23 September 2017

Groups Raise the Alarm over Continued Sale of Dangerous Skin Whitening Creams Laced with Mercury (Government Urged to Go After Importers, Distributors and Retailers of Toxic Cosmetics)

Toxic mercury taints these imported skin whitening creams from China, Malaysia, Pakistan and Taiwan that are illegally sold in some cosmetic and Chinese medicine stores in the Philippines.

Chemical safety and consumer protection groups today revealed the unabashed trade of mercury-containing skin whitening products despite being illegal to import, distribute and sell.

The EcoWaste Coalition and Laban Konsyumer, Inc. made the exposé ahead of the first Conference of Parties (COP1) to the Minamata Convention on Mercury on September 24 to 29 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Minamata Convention, an international treaty, aims “to protect the human health and the environment from anthropogenic releases of mercury and mercury compounds.”  Among other things, it targets the phase-out of skin lightening products with mercury above one part per million (ppm).

“Contraband cosmetics containing mercury continue to be sold in several beauty product and Chinese medicine stores with their importers, distributors and retailers brazenly doing it with impunity.  Some retailers even give official receipts for illegal purchases,” observed Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“While the Minamata Convention sets a 2020 phase-out date for mercury-containing skin lightening creams