30 December 2016

Communities Urged to Go “Paputok-Free” to Prevent Firecracker Injuries, Fires and Fumes

In a last ditch effort to promote a safe and non-toxic New Year revelry, the EcoWaste Coalition today organized the “Iwas Paputoxic in Project 6” community parade against firecrackers in Quezon City.  

In collaboration with the Project 6 Barangay Council, the Office of Councilor Beth Delarmente and other local groups, the waste and pollution watch group pushed for the use of alternative noisemakers to herald the New Year that will not result in physical injuries, accidental fires and health-damaging emissions.

The parade, which brought together some 500 residents and members of the fire and police forces and other groups, hoped to keep Project 6 as a zero injury and zero fire community during the New Year festivities.  

“As 2016 is about to end, we urge our community leaders and their constituents to go all out for a harmless celebration of the New Year sans firecrackers,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Firecrackers are dangerous as hell,” she warned, pointing to the countless incidents of horrific burns, serious infections, ghastly wounds, amputated fingers, damaged eyes and fires resulting from firecracker explosions, as well as poisoning cases due to the ingestion of firecrackers such as watusi.

“For QC residents, we earnestly request them not to buy firecrackers and, with the money saved,  help the victims of recent fires in the city, particularly in Barangay Pinyahan that left some 1,000 families homeless this New Year,” she added.

Barangay Project 6 Chairperson Vicente Honorio Llamas V, for his part, said: “Firecrackers are not really cheap considering their health and environmental impacts and the costly property damage due to fires. Money spent for firecrackers are better spent for food and other household needs.”  

Pulmonologist Dr. Maricar Limpin stated that: “Setting off firecrackers will release toxic fumes filled with assorted environmental toxicants and obnoxious particles that irritates the respiratory system, especially among young children, the elderly and chronic asthma sufferers,” noting the rise of atmospheric pollutants such as particulate matters during the New Year revelries. Limpin is executive director of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines and member of the Board of Regents of the Philippine College of Physicians.

To drive their message home, hundreds of community members joined the parade with some participants brandishing mock giant firecrackers with the warning words “dangerous,” “deadly” and “dirty” written on them.

The participants also showed off various alternative noisemakers, including recycled maracas using empty pineapple juice cans, shakers from used plastic bottles with pebbles, and the all-time favorite torotot.  Others were seen having fun creating sounds from common kitchen utensils such as pots and pot lids.

Among the groups that took part in the community program for a firecracker-free New Year festivities were the Barangay Project 6 Lupon, Bureau of Fire Protection, Ernesto Rondon High School Students and Parent-Teacher Association Members, Red Cross Ernesto Rondon High School Chapter, Federation of Senior Citizens, Kariton Klasrum Group, Kiwanis Club, Knights of Columbus, Luntiang Kababaihan, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish Lay Ministers, Police Community Precinct Masambong Station 2, Pet Lovers Advocates of Project 6, Project 6 Basketball Association, Project 6 Dancers, Project 6 Elementary School SPTA, Project 6 Elementary School Boy/Girl Scouts, Project 6 Task Force Youth, Project 6 Tennis Club, Project 6 TESDA Group, Project 6 Waste Management Group, Rotary Club of North Edsa D3780, Tambuli Group, Trippers Philippines Group 2 and the 55-ers Sunday Club.

For a safe, non-toxic New Year's welcome, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to observe the following noes:

1. No blasting of firecrackers.
2.  No firing of guns.
3.  No polyvinyl chloride (PVC) boga.
4.  No burning of tires.
5.  No open burning of garbage.
6.  No lighting of sky lanterns.


28 December 2016

Animal Welfare and Environmental Health Groups Hold Pet-A-Thon to Persuade the Public to Do Away with Firecrackers

Animal welfare and environmental health groups today organized the first ever “Pet-A-Thon” versus firecrackers at Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City in a bid to convince the public not to lit up firecrackers to herald the New Year.  Some 50 dogs from the tiny chihuahua to the familiar Aspin (Asong Pinoy) to the humongous Alaskan malamute took part in the parade.

