31 May 2017

Visiting Expert Puts Microplastics in Cosmetics on the Spot at Beauty Trade Show

A visiting expert from US today drew attention to the emerging concerns around the environmental impacts of microplastics in cosmetics at the ongoing beauty trade show in Pasay City.

Speaking at the 3rd Philippines International Beauty Show, Dr. Ann Blake raised the issue of microplastic ingredients in personal care and cosmetic product (PCCP) formulations as contributing to the micro-sized plastic litter in the oceans.  Blake made a similar presentation last Monday before cosmetic regulators at a forum organized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Blake’s participation at this major industry event was made possible by the collaboration between the Chamber of Cosmetics Industry of the Philippines and the EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit environmental watchdog. 
Microplastics are plastic particles less than 5 mm in size or as small as several microns (millionths of a meter) serving many functions in cosmetics, including exfoliation, emulsion stabilizing, film-forming, skin conditioning, viscosity regulation and many others.

Products that may contain microplastics from less than 1% to as much as 90% of product weight include soap, shampoo, children’s bubble bath, shower gel, deodorant, toothpaste, facial masks, facials scrubs, wrinkle cream, shaving cream, moisturizers, lipstick, eye shadow, sunscreen, etc.

“Microbeads and other microplastics are designed to go down the drain.  Because they are too small to be captured in wastewater treatment facilities, the extremely tiny plastic particles travel straight to the ocean,” said Blake, a public health and environmental consultant with over 23 years of experience finding safer alternatives to industrial chemicals in global manufacturing.

“These plastic materials are ingested by birds, fish and other marine life who mistake them for food. Microplastics can absorb toxic chemicals such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and work their way back up the food chain,” she said

“Microplastics and toxic chemicals in fish are a concern as fish provide a major source of protein for 3.1 billion people.  As a continent, Asia has the highest global fish consumption,” she emphasized.

To cut the use of microplastics in cosmetics and their eventual disposal to the ocean, Blake posed a few questions for cosmetic formulators and manufactures to ponder:  1) Are microplastics necessary for product performance?, 2) What are the safer alternatives?   3) What about a natural solution that could support a local industry by using an agricultural product or waste, or sequester carbon and restore agricultural soil?

Among the safer alternatives to microplastics  as identified by the US Personal Care Products Council include beeswax, rice bran wax, jojoba waxes, starches derived from corn, tapioca and carnauba,
seaweed, silica, clay and other natural compounds.

Multinational cosmetic companies and international cosmetic trade associations have voluntarily decreased their use of microbeads in response to the “Beat the Microbead” NGO campaign starting in 2012.

Among these companies are L’Oreal, which plans to phase out polyethylene microbeads from exfoliates, cleansers and shower gels by 2017; Crest, which plans complete their phase out of microbeads in toothpaste by 2017, and Johnson & Johnson, which plans to complete by 2017 their phase out of microbeads that began in 2015.

Blake also noted that in January 2017, the ASEAN Cosmetic Association recommended the discontinuation of use of microbeads for the protection of the environment, especially the waterways.

The US, the UK, several European countries and nine US states have initiated bans on microbeads in cosmetics and personal care products; the earliest of these bans become effective July 1, 2017.

“Given the associated potential risks of microplastics, a precautionary approach is recommended toward microplastic management, with the eventual phase-out and ban in PCCPs,” the “Plastic in Cosmetics” report published by the UN Environment Program said.

“Redesigning products that are more environmentally friendly, less plastic intensive and use safer chemicals can contribute towards reducing potential health threats posed by microplastics in PCCPs,” it added.




Green Chemistry and Sustainable Development Goals

The Department of Environment – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) in cooperation with the EcoWaste Coalition  on May 30 organized a seminar on Green Chemistry and Sustainable Development Goals  with visiting public health and environmental expert Dr. Ann Blake as resource person.  The seminar, which attracted participants from the government, industry, civil society and the academe, shed light on Green Chemistry, a growing design philosophy and business strategy that aims to make processes and products safe for the people and the environment by reducing or eliminating the use of hazardous substances and the generation of hazardous wastes. 

