Agriculture and Vertical Farming,” to  institutionalize “urban agriculture” and “vertical farming” or indoor agriculture in skyscrapers and other modern buildings to help reduce urban poverty, ensure food security, and enhance urban environment management.

For her part, Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte said: “I warmly support the Green Action Week and its goal of generating greater community and consumer awareness and support for organic food, which is an important element in enhancing child nutrition while reducing dependence on synthetic pesticides.”

"The Quezon City Government is honored to partner with the EcoWaste Coalition in promoting ecological urban agriculture practices, including the composting of biodegradable discards, as this is beneficial for public health and the environment," she added.
Eli Ildenfonso, Executive Director of the National Solid Waste Management Commission, for his part, said: “We encourage our barangays and households to adopt appropriate composting practices that will recycle kitchen and garden waste into rich fertilizer and soil amendment for growing organic vegetables.”

Green Action Week is an initiative by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC), Sweden’s largest and oldest environmental organizations and a partner of  EcoWaste Coalition.  It is carried out in coordination with Consumers International, a federation of consumer groups.

Among the local groups who participated in this year’s observance of the Green Action Week at QMC were the Agri-Aqua Network International, Inc., Cavite Green Coalition, EARTH UST, La Sallian Community Development Center, Malaya, Miriam PEACE, Mother Earth Foundation, Office of Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, Piglas Kababaihan, Sarilaya, Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya, Zero Waste Recycling Movement, Barangay Project 6 officials and the Joy of Urban Farming Community Beneficiaries.