The Alaskan Malamute Club of the Philippines, Animal Kingdom Foundation (AKF), Better Dogs, Compassion and Responsibility for Animals (CARA Welfare Philippines), Combined Animal Rescue Endeavor (CARE), Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and the EcoWaste Coalition have joined forces to amplify the call for a firecracker-free and pollution-free New Year revelry.

“This walk for a cause starring our four-legged favorite canine and feline friends is a plea for human compassion from animals who suffer a lot from the ear-splitting sounds of firecrackers,” stated Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“With only few days left until we bid 2016 goodbye, we exhort all Filipinos, who are generally known as animal-loving people, to drop the dangerous, deadly and dirty habit of ushering in the New Year with firecrackers as these are injurious to humans, animals and the ecosystems at large,” she added.

“It is common knowledge that animals, particularly cats and dogs, are easily terrified of loud bangs from firecrackers.  Because of their acute sense of hearing, what is loud to us, humans, is deafening to them.  With the warlike detonation of firecrackers, it is not hard to imagine the terror that our furry friends have to go through, especially on New Year’s eve.  They tremble with fear while we enjoy the boisterous festivity,” said Anna Cabrera, Executive Director of PAWS, a group that seeks “to prevent cruelty, alleviate pain, fear and suffering in animals.” 

“Igniting firecrackers supposedly to drive away bad luck, by all indications, is cruel and traumatic to animals.  This horrific ordeal is not the way to reward dogs -- affectionately called as man’s best friend -- cats and other pets,” said Atty. Heidi Caguioa, legal counsel of AKF, which is in the forefront of the campaign against dog meat trade.

“New Year is sadly a very stressful time for our pets,” observed educator Eric Suguitan, a speaker for CARA Welfare Philippines, which envisions “an animal compassionate country where all cats and dogs have good homes.”  “Besides the ear-piercing noise pollution, bursting firecrackers can make them very nervous.  Canine and feline anxiety to flashing lights and loud noises can lead to loss of appetite, stomach upset and decreased sense of direction.”

CARE for its part called on local governments to pass ordinances banning fireworks in order to prevent deaths and injuries and to protect the health of humans and animals. Merci Ferrer, spokesperson for CARE, noted that “the physical and psychological harm is not only inflicted on humans and their animal companions but also for many stray dogs and cats that require our urgent attention, as well as wildlife.” 

AKF, CARA Welfare Philippines, CARE, PAWS and the EcoWaste Coalition believed that the adverse impact of firecrackers to the health and safety of animals provides another compelling reason why tougher regulations should be enforced to curb the senseless firecracker-related damage to life, limb, property and the environment at large.

To make the New Year’s revelry a less painful experience for cats and dogs, the groups urged pet owners to:

1. Persuade your family to make your home a “no firecracker” zone.

2. Politely tell your neighbors not to light or throw firecrackers near your home.

3. Exercise your pets during the days leading up to the New Year’s Eve and in the next morning when the festivities are over and the smoke has cleared.

4. Give your pets a physical outlet for their pent up energy due to arousal and stress. 

5. Manage the environment so it is as relaxing and less stressful for your pet.  

6. Provide your pet with a safe place to take temporary refuge during the noisy revelry.  

7. Close the windows, put the curtains down and play a relaxing music to neutralize the noise from the outside to help your pets feel secure.

8. Ensure your pet’s access to drinking water. Make your pet pee or poo.

9. Do not yell or laugh at your pet when she/he is cowering or shaking in fear. 

Also, the groups urged the public to keep shopping bags, cleaning solutions, tobacco products and holiday treats such as chocolate, fruit cake, nuts and alcoholic drinks to keep them out of pets’ reach to prevent potential choking, strangulation and poisoning hazards.


27 December 2016

Kids and Teens Reminded Not to Spend Christmas Cash Gifts on Firecrackers

A waste and pollution watchdog reminded the public, especially young children and teenagers, not to spend the Christmas gifts they have received to buy firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices.    