30 May 2017

Consumers Urged to Skip Antibacterial Products Containing Triclosan and Triclocarban (Expert says antibacterials are no more effective than plan soap and water in reducing disease)

A non-profit toxics watch group urged consumers to refrain from using antibacterial soaps and washes containing triclosan and triclocarban as a historic ban in US on such products looms.

At a press briefing held today, the EcoWaste Coalition noted that a ban on the marketing of consumer antiseptic wash products containing antibacterials triclosan and triclocarban will take effect on September 6, 2017 as ordered by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

In light of such policy, the group called on Filipino consumers to use their buying power and influence to make companies switch to safer formulations by patronizing products that are free of triclosan, triclocarban and other chemicals of concern.

Triclosan and triclocarban are among the 19 antibacterials being banned by the federal agency “because manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections.”

Dr. Ann Blake, a visiting public health and environmental expert from US who spoke at the event, pointed out “studies have indicated increased evidence of both health and environmental harm linked to the use and disposal of triclosan and its chemical cousin triclocarban, with no benefit to humans and the ecosystems."

Antibacterials (including triclosan, triclocarban) and quaternary ammonium products (“quats”) are medical disinfectants that have been increasingly added to a variety of personal care and household cleaning products.

“The claim of supposed ‘antibacterial protection’ from the use of such products is not backed up by scientific evidence.  Plain soap and water work better in reducing infection and disease,” Blake said.

“These antibacterials are often marketed as a way to protect consumers from ‘superbugs’when in fact they contribute to antibiotic resistance,” she said, adding that “superbugs originate from the use of ‘preventive’ dosing of antibiotics in industrial meat production for cows, pigs and chickens.”

Environmentalist Rene Pineda of the EcoWaste Coalition noted that the biggest use for triclosan and triclocarban are in antibacterial soaps, hand and body washes and related products that are discharged in wastewater drains.

“Disposed of in residential drains, these chemicals, which are highly toxic to aquatic organisms, can accumulate in water bodies, affect the balance of the fragile marine ecosystems and result in hazardous residues in fish that we eat,” he said.

Another concern that Pineda highlighted is that these chemicals could be transformed into chloroform and dioxin compounds with exposure to sunlight or when interacting with chemicals such as chlorine in tap water.

For better health and hygiene, Blake and Pineda stressed the importance of washing hands frequently with ordinary soap and water to wash away harmful bacteria, especially when preparing food, before eating, after going to the toilet, and when a member of the family is sick.

At the press briefing, the EcoWaste Coalition also appealed to companies, both foreign and local, to phase out the use and sale of consumer products containing triclosan and triclocarban starting with over-the-counter antibacterial soaps and washes.

The group last week conducted test buys of antibacterial soaps and washes and found many products listing triclosan or triclocarban among their ingredients.

The group noted that leading manufacturers including Avon, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and others have phased out triclosan and triclocarban and reformulated products containing these antibacterials. 




24 May 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Cautions Consumers vs Lead-Containing School Supplies

A persistent advocate for children’s safety from toxic substances has warned that some school supplies being sold in the market contain undisclosed quantities of lead, a chemical that is known to affect intelligence and behavior.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit watch group on toxic chemicals, products and wastes, aired the warning as the sale of school supplies soars with the nearing resumption of classes on June 5.

To generate data for its public outreach efforts, the group conducted yet another test buy targeting affordable school supplies sold in discount stores located in Baclaran, Divisoria, Guadalupe and Monumento, where budget-conscious parents go to for their children’s school needs.

“We conducted this year’s test buy against the backdrop of an intensified campaign to promote business and industry compliance to the country’s lead and lead paint laws,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Dizon cited the DENR Administrative Order 2013-24 or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, which prohibits the use of lead in the production of school supplies, as well as the DepEd Department Order 4, Series of 2017, which requires the mandatory use of lead-safe paints in all preparatory, elementary and secondary schools.

