27 April 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Urges Consumers to Pick Toxic-Free Aquatic Toys

Inflatable toys on sale in Carriedo St., Quiapo, Manila
An inflatable toy with labeling information that says "no hazardous substances," and "phthalate-free."  This product is available in legitimate retail stores.

As families plan for summer outings during the long weekend due to the ASEAN Summit and Labor Day, a chemical safety advocacy group reminded consumers to choose toxic-free swimming toys and to use them with care.

The EcoWaste Coalition said that some inflatable toys contain toxic phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates), which are chemical additives that make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic softer and pliable, above the government limit of 0.1% by weight.  Phthalates are known endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).

The group made a pitch for phthalate-free beach and pool balls, floaties and rings following the issuance of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Advisory 2017-094 on the proper selection and use of aquatic toys.

“We urge all consumers to observe the FDA reminders when buying and using aquatic toys to avoid risk of death by drowning, brain injury by near-drowning and other preventable injuries,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition's Project Protect.

“In addition to the FDA’s practical safety reminders, we advise consumers to demand for inflatable toys that are compliant with the government’s order banning certain phthalates above 0.1% in children’s toys,” he said.

As a basic rule, consumers are advised to carefully read the labeling information on the packaging, to choose toys that are suitable for the child’s age, abilities and skill level, and to follow the instructions and/or weight recommendations carefully for proper assembly and use.

“Check the label for the age grading, item/ model/ SKU number, warning/ cautionary statements, complete name and address of the company and license to operate number (LTO No.) of the local company responsible for placing the product in the market,” the FDA said.

“It shall be unlawful to manufacture for sale, offer for sale, distribute in commerce, or import into the country any children’s toy that contains concentration of more than 0.1% of di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP) or benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP),” stated the Department of Health (DOH) Administrative Order 2009-0005-A as amended in December 2011.

The same policy prohibits diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), or di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP) in any children’s toy that can be placed in a child’s mouth in concentrations above 0.1% by weight.

Dizon pointed out that three of the four samples of inflatable toys sent by the EcoWaste Coalition to a private laboratory in 2015 failed the phthalate tests.  All three were found to contain DEHP up to 19.6% and two had DINP up to 1.29%.

The fourth sample with a “phthalate-free” claim on the label passed the laboratory analysis for the banned phthalates.

According to the guide on EDCs published by the Endocrine Society and IPEN (a global NGO network promoting safe chemicals policies and practices), “phthalate exposure is linked to genital abnormalities in boys, reduced sperm counts, decreased ‘male typical’ play in boys, endometriosis, and elements of metabolic disruption including obesity.”

A World Health Organization's report states that "the diverse systems affected by EDCs likely include all hormonal systems," and that "the effects on these systems can lead to obesity, infertility or reduced fertility, learning and memory difficulties, adult-onset diabetes or cardiovascular disease, as well as a variety of other diseases."

The use of some phthalates in the manufacturing of toys has been restricted in the European Union since 1999, in US in 2008 and in the Philippines in 2011.




25 April 2017

Groups Push for ASEAN Ban on Microplastics in Cosmetics to Save the Oceans

As delegates assemble for the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, over 500 groups and individuals have called on the regional bloc to prohibit the use of microplastics in personal care and cosmetic products (PCCPs).

Microplastic particles, which can be as small as 1 micrometer (one millionth of a meter) to nano proportions, are used in a wide range of leave-on and rinse-off PCCP formulations.

Led by Balifokus (Indonesia), Consumers’ Association of Penang (Malaysia), EcoWaste Coalition (Philippines), Ecological Alert and Recovery Thailand (Thailand), and the  Research Centre for Gender, Family and Environment in Development (Vietnam), the groups sought the prohibition on microplastics under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive (ACD).

“We urge the governments of the 10 ASEAN member states to actively support the phase-out of microplastics in the production of cosmetics to cut ocean pollution and protect marine life,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We specifically appeal to the region’s health ministers to exercise their powers to ensure that microplastics are disallowed as permitted substances in cosmetic formulations,” she added.