The EcoWaste Coalition, a civil society partner in  the ongoing drive by the Department of Health (DOH) towards an injury-free celebration, aired the appeal as the number of firecracker-related injuries climbs with the fast approaching New Year.

“We would like to again remind our kids and teens that firecrackers are not toys.  Please don’t be tempted to spend the money given by your godparents and others to buy banned piccolo and other firecrackers, which can put your lives in danger,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We address this appeal to kids and teens and their parents as most of the victims in last year’s revelry were young people,” she added.

According to the last DOH report, 500 of the 920 firecracker-related injuries involved children less than 14 years. 

The top fireworks that caused injuries were piccolo (42 percent), kwitis (11 percent), luces (6 percent) and 5-star (4 percent).  Unknown firecrackers accounted for 11 percent of the injuries recorded.

“We also appeal to all conscientious vendors not to sell firecrackers to kids and teens who are most prone to accidental injuries.  The life you save maybe that of your own son or daughter.  There must be a safer way to earn money during the holidays without jeopardizing the wellbeing and future of our youth,” she said.

The EcoWaste Coalition also reiterated their appeal to households and commercial establishments to donate the money set aside for firecrackers and fireworks to charitable causes.

“Instead of burning money for dangerous, deadly and dirty firecrackers and fireworks, please make donations to the victims of typhoon Nina in the affected provinces in the Bicol and Southern Tagalog regions,” she suggested.

“Our little acts of charity can alleviate the sufferings of the Christmas typhoon victims,” she emphasized.

On Wednesday, December 28, the EcoWaste Coalition, in collaboration with animal welfare groups, will hold a “Pet-A-Thon” at Quezon Memorial Circle to encourage the public not to use firecrackers for the sake of animals who suffer a lot from the loud, ear-splitting noise.

On Friday, December 30, the group will organize a community parade in Barangay Project 6, Quezon City to show off alternative pollution-free noisemakers for the New Year revelry that can be used in lieu of firecrackers.



22 December 2016

Green Group Urges Park Visitors Not to Leave Trail of Trash Behind

The waste and pollution watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition has sought the cooperation of Yuletide revelers in keeping Metro Manila’s public parks litter-free during the holidays.

As tens of thousands are expected to welcome Christmas and New Year at the Quezon Memorial Circle, Rizal Park and other open spaces, the group feared a repeat of the all-out park littering just like in previous years.

“Year in and year out, many park visitors would leave their discards lying on the ground or throw them anywhere they please even in plant boxes and storm drains,” lamented Ochie Tolentino, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Food leftovers and wrappers, polystyrene containers, paper and plastic bags, plastic bottles and cigarette butts are among the most littered items in public parks, the group observed.  

“Please be considerate and environmentally-responsible this time around.  Please bring your discards to the assigned bins or bring them home for proper recycling or disposal,” Tolentino said.

According to the group, littering is not only a blot on the landscape.  

“Littering poses health and sanitation risks, is costly to manage and illegal to do,” Tolentino said.

Littered objects can become breeding ground for disease-causing bacteria, insects and pests, including chikungunya, dengue and Zika virus-carrying mosquitoes.  Also, people, especially kids, can be injured if they accidentally step on broken glasses or bamboo skewers, she warned. 

Littered objects will require the paid services of waste and sanitation personnel who have to work overtime to sweep, collect and haul visitors’ trash to dumpsites and landfills, she said.

Littering is actually an offense under Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, she pointed out.  Violators can be fined from P300 to P1,000, asked to render community service or be required to pay the fine as well as perform community service.

To further curb littering in public parks, the group urged park administrators to deploy extra sweepers to frequently sweep areas with high human traffic. 

“Psychologically, people tend to drop more litter in places that are unswept and filthy,” Tolentino said.  

“Also, it will help if the park management will assign mobile anti-littering patrol equipped with megaphone and littering ticket to help in reminding park visitors to observe the law, as well as to apprehend those who violate it,” she added.


20 December 2016

DILG, BFP Urged to Reiterate Fire Hazard Warning against Sky Lanterns


An environmental and health non-government organization today urged the local government and fire authorities to issue a stern warning against the use of sky lanterns during the holidays.