“Eliminating all sources of childhood exposure to lead in children’s environment is necessary to protect their developing brains and to help them realize their full potentials,” he said.

For its latest test buy, the EcoWaste Coalition purchased affordable backpacks, lunch bags, water containers, and assorted stationery items, which were subsequently screened for lead and other toxic metals using a  portable X-Ray Fluorescence device.

Out of the 55 items bought and screened, 21, mostly school bags, were found to contain varying concentrations of lead.  The rest were found to contain no detectable of lead.

Joining this year’s “dirty dozen” list of lead-laden school supplies were:

1.   An orange stainless steel vacuum flask with 40,500 ppm.

2.   A yellow thumb tack with 31,800 ppm

3.   A yellow “Tigger & Pooh” water container, 21,900 ppm

4.   A blue backpack with stop light design, 11,000 ppm

5.   A green backpack with ladybug design, 8,619 ppm

6.   A small blue bag with “Ben 10” design, 4,094 ppm

7.   A pink “Weinite” backpack with alphabet design, 3,754 ppm

8.   A green and yellow ”Kakuchuanqi” bag, 2,076 ppm

9.   A stationery bag with yellow zipper, 2,034 ppm

10. A green backpack with star design, 1,998 ppm

11. A small blue bag with “Naruto” design, 1,282 ppm

12. A big yellow backpack with “Despicable Me” design, 1,120 ppm

In addition, the EcoWaste Coalition had earlier disclosed high levels of lead in eight out of 20 painted school gardening tools such as hand forks, rakes and shovels with total lead content ranging from 816 to 20,400 ppm.

To prevent children’s exposure to lead and other harmful chemicals, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to:  demand complete product information, including information about a product’s chemical composition; refrain from buying school supplies made out of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic that may contain toxic additives like cadmium, lead and  phthalates; and avoid products with painted parts or metal accessories unless certified “lead-free” or “non-toxic.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “at high levels of acute exposure, lead attacks the brain and central nervous system to cause coma, convulsions and even death.” 

“At lower levels of exposure that cause no obvious symptoms and that previously were considered safe, lead is now known to produce a spectrum of injury that causes loss of cognition, shortening of attention span, alteration of behavior, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs,” the WHO said.

WHO has listed lead among the “ten chemicals of major public health concern,” stating that “lead exposure is estimated to account for 0.6% of the global burden of disease, with the highest burden in developing regions.”






22 May 2017

Watch Group Finds School Gardening Tools Laden with Toxic Lead

Gardening tools coated with  lead-containing paints (above) and those without (bottom).

An advocate for the prevention of childhood lead exposure alerted school authorities against the use of gardening tools that are coated with lead-containing paints.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit environmental and health group, aired the warning following the detection of high concentrations of lead, a potent neurotoxin, in eight of 20 samples of gardening tools.

The tools, which are commonly used in home, community and school gardening activities, were purchased for P20 to P65 each from general merchandise stores, hardware centers and sidewalk vendors in Monumento, Caloocan City, Divisoria, Manila City, and in Makati City and Pasay City. 

The EcoWaste Coalition analyzed the gardening tools, including hand shovels, rakes, forks and cultivators, as part of its “Toxic-Free Back-to-School” drive.

“We found excessive lead paint levels on some of these gardening tools that are often used in school gardening activities,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Of the 20 gardening tools, eight were found to be decorated with paints containing dangerous concentrations of lead up to 20,400 parts per million (ppm), way above the 90 ppm total lead content limit under the DENR A.O. 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds.

“We are concerned that the lead coated gardening tools will deteriorate and rust with frequent use.  This will cause the paint to peel and for its lead content to contaminate the soil,” said Dizon.

“A child can be exposed to lead if the lead-contaminated soil gets into his hands and mouth while gardening or playing in the dirt,” he pointed out.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “young children are particularly vulnerable because they absorb 4–5 times as much ingested lead as adults from a given source.”

“Moreover, children’s innate curiosity and their age-appropriate hand-to-mouth behavior result in their mouthing and swallowing lead-containing or lead-coated objects, such as contaminated soil or dust and flakes from decaying lead-containing paint,” the WHO explained.