Through a petition sent via the embassies of the  ASEAN governments in the Philippines and national cosmetic regulatory agencies, the groups called for “decisive action against the use of plastic microbeads and other microplastics in PCCPs manufactured, imported, distributed, sold and used in the region.”

To justify their push for a regional ban, the groups noted a United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) resolution stating that “the presence of plastic litter and microplastics in the marine environment is a rapidly increasing serious issue of global concern that needs an urgent global response.”

Through Resolution 2/11, UNEA urged governments and product manufacturers to phase out microplastic particles in PCCPs and “their replacement with organic or mineral non-hazardous compounds.”

The groups likewise cited recent reports highlighting concerns about plastics and marine pollution, including the first World Ocean Assessment, which expresses concern about the ability of microplastics to enter marine food chains and their potential harms.   

“Because of their microscopic size, these particles flow straight to the drain and into the water bodies, contributing to the alarming plastic pollution of the ocean,” the groups warned

According to the research by the United Nations Environment Programme: “washed down the drain, these particles cannot be collected for recycling, nor do they decompose in wastewater treatment facilities, inevitably ending up in the global ocean, where it fragments and remains” and “these plastics may take hundreds of years to completely degrade.”

Microplastic particles can absorb and release highly toxic chemicals such as persistent organic pollutants like dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), according to studies.

These toxin-laden microplastics can be easily eaten by fish, mussels and other aquatic organisms and thus contaminating the marine food chains and posing risks for human health and the environment, the groups said.

Some of the microplastic-containing PCCPs in the market include shampoo, conditioner, hair spray,  toothpaste, facial creams and masks, shower gel, shaving creams, deodorant, lipstick, moisturizers,  sunscreen and many other products.





24 April 2017

Watch Group Lauds Caloocan Barangay for Taking Action vs. Improper E-Waste Recycling

A non-profit watch group on toxic chemicals and wastes lauded the leadership of Barangay 178 in Camarin, Caloocan City for taking a stance to combat the improper recycling and disposal of electronic waste or e-waste.

The EcoWaste Coalition commended Punong Barangay Editha Labasbas and the Barangay Council for considering an ordinance that will prohibit and penalize the illegal breaking and disposal of toxic cathode ray tubes (CRTs).

CRT, the glass video display component of some electronic equipment such as televisions and computers, contains dangerous levels of lead and other hazardous substances, including barium, cadmium and fluorescent powders

The pollution prevention measure came on the heels of indiscriminate breaking and disposal of CRTs in certain parts of Barangay 178 as reported by the EcoWaste Coalition to Labasbas on March 8.

The ordinance, passed on third and final reading on April 20, will be transmitted to the Caloocan City government for ultimate approval.

It  proposes to penalize violators with a fine of P300 to P1,000 or with community service for not less than 1 day to not more than 15 days as determined by the barangay authorities.

“We laud Barangay 178 for taking action to protect its residents, particularly the young children, from being exposed to lead and other health-damaging substances from broken CRTs,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

"This is a very meaningful way to mark the Earth Month, and we hope that the Caloocan City Council will expedite the approval of the barangay ordinance in the interest of public health and the environment," he said.

“This policy measure provides a good basis for a city-wide ordinance that will ban the dangerous practice of breaking CRTs and leaving toxic fragments and residues lying on the ground,” he added.  

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), lead exposure harms children at much lower doses, and the health effects are generally irreversible and can have a lifelong impact.

“Once lead enters the child’s body through ingestion or inhalation or across the placenta, it has the potential to damage the brain and the central nervous system, as well as the blood system, the kidneys and the skeleton,” the WHO has warned.

The liquid-crystal display (LCD) of some TVs and computers are illuminated by cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL) containing mercury, a chemical that is hazardous to human health and the environment, which is also found in some circuit boards, relays and switches.