The EcoWaste Coalition pressed Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ismael Sueno and Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Officer in Charge CSupt. Bobby Baruelo to make the necessary warning to protect lives and properties against fires caused by wayward sky lanterns.

The requested fire hazard warning will be in line with Section on the “prohibition on open burning” under the Fire Code of the Philippines, the group said.

The Fire Code prohibits “burning using any materials in any quantities which shall cause the emission of toxic and poisonous fumes,” as well as “depositing hot ashes or cinders, or smoldering coals, or greasy or oily substances liable to spontaneous ignition, into any combustible receptacle.”

“Sky lanterns can get out of control and fall on combustible surface and cause a fire that can damage properties and even claim innocent lives,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Dizon recalled that a family of seven people died in Barangay Bungad, Quezon City on December 25, 2012 due to a fire reportedly caused by a sky lantern.

The EcoWaste Coalition is also concerned that sky lanterns being sold by some retail outlets or being offered online for P20 for 100 pieces and up may contain asbestos, a hazardous material.

The group recalled that between 2011-2013 the governments of France, Ireland and United Kingdom withdrew from the market some sky lanterns because “the string in the product contains chrysotile asbestos.”

According to an advisory by the French government in 2013, “the product poses a risk of burns and fire because the paper of the lantern is not fireproof.  Moreover, it poses a chemical risk because the string in the product contains asbestos fibers.”

“It’s hard to say if the sky lanterns sold online or in local retail stores are asbestos-free.  Consumers would not be able to know if the string of the sky lantern has asbestos or not as this can only be detected through specific laboratory tests,” Dizon said.

“As a precaution against fire as well as potential asbestos exposure, we appeal to the public not to lit sky lanterns during the holidays for safety sake,” he added.


18 December 2016

EcoWaste Coalition Pleas for Less “Holitrash”

(Photos taken at Quezon Memorial Circle in the morning of 18 December 2016) 

As Christmas fever grips the country, the zero waste advocacy group EcoWaste Coalition appealed to the general public to take conscious steps to reduce the volume of the anticipated holiday trash or “holitrash.”

“The spate of holiday festivities is expected to generate extra tons of discards,” noted Ochie Tolentino, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“If we don’t exert any effort to responsibly consume and willfully segregate, reuse, recycle or compost our discards, our throw-outs would surely end up in street corners, empty lots, dumpsites, landfills, incinerators or even in the rivers, seas and oceans,” she pointed out.

“Again and again, we find our bins filled to the brim before, during and after the Christmas and New Year festivities as if we were not yet throwing enough throughout the year,” she observed, noting that the whole country generates over 40,000 tons of garbage per day.

“To reduce the environmental impacts of our revelries, we urge all waste generators from households to shopping malls to make it a point to lessen the ‘holitrash’ to the least possible,” she stressed.

For reduced “holitrash,” the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to be an eco-friendly shopper by bringing their own reusable bags and containers, by buying local as much as possible, by choosing products in the least amount of packaging, and by avoiding both paper and plastic carry bags as well as single-use party disposables.

To cut on food waste, the group reminded consumers to prepare only for what is needed and to ensure that excess foods are properly stored and recycled, or shared with others, particularly with indigent families and the homeless. 

Christmas boxes, wrappers and gift accessories, the group suggested, should be kept for the next gift-giving and not simply torn and thrown to the bin.  These can also be repurposed as materials for school art and craft activities. 

The group further urged the public to sort their discards at source to make reusing, recycling and composting easy and fun.  

Recyclable materials such as boxes and papers, soda cans, glass and plastic bottles and other containers can be sold to junk shops or, better, given to informal waste recyclers to bring Christmas cheer to those who help in conserving our planet’s resources.

Biodegradable discards such as fruit and vegetable peelings can be composted at home or at the barangay composting facility.

The group likewise appealed for the non-use of firecrackers and fireworks to welcome the New Year to prevent the generation of toxic emissions and wastes, lower noise pollution and put a stop to tragic paputok-related injuries, deaths and even fires.  