“Undernourished children are more susceptible to lead because their bodies absorb more lead if other nutrients, such as calcium, are lacking. Children at highest risk are the very young (including the developing fetus) and the impoverished,” the WHO.

“Lead affects children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioural changes such as reduced attention span and increased antisocial behavior, and reduced educational attainment,” the WHO empahsized.




EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 336, Eagle Court, 26 Matalino St., 1100 Quezon City, Philippines
Phone/Fax: 4411846  E-Mail: info@ecowastecoalition.org

Website: http://ecowastecoalition.blogspot.com

20 May 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Calls Attention to Choking Hazards from Fidget Spinners

A watch group promoting safe toys today cautioned parents and their kids against choking hazards posed by fidget spinners, the latest toy craze.

The EcoWaste Coalition aired the precautionary warning to prevent children from ingesting the small parts of the addictive fidget spinner toys that can cause choking.

“Fidget spinners are fun to play with.  But, their small parts, particularly the bearings and bushings, may not be tightly secured, can come off and get ingested by kids,” warned Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“To be on the safe side, we advise parents not let their kids play with toys with small parts, which, if swallowed, may obstruct the flow of air into the lungs and prevent breathing,” he said.

The group issued the toy choking hazard warning after Briton Joniec, a 10-year old girl from Houston, Texas, accidentally swallowed one of the bearings from her fidget spinner, which got lodged in her esophagus.

Her mother Kelly Rose shared the incident through a Facebook post to warn other parents about the choking hazards of the popular finger toy.

”Fidget spinners are the current craze so they are widely distributed. Kids of all ages may be getting them, but not all spinners come with age-appropriate warnings. The bushings pop out easily, so if you have young kids keep in mind that these present a potential choking hazard,” she said in her Facebook post.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “choking is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality among children, especially those aged 3 years or younger (with) food, coins, and toys (as) the primary causes of choking-related injury and death.”

To prevent choking incidents, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Philippines has repeatedly reminded consumers "not to give toys with small parts to children under the age of three years as children have a tendency to put toys in their mouths."

The EcoWaste Coalition warned that some fidget spinners, particularly those sold in Divisoria, may have not gone through the verification process of the FDA, the lead regulatory agency for toys and childcare articles (TCCAs). 

Fidget spinners that do not have valid TCCA product notifications would be illegal to sell, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Duly notified TCCAs will contain the following information on the label:

- LTO number issued by FDA;
- Age grade;
- Cautionary statements/ warnings;
- Instructional literature;
- Item/ Model/ SKU No. of the product; and
- Manufacturer’s marking wherein the complete name and address of the manufacturer or distributor are reflected.



To read the Facebook post of Kelly Rose Joniec, please see this link:
To read the “Public Health Warning Against the Use of Toys and Childcare Articles (TCCA) Products With No FDA Certificate of Product Notification,” please see:

19 May 2017

Zero Waste Group Says E.O. 26 to Cut Cigarette Butt Littering

An advocacy group promoting Zero Waste lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for signing Executive Order 26 as this will translate to cleaner air and litter-free environment.

The EcoWaste Coalition welcomed the E.O. "providing for the establishment of smoke-free environments in public and enclosed places" as this will protect the public health and environment.

“We laud President Duterte for signing the long-promised E.O. as this will protect the right of every Filipino to be protected against the hazards of second-hand and third-hand tobacco smoke,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We agree with the President that ‘public health takes precedence over any commercial or business interest’ as mentioned in the E.O. and ask everyone to rally behind its implementation,” she added.

While the E.O. provides for non-mandatory designated smoking areas (DSAs) with certain standards to follow, the EcoWaste Coalition urged persons-in-charge to go for 100% smoke-free environment for places under their jurisdiction.

According to the E.O., “nothing in this Order shall compel the persons-in-charge to establish DSAs nor prevent them from instituting more stringent measures in their buildings and establishments to better ensure a smoke-free environment in their premises.”