The said barangay ordinance was crafted to implement provisions of Republic Acts 6969, 9003 and  9275 and their Implementing Rules and Regulations regarding the safe management of chemicals and wastes.

RA 6969, the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act, RA 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and RA 9275, the Clean Water Act, prohibit acts that will endanger the public health and environment, including the improper recycling and disposal of CRTs.

RA 6969 and related issuances by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources such as DAO 2013-22 (Hazardous Waste Management) and 2013-24 (Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds) require the management of waste electrical and electronic equipment, including CRTs, in an environmentally-sound manner.


20 April 2017

POPs Recycling Taints Plastic Children’s Toys with Toxic Chemicals from E-Waste

A new global survey finds that recycling plastics containing toxic flame retardant chemicals found in electronic waste results in contamination of the world’s best-selling toy along with other children’s products. 

Ironically, the chemical contaminants can damage the nervous system and reduce intellectual capacity but are found in mostly imitation Rubik’s Cubes – a puzzle toy designed to exercise the mind.

The study was performed by IPEN (a global civil society network) and Arnika (an environmental organization in the Czech Republic) in cooperation with partner groups from 26 countries, including the EcoWaste Coalition from the Philippines.

The toxic chemicals Octabromodiphenyl ether (OctaBDE), Decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE), and Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) are used in the plastic casings of electronic products and if they are not removed, they are carried into new products when the plastic is recycled. 

The study was released just a few days before the eight Conference of the Parties (COP8) to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) will decide whether to continue allowing the recycling of materials containing OctaBDE and possibly make a new recycling exemption for DecaBDE. The treaty’s expert committee has warned against the practice.

According to the study,  90% of the samples contained OctaBDE or DecaBDE, and 43% contained HBCD. These chemicals are persistent and known to harm the reproductive system and disrupt hormone systems, adversely impacting intelligence, attention, learning and memory.

“Materials containing toxic flame retardant chemicals such as OctaBDE and DecaBDE should not be ‘recycled’ into children’s toys,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

At a meeting with the Environmental Management Bureau and other stakeholders last Tuesday, April 18, the EcoWaste Coalition requested the Philippine delegation to push for the end of toxic recycling exemption for brominated diphenyl ethers in the Stockholm Convention.

“Recycling materials that contain toxic chemicals contaminates new products, continues exposure, and undermines the credibility of recycling," said Pam Miller, IPEN Co-chair. “Governments should end this harmful loophole.”

Another critical decision of the Stockholm Convention Conference will be to establish hazardous waste limits. Protective hazardous waste limits would make wastes subject to the treaty’s obligations for destruction – and not permit their recycling. Surprisingly, some of the toxic chemical levels in children’s products in this study exceeded proposed hazardous waste limits.

“We need protective hazardous waste limits,” said Jitka Strakova, Arnika. “Weak standards mean toxic products and dirty recycling, which often takes place in low and middle-income countries and spreads poisons from recycling sites into our homes and bodies. “

The application of strict hazardous limits is also critical for brominated flame retardants due to their presence in e-waste. 

In many countries, the Stockholm Convention standards will be the only global regulatory tool that can be used to prevent import and export of these contaminated wastes, in many cases from countries with stricter legislation to countries with weaker legislation or control.


The report can be accessed here:


17 April 2017

Sale of Deadly Cleaning Agents by Sidewalk Vendors Alarms Toxics Watchdog

Unregistered and unlabeled silver jewelry cleaner on sale in Rizal Avenue near Recto Avenue, Sta. Cruz, Manila (top photos); repacked oxalic acid sold along with herbal products and other stuff in Evangelista Street, Quiapo, Manila.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a watch group on toxic  chemicals, products and wastes, has expressed grave concern over the sale of dangerous cleaning products in Manila's sidewalks.

The non-profit environmental and health advocacy group made its concern known after finding silver jewelry cleaning solution and oxalic acid powder on sale in Rizal Avenue, Santa Cruz, and in Evangelista Street and Quezon Boulevard in Quiapo, respectively.