“Reducing the ‘holitrash’ is certainly a doable gift that all of us can offer to Mother Earth this festive season of giving and sharing,” Tolentino emphasized.

“Let’s honor the birth of Child Jesus with a greener, simpler and toxic-free celebration that will not harm the public health and the environment,” she added. 


Toxics Watch Group Advises Cebuanas to Steer Clear of Mercury-Tainted Skin Whitening Products

A non-governmental watch group on toxic chemicals, products and wastes has sounded the alarm over the continued sale in Cebu City of mercury-laced skin whitening cosmetic that can seriously endanger the health of consumers who are mostly women.

The Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition on Sunday revealed that it has purchased on December 14 and 15 seven banned skin whitening facial creams, costing P85 to  P150  each, from low-cost stores in downtown Cebu City, particularly from Bea’s Store at 138 Mall and the Cebu Dragon Brothers Trading Co.    

“These products are among the contraband cosmetics already banned by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for lacking the required certificates of product notification and for containing mercury, a potent neurotoxin, above the permissible limit,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“This latest toxic revelation from EcoWaste should prompt the FDA in Region VII to step up law enforcement activities to halt the sale of dangerous cosmetics in the city.   We should thank the group for this public service aimed at safeguarding our women’s health and wellness against mercury-tainted goods,”  said Cebu social activist Inday Olayer, a Steering Committee member of the EcoWaste Coalition.

Lucero and Olayer both agreed that the public interest will be served if the FDA and Cebu City’s health and police departments undertake combined operations to keep the marketplace safe from hazardous consumer products such as unregistered cosmetics laden with harmful chemicals.

Lucero was recently in the city  for a public forum on waste-to-energy technologies organized by  the Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office, Freedom from Debt Coalition and the EcoWaste Coalition.

Upon returning to Quezon City, the group screened the products that Lucero bought using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) gadget, which can identify and quantify heavy metals like mercury in the samples.

According to the screening conducted, the seven samples were found to contain mercury in the range of 1,732 to 8,118  parts per million (ppm), exceeding the threshold limit of 1 ppm as per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.

These seven skin whitening products – all banned by the FDA - and their mercury content are as follows:

Miss Beauty Magic Cream, 8,118 ppm
Huayuenong 12 Days Whitening and Speckle Removing Wrecking Set, 7,401 ppm
S’Zitang (gold packaging),3,214 ppm
Jiaoli 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle Cream AB Set, 2,676 ppm
Mifton, 2,259 ppm
S’Zitang 7-Day Specific Whitening & Spot AB Set,1,767 ppm
Jiaoli 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle Cream (one jar), 1,732 ppm

“While the product label of Miss Beauty Magic Cream says that it contains ‘natural sheep placenta,’ ‘fruit acid’ and ‘pearl powder’, it does not say it contains mercury,” observed Lucero.  “It also claims that ‘after a week, you will feel the natural skin looks younger and healthier,’ but silent on the toxic side effects of using it,” she further noted. 

According to the latest public health warning issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last August 22 on mercury-containing cosmetics, diverse health effects brought about by highly toxic mercury in cosmetic products include kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring.”

“Chronic use reduces the skin’s normal resistance against bacterial and fungal infections. Other effects include anxiety, depression or psychosis and peripheral neuropathy. The transfer of mercury to fetuses of pregnant women may manifest as neurodevelopment deficits later in life,” the FDA said.




14 December 2016

EcoWaste Coalition Tells Youngsters: Firecrackers are Dangerous, Deadly and Dirty (Environmental Group Holds “Iwas Paputoxic” Drive in Manila’s Public School)

As schools get ready for the annual school Christmas closedown beginning late next week, a health and environmental watch group reached out to young students to warn them against the hazards of lighting firecrackers during the holidays.

Today, December 14, the EcoWaste Coalition organized a well-attended awareness-raising drive to encourage the students of the Jacinto Zamora Elementary School (JZES) in Pandacan, Manila to spurn firecrackers and opt for alternative noisemakers to herald the New Year.

Joining the event which gathered over 1,000 students from Kindergarten to Grade VI were 2016 Miss Philippines Earth - Ecotourism Melanie Mader, Department of Health Spokesperson Dr. Eric Tayag and representatives from the Department of Education, Bureau of Fire Protection and the Philippine National Police. 

JZES Principal Angelina Mojica warmly welcomed the visitors to the school, which was adjudged Regional Winner and National Finalist under the Elementary School Category of the 2015 National Search for Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Schools.

“Firecrackers are not toys for young children to play with,” stressed Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, who pointed out that “firecrackers are dangerous, deadly and dirty” and “a total waste of money for a few minutes of toxic revelry.”

“To stop the tragic injuries and deaths, the destructive fires, the hazardous pollution, and the acoustic torture against animals due to firecrackers, we appeal to the general public to welcome 2017 in a safe and eco-friendly way without firecrackers,” she said. 

“I join the DOH and the EcoWaste Coalition in requesting the public, particularly the parents and their kids, not to light firecrackers anymore and to celebrate the beginning of a New Year with the health of their family members and neighbors and the well-being of Mother Earth in mind,” said beauty queen Mader.

The delayed issuance of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order imposing a national ban on firecrackers should not discourage communities and families from welcoming the New Year sans firecrackers, the EcoWaste Coalition said.  

“Now is the time to break the senseless ‘tradition’ of greeting the New Year with bloody mayhem, ear-splitting noise, fires, littered streets, smoggy skies and soot-blackened noses caused by firecrackers,” Lucero said.  

“It’s high time for every Filipino to assert our right to breathe clean air, especially on New Year’s Eve and on New Year’s Day.   It’s time for us to claim our right not to be exposed to toxic pollutants and wastes from firecrackers,” she further said.

With a more animated and sustained campaign at the community-level against piccolo and other firecrackers, the country’s cities and municipalities can significantly reduce firecracker-related damage to health and the environment, the EcoWaste Coalition said.   

In lieu of firecrackers and fireworks, the group encouraged the public to go for substitute noisemakers that can be made out of common household materials and recyclable junks.  

During the event, JZES students showed some of these alternative noisemakers, including: recycled maracas from empty pineapple juice cans, recycled tambourine from flattened softdrink crowns, improvised cymbals using pot lids and assorted shakers made from used product containers that were filled with coins, pebbles or seeds.

Finally, the EcoWaste Coalition urged households, business establishments and big corporations to divert funds earmarked for firecrackers and fireworks to worthy charities and causes instead. 

“Don't burn away your money, buy food or give it to charity!,” the group said.


13 December 2016

Watch Group Finds Mercury-Laden Skin Whitening Cream Being Sold in Binondo, Manila

The EcoWaste Coalition has notified the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the illicit sale of one more unregistered skin whitening cosmetic in Chinatown that is laden with toxic mercury.

The group last Saturday, December 10, procured for P160 a box of Xuemeiting, a two-jar day-and-night skin lightening product, from Ai Ren Tang Chinese Drug Store located at Lucky Chinatown Mall (Annex) in Binondo, Manila.

The product, which is not listed in the FDA’s database of goods with cosmetic product notifications, is likewise available at Ton Ren Tang Chinese Drug Store at Sabino Padilla St., also in Binondo.

The group then screened the product using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) to determine its compliance with the maximum allowable limit of one part per million (ppm) for mercury in cosmetics under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.

As per XRF screening, the jar containing white cream had 526 ppm of mercury, while the other jar containing blue cream had 326 ppm.

“We have requested the FDA to issue a public health advisory to dissuade consumers from buying this mercury-laced cosmetic, which can put them and their family members at risk of mercury exposure,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect. 

The group had earlier provided the FDA with a sample of unregistered Jiachuntang Ban Gan Jing Qu Ban Shuang, which the agency subsequently banned in August 2016 for containing mercury beyond the 1 ppm limit. 

“Unknown to consumers, there are unscrupulous manufacturers and traders that add mercury salts in cosmetic products to inhibit the formation of skin melanin, which will result to lighter skin tones, the FDA said.