“As a group campaigning for a waste-free society, we trust that the enforcement of the E.O. will significantly reduce the number of cigarette butts thrown on the streets that ultimately find their way into the rivers and oceans,” she emphasized.

“The E.O., we believe, will help in protecting our urban, rural and marine ecosystems from cigarette butts, which is more than just a litter,” she said.

“Although small and lightweight, cigarette butts take several years to degrade, contain many harmful chemicals, pose environmental health risks, and waste public funds for cleanup and disposal,” she explained.  

The EcoWaste Coalition also expressed its hope that the proposed E.O. imposing a national firecracker ban will be signed next.

The group had earlier said that the immediate promulgation of the E.O. will give the country, particularly the firecracker industry, more time to perform the necessary adjustment and transition.

“The ban will surely not make everyone happy, but, just like in E.O. 26,  the greater public interest dictates that a tougher policy is adopted to put an end to the preventable cycle of injuries, deaths, fires and toxic pollution due to firecrackers,” the group stressed.

“We urge the President to hasten the ban on firecrackers, too,” it said.


17 May 2017

Watch Group Tells Schools to Shut the Door on Lead-Containing Paints and Products

A non-profit environmental watch group went school hopping this week in a bid to publicize the Department of Education’s policy requiring the obligatory use of lead-safe paints in decorating schools.

Coinciding with this week’s Brigada Eskwela, the volunteers and staff of the EcoWaste Coalition went to over 250 preparatory, elementary and secondary schools located in 23 cities and municipalities in Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan and Rizal.

The public and private schools visited were provided with copies of DepEd Department Order 4, Series of 2017, entitled “Mandatory Use of Lead-Safe Paints in Schools,” plus a matching “Lead-Free School” poster published by the EcoWaste Coalition. 

Schools were also given copies of the group’s “Zero-Waste School” poster, which seeks to promote adherence to D.O. 5, s.2014, which provides for the “Implementing Guidelines on the Integration of Gulayan sa Paaralan, Solid Waste Management and Tree Planting Under the National Greening Program (NGP).”

“We appeal to our principals and teachers to take an active role in preventing the entry of lead-containing paints and products in their schools as this will help in creating a healthy and safe learning environment that all kids deserve,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“As lead has no beneficial purpose for the human body and is, in fact, damaging to human health, we ask our schools to literally shut the door on lead-containing paints and products, and stop a preventable source of childhood lead exposure,” he added.

As correctly pointed out in D.O. 4, “the use of lead-safe paints shall reduce children’s exposure to toxic lead via lead-containing paint and dust, thus, avoiding health impacts,” Dizon said.

Surfaces coated with lead paint will deteriorate with time or when disturbed, and this will cause the lead from the paint to contaminate the dust and soil that children can ingest during customary hand-to-mouth behavior, the EcoWaste Coalition explained.    

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

Exposure to lead, which is damaging to the brain and the central nervous system, can result in health and development issues such as decreased intelligence, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems, to name a few.

As per D.O. 4, the use of lead-safe paints also applies to paint-coated goods or products directly procured by the school as well as those sourced by other means such as through individual, group, corporate or local government donations.

Moreover, D.O.4 requires that all products donated or sold to schools such as, but not limited to, paints, bags, school supplies and furnishings by commercial and non-commercial establishments, as well as concerned individuals, must comply with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, and other relevant regulations.



15 May 2017

Lead-Free School Gets Thumbs Up from Brigada Eskwela Participants ("A lead-free school is an investment in our children's health and future.")

School officials, teachers, parents, students and other community members today gave the thumbs up to the mandatory use of lead-safe paints in schools as ordered by the Department of Education (DepEd).

At the launch of the Brigada Eskwela activities in Project 6 Elementary School and Ernesto Rondon High School in Quezon City, participants expressed their unity with the government’s policy that aims to prevent and reduce children’s exposure to lead paint hazards at schools.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a staunch advocate for the eradication of lead paints and the risks that such paints pose to public health and the environment, partnered with the schools to drum up awareness and support for DepEd’s Department Order 4 issued by Secretary Leonor Briones last January 2017 requiring the use of certified lead-safe paints in preparatory, elementary and secondary schools.