The group’s Toxic Patroller on Saturday, April 15, found bottles of liquid silver jewelry cleaner being sold for P35 per unit by a sidewalk vendor in Rizal Avenue near Recto Avenue.

The water-like solution is packed in a small 80 ml plastic bottle that has no labeling information aside from the handwritten “silver cleaner.”

The group also found repacked and unlabelled oxalic acid powder being sold for as low as P20 per pack by herbalists in Evangelista Street and Quezon Boulevard.

“Police and health authorities have identified these cleaning agents as the culprits behind some of the gruesome poisoning incidents reported in Metro Manila and elsewhere, including several fatal cases,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“Liquid silver cleaners, which may contain cyanide, have resurfaced in Manila’s sidewalks seven months after Mayor Joseph Estrada ordered a crack down against the deadly mixture,” he said.

In late August 2016, Estrada, reacting to an EcoWaste Coalition’s exposé, directed the City Health Office to conduct raids on stores violating City Ordinance No. 8178, Series of 2008, which prohibits the retail sale of metal and jewelry cleaners containing cyanide.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), cyanide “is classified as poisonous which can be rapidly absorbed by the body through inhalation, ingestion and dermal absorption.” 

“It blocks utilization of oxygen in all organs and liable to cause serious injury to human health that may lead to acute poisoning or death,” the FDA said.

“Oxalic acid has not really disappeared from the informal street market despite the high-profile milk tea deaths in Sampaloc, Manila due to this lethal cleaning agent,” Dizon pointed out.

In April 2015, Ergo Cha shop owner William Abrigo and customer Suzaine Dagohol died after drinking milk tea contaminated with oxalic acid.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), oxalic acid is colorless crystals or white powder that can be absorbed into the body by inhalation of its aerosol and by ingestion.

“The substance is corrosive to the eyes, the skin and the respiratory tract and exposure above the occupational exposure limits may result in death,” the CDC said. 

To prevent further poisoning cases, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the city’s law enforcers to end the street sale of silver jewelry cleaner and oxalic acid once and for all.




16 April 2017

Group Pushes for Ecological Waste Management for Greener Pilgrimage Next Time (EcoWaste Coalition Scores Pilgrims for Trash Dumping and Burning)

 Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Cathedral, Antipolo City
 Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Cathedral, Antipolo City
 Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Cathedral, Antipolo City
 Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Cathedral, Antipolo City
 Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, San Jose del Monte City
  Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, San Jose del Monte City
  Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, San Jose del Monte City
  Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, San Jose del Monte City
 Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, San Jose del Monte City

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental group pursuing a zero waste society, exhorted the faithful to aim for greener spiritual pilgrimage next time by not dumping and burning litter.

To cap off its campaign for a trash-free Holy Week, the group on Easter Sunday took  litterers to task for spoiling popular pilgrimage sites and their environs by leaving behind tons of trash, including discarded beverage and food containers, snack packs, plastic bags, cigarette butts and improvised materials for sitting, picnicking and sleeping.

The group also chided those who set garbage heaps on fire for exacerbating the environmental mess with dangerous air contaminants such as particulate matter, which, if inhaled, can result to serious health effects, particularly to the heart and lungs.

The EcoWaste Coalition reiterated its disapproval and condemnation of trash dumping and burning after receiving more photo evidence of the unlawful acts committed during the holy days.

The group most recently obtained photos of mounds of trash, including bonfires (siga), taken on Black Saturday at the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in San Jose Del Monte City, a popular Lenten pilgrimage site.  The photos can be viewed here:


The group had earlier deplored the widespread littering that again marred the penitential Alay-Lakad to Antipolo City. 

“The dumping and burning of trash that happened in pilgrimage sites and the roads leading to them are totally inexcusable,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“There is no excuse for defiling the environment, the sustainer of all life, with pollutants that can cause harm to personal as well as community health,” she stressed. 