The FDA has repeatedly warned retailers against selling unnotified cosmetics laced with toxic mercury and other harmful substances, which contravenes Republic Act 9711, or the Food and Drug Administration Act.

According to the “Mercury in Skin Lightening Products” fact sheet published the World Health Organization (WHO), “the main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage.” 

It said that “mercury in skin lightening products may also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.” 

Mercury exposure may also lead to “anxiety, depression or psychosis and peripheral neuropathy, said WHO, which has listed mercury among the “top ten chemicals of major public health concern.”

The EcoWaste Coalition urged consumers to insist on their right to product information, including the ingredients that make up a product, noting that Xuemeiting labeling information is almost entirely in Chinese in violation of the Consumer Act of the Philippines.  

The group also urged the cosmetic industry to abide by the Philippine and ASEAN policy on mercury in cosmetics, which is in sync with the objective of the Minamata Convention on Mercury that the Philippines signed in October 2013.

The treaty, which the government has yet to ratify, seeks “to protect the human health and the environment from anthropogenic releases of mercury and mercury compounds.” 


11 December 2016

Watchdog Warns Consumers against Fake MAC Lipsticks Laced with Toxic Lead

A watch group on toxic chemicals, products and wastes cautioned the public, particularly women, against using imitation MAC lipsticks that may be laden with toxic lead.

The EcoWaste Coalition issued the warning after detecting lead up to 3,780 parts per million (ppm) in 11 bogus MAC lipsticks that the group bought recently for P45 to P65 per piece from cheap cosmetic vendors in Davao and Manila Cities.

Lead and its compounds are among the substances that must not form part of the composition of a cosmetic as per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive, which also sets a maximum of 20 ppm as limit for lead in cosmetics.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24 also prohibits the use of lead and lead compounds in the manufacturing of cosmetics.

“Some consumers knowingly pick branded counterfeits like ‘MAC’ because these are cheaper than the real ones, and also because these are supposedly closer to the original products in terms of quality.  But, as our investigation shows, branded fakes can be notoriously toxic,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.     

“These lipsticks, sold by unauthorized retailers at bargain prices, are obviously falsified and substandard,” he added. 

According to the company’s official website, “MAC Cosmetics does not offer its products through individuals, street vendors, flea markets, internet auctions, independent boutiques or unauthorized online retailers. MAC does not sell its products at wholesale over the internet.

Using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, the group detected lead above the 20 ppm limit in 11 MAC imitation lipsticks.

Except for two (“MAC Charlotte Olympia” and “MAC Vivaglam”), the lead-tainted lip cosmetics all belong to the “MAC Zac Posen” lipstick collection.  

The fake “MAC Zac Posen’” variant “Girl About Town” (No. 08) had 3,780 ppm total lead; “Embrace Me” (No. 05) had 2,719 ppm; “Rudy Woo” (No. 12) had 2,443 ppm and “Kinda Sexy” (No. 14) had 923 ppm.

The US-based Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC)  has stated that “the recent science indicates there is no safe level of lead exposure” and that “lead is a neurotoxin and can be dangerous at small doses.”

As a cumulative toxicant, “lead builds up in the body over time so low exposures repeated daily can add up to a significant exposure,” the CSC said.

Lead exposure has been linked to learning, language and behavioral problems, decreased fertility in both women and men, hormonal changes and abnormal menstrual cycles, and delayed onset of puberty in girls and deferred development of testes in boys, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated.   

The group also said that a pregnant woman’s exposure to lead may put her at risk for miscarriage, premature birth and reduced fetal growth, as well as harm her baby’s brain and central nervous system.

To prevent human exposure to lead in lipstick, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to consider the following tips:

--- Check first through the FDA website (www.fda.gov.ph) if the desired lipstick has the required cosmetic product notification.

--- Buy your lipstick from a legitimate retail establishment and demand for official receipt.

--- Have doubts about the authenticity of the product if it is sold by an unauthorized dealer and if the price is unbelievably cheap. 

--- Cut back on your use of lipstick, especially if the product is not guaranteed as lead-free.

----Don’t allow children to play with lipstick.