It will be recalled that DepEd issued D.O. 4 in view of the three-year phase-out period for lead-containing architectural, decorative and household paints that culminated last December 2016 as per Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds.

“Our collaborative action today signifies that it takes a whole community to make our schools safe from lead and other environmental toxins that can affect children’s growth and development during their critical formative years,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“We need everyone to be informed and involved to ensure a healthy learning environment for all children.  A lead-free school is an investment in our children’s health and future,” he emphasized.

According to D.O. 4, “the use of lead-safe paints shall reduce children’s exposure to toxic lead via lead-containing paint and dust, thus, avoiding health impacts including learning disabilities, anemia and disorders in coordination, visual, spatial, and language skills.”

“Children are exposed to lead from paint when lead-containing paint on walls, windows, doors or other painted surfaces begins to chip or deteriorate, since this causes lead to be released to dust and soil,” explained Jeiel Guarino, International Lead Paint Campaigner of IPEN, a global  NGO network pursuing safe chemicals policies and practices.,

“When a surface previously painted with lead paint is sanded or scraped in preparation for repainting, very large amounts of lead-contaminated dust is produced, which, when spread, can constitute a severe health hazard,” he explained.

During the Brigada Eskwela event, speakers reminded the participants that the compulsory use of lead-safe paints applies to school facilities (classrooms, library, playground, covered court, gate and fence), furniture (tables, chairs and cabinets), fixtures (blackboards), learning materials (teaching aids, school supplies and toys) and tools and equipment.

D.O. 4 also applies to paint-coated goods or products directly procured by the school as well as those sourced by other means such as through individual, group, corporate or local government donations.

D.O.4 states that all products donated or sold to schools such as, but not limited to, paints, bags, school supplies and furnishings by commercial and non-commercial establishments, as well as concerned individuals, must comply with the DENR A.O. 2013-24 and other relevant lead-related regulations.

Moreover, D.O. 4 calls for the proper removal and disposal of lead paints to prevent the generation and dispersal of lead-containing dust that children may ingest or inhale.

As part of the group’s “Toxic-Free Back-to-School Drive,” the EcoWaste Coalition has come up with the following reminders to prevent and reduce children’s and workers’ exposure to lead in paint and dust: 

1.  Use only certified lead-safe paints for school interiors, exteriors, furniture and fixtures, gymnasium, play equipment and other school amenities.

2.  Keep children and pregnant women out of the work area (lead is very hazardous to developing fetuses).

3.  Refrain from dry sanding or dry scraping painted surfaces that might contain lead so as not to disperse lead dust into the surroundings. 

4.  Clean up paint chips immediately.

5.  Use moist mop or rag to rid floors, windows, window frames and sills, chairs and tables and other surfaces of dust, and wash it thoroughly after use.

6. Wash hands properly with soap and water before meals and after the work is done.

7. After a repainting job, change clothes before going home, set aside in a sealed reusable bag and wash separately.

8.  Clean or remove shoes and slippers before entering your home to avoid bringing in soil that may contain lead into the house.

“Because of the long-term benefits of a lead-free environment to our children’s health, it is essential for all sectors to rally behind our nation’s efforts to phase out lead paints and address all sources of lead contamination and poisoning,” the EcoWaste Coalition stated.




12 May 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Pushes For Toxic-Free Brigada Eskwela to Avoid Waste and Pollution

An environmental and health watch group reminded participants for the week-long Brigada Eskwela that will commence on May 15 to stick to eco-friendly activities so as not to pollute the surroundings and endanger human health.

The EcoWaste Coalition reiterated that the school repair, renovation and maintenance activities should not add to garbage and pollution woes besetting many of our neighborhoods and communities.