“Litterbugs cannot continue throwing litter anywhere they please because someone would pick up after them, or because they would be able to get away with it despite being a punishable offense under our national and local environmental laws,” she added. 

Both littering and open burning are forbidden acts punishable under Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and its corresponding local ordinances.

The EcoWaste Coalition expressed its hope “that pilgrims will mind their trash next time, and embrace the saying ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’ to heart, especially when they carry out penitential acts.” 

“The activities in remembrance of the Passion of Christ should not generate ‘holitrash.' Instead of adding to our garbage and climate woes, the solemn week should inspire us to clean our hearts and strengthen our respect for Mother Earth and other beings,’ the group added.

“Wasteful penitential acts should die away as we struggle to live amid the changing climate,” the group emphasized. 


15 April 2017

More Photos of Waste Dumping and Burning at the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in San Jose del Monte City

The above pictures were taken in the afternoon of Black Saturday, April 15, 2017, at the premises of the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in San Jose del Monte City.

14 April 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Regrets Pervasive Littering as Pilgrims Perform Penitential Acts in Popular Lenten Sites (“Wasteful penitential acts should die away as we struggle to live amid the changing climate”)

An environmental advocacy group espousing a trash-free observance of the Holy Week has lamented the ubiquitous litter that sullied two popular Lenten pilgrimage sites outside Metro Manila.

The EcoWaste Coalition expressed its disappointment over the unbridled acts of littering that befouled the surroundings of the Our Lady of Peace Cathedral in Antipolo City, Rizal Province and the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan Province.

In the early morning of Good Friday, the group’s Basura Patrollers went to these pilgrim sites to check on the garbage situation following the penitential pilgrimage that attracted millions of devotees from the National Capital Region and nearby provinces.

Photos of the littered sites can be viewed at the EcoWaste Coalition’s blog.  

“We regret that the lack of discipline in the proper management of discards has again marred the penitential pilgrimage that many Filipinos do to atone for past mistakes and shortcomings,” stated Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.  

“The roads leading to the holy sites, particularly the long expanse of Ortigas Avenue Extension leading to the shrine of the venerated image of the Virgin of Antipolo, were littered with candy, snack and fast food wrappers, plastic bags and bottles, and cigarette filters,” she said.

“The situation could have been worse if not for the hundreds of street sweepers deployed by the local government units of Pasig, Cainta, Taytay and Antipolo who worked around the clock to clean the streets of trash,” she emphasized.

“The informal waste pickers also contributed to reducing the volume of trash to be hauled by removing recyclable materials to be sold to junk shops,” she added.

At the Antipolo Cathedral, many pilgrims who spent the night at the patio after the tedious walk simply left the soiled kraft papers, newspapers, posters and other improvised sleeping pads lying on the ground.  

“The oft-repeated reminder from the church aired over the public address system for pilgrims to bring home or properly disposed of such sleeping materials was ignored,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

In addition to the ‘usual’ trash, the group also reported finding used disposable diapers and Red Horse beer in the patio.

The group likewise saw some pilgrims smoking or vaping while resting at the patio.

At the vicinity of Lourdes Grotto, the group found piles of trash consisting mostly of polystyrene food containers, plastic bottles, cups and bags and chip wrappers.

“We hope that pilgrims will mind their trash next time, and embrace the saying ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’ to heart, especially when they carry out penitential acts,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“The activities in remembrance of the Passion of Christ, which is commemorated during the Holy Week, should not generate ‘holitrash.”  Instead of adding to our garbage and climate woes, the solemn week should inspire us to clean our hearts and strengthen our respect for Mother Earth and other beings,’ the group added.

“Wasteful penitential acts should die away as we struggle to live amid changing climate,” the group said. 


Photos of Littering at the Our Lady of Peace Cathedral, Antipolo City

Photos were taken in the early morning of Good Friday, 14 April 2017 at the Our Lady of Peace Cathedral in Antipolo City.