“We appeal to all the Brigada Eskwela participants to refrain from acts like open trash burning, breaking busted fluorescent lamps or haphazardly removing lead-containing paints and coatings, which will only result in chemical pollution and cause adverse health effects,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Open burning generates minuscule toxins that can trigger headaches, bring about eye, throat and skin irritation, trigger asthma and heart attacks, and even lead to cancers and reproductive abnormalities in the long term, the group explained.

Throwing spent fluorescent lamps along with regular discards will cause their glass tubing to break and release the health-damaging mercury inside the tube in the form of vapor, it said.

Disturbing surfaces covered with lead-containing paints will generate and disperse paint chips and dust containing lead, which humans, especially young children, can ingest or inhale, it further said. 

Both mercury and lead are classified as a neurotoxin or a poisonous substance that acts on the brain and the central nervous system and disrupts the normal function of nerve cells.  These chemicals are highly toxic for children, pregnant women and workers. 

For a toxic-free Brigada Eskwela, the EcoWaste Coalition has come up with 15-point list of practical reminders that will prevent and reduce waste and pollution during the cleanup and renovation activities:

1.  Observe the proper segregation of discards at source to facilitate their recycling or composting, and to minimize the volume of garbage for disposal.

2.  Do not set trash on fire to prevent the generation of environmental pollutants such as fine particles, heavy metals and dioxins.

3.  Compost biodegradable discards such as yard trimmings to produce natural fertilizer or soil enhancer for the school garden.

4.  Clean up the school’s Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), also known as Ecology Center, including the containers or segregators for properly-labeled recyclable and compostable discards.

5.  Handle busted fluorescent lamps with care to prevent mercury spill; do not mix such lamps with ordinary trash, and properly store and dispose of them as hazardous waste.

6.  Choose safer cleaning agents and refrain from using hazardous substances that are corrosive to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract such as oxalic and muriatic acid.

7.  Use only certified lead-safe paints for school interiors, exteriors, furniture and fixtures, gymnasium, play equipment and other school amenities. 

8.  Keep children and pregnant women out of the work area (lead is very hazardous to developing fetuses).

9.  Refrain from dry sanding or dry scraping painted surfaces that might contain lead so as not to disperse lead dust into the surroundings.  

10.  Clean up paint chips immediately.

11.  Use moist mop or rag to rid floors, windows, window frames and sills, chairs and tables and other surfaces of dust, and wash it thoroughly after use.

12. Wash hands properly with soap and water before meals and after the work is done.

13. After a repainting job, change clothes before going home, set aside in a sealed reusable bag and wash separately.

14.  Clean or remove shoes and slippers before entering your home to avoid bringing in soil that may contain lead into the house.

15.  Keep the school premises smoke-free by not smoking or vaping.

The EcoWaste Coalition reiterated that the observance of the above tips conforms with key policies and requirements such as R.A. 9003 (the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act), R.A. 6969 (the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Act),  R.A. 9211 (the Tobacco Regulation Act), DENR A.O. 2013-24 (Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds), DepEd D.O. 04-2017 (Mandatory Use of Lead-Safe Paints in Schools) and DepEd DO 73-2010 (Smoking Ban in Public Schools).




09 May 2017

Brigada Eskwela 2017 Urged to Ensure Compliance to DepEd’s Order on Use of Lead-Safe Paints in Schools

An environmental watchdog group has enjoined the public to be mindful of children’s health and safety when buying and using paints for next week’s Brigada Eskwela school repair and maintenance week. 

The EcoWaste Coalition emphasized the importance of procuring lead-safe paints for decorating school facilities, amenities, furniture and fixtures in line with the Department of Education (DepEd) Department Order 4, series of 2017.

The said order issued by Education Secretary Leonor Briones last January 18 states that “the use of only lead-safe coatings or paints shall be mandatory to all pre-school, elementary and secondary schools.”

“The use of lead-safe paints shall reduce children’s exposure to toxic lead via lead-containing paint and dust, thus, avoiding health impacts including learning disabilities, anemia and disorders in coordination, visual, spatial, and language skills,” the order said.

“The enforcement of the DepEd’s directive will go a long way in reducing lead paint hazards in our schools.  For the health and safety of our children, we request our principals, teachers, parent leaders, donors and volunteers to join hands in ensuring that the directive is adhered to,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“Paint consumers now have access to a wider range of lead-safe decorative paints as more manufacturers have completed their switch to non-lead paint formulations,” he said.

To guide the Brigada Eskwela participants in the selection of paints that are suitable and permitted for school purposes, the EcoWaste Coalition put forward the following suggestions:

1.  Use water-based or latex decorative paints as much as possible as such paints are generally free of lead-based additives.

2.  If oil-based or enamel decorative paints are needed, especially for metal works, look for paints with the Lead Safe Paint® mark on the label, or find other independently certified products with no added lead.

Aside from directing the mandatory use of lead-safe paints, DepEd D.O. 4, s.2017 also stressed the importance of safely managing lead-coated surfaces during renovation activities “to prevent the generation and dispersal of lead-containing dust that children may ingest or inhale.”

To prevent the spread of lead dust, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded Brigada Eskwela participants not to disturb lead-coated surfaces by dry scraping or dry sanding as these methods can scatter and contaminate the surroundings with lead dust.

“Paint workers and volunteers should take precautions to control lead exposure on the job and to avoid bringing home lead dust on their clothes and shoes,” the group said.

To assist the authorities in promoting adherence to the policy, the EcoWaste Coalition will go school hopping this week to distribute copies of DepEd A.O. 4, as well as the group’s newly-printed “Lead-Free School” poster. 




07 May 2017

Toxic Squeaky Chicken Toy Banned in Europe, Sold in PH

Consumers should refrain from buying a cheap plastic chicken toy that makes a screaming sound when squeezed due to its toxic content.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit watch group on hazardous substances on products and wastes, revealed that the “Shrilling Chicken” toy sold in Divisoria, a popular hub for bargain hunters, may expose children to harmful chemicals. 

“This squeaky toy, which can be funny and entertaining, contains undisclosed plastic additives that may put kids at risk from exposure to health-damaging chemicals,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect. 

“Sold without the obligatory market authorization from the health authorities, this toy will not pass the quality and safety requirements due to its phthalate content above the regulatory limit,” he added.

Dizon cited the results of laboratory tests commissioned by the group indicating the presence of phthalates DEHP and DBP up to 19 percent and 13 percent, respectively, exceeding the government’s maximum allowable limit of 0.1 percent by weight.

Phthalates, which are added to make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic flexible and soft, are endocrine disrupting chemicals linked to various health problems, including genital abnormalities in boys such as malformed penises and undescended testicles, and the early onset of puberty for girls.  

“Sold for P35 to P45 a piece, this contraband toy does not provide any information regarding its manufacturer, importer or distributor aside from the usual ‘made in China’ tag,” he added.

To avoid chemical risk, European countries have rejected the imported Shrilling Chicken from China at the border, banned its marketing or ordered its withdrawal from the market.

Luxembourg banned the Shrilling Chicken in 2017, Spain in 2016, the Czech Republic in 2014 and Sweden in 2013.

Sweden, specifically banned the toy for containing another highly toxic substance known as short chain chlorinated paraffins (SCPPs).  Last week, the Stockholm Convention added SCPPs in the treaty list of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and banned its use in toys and children’s products.

Phthalate DEHP and SCPPs are “possibly carcinogenic to humans” according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

To avoid being exposed to these chemicals, the EcoWaste Coalition advised parents who have purchased “Shrilling Chicken” to keep the toy out of children’s reach or to dispose of it as hazardous waste. 

The group also appealed to retailers not to sell their remaining stocks of this unregistered toy and to return it to their source for proper disposal.

The EcoWaste Coalition further urged the Department of Health to enforce its own directive banning specific phthalates in toys.

As per DOH. A.O. 2009-005 as amended in 2011, “it shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture for sale, offer for sale, distribute in commerce, or import into the country any children’s toys that contain concentrations of more than 0.1 percent by weight of di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), or benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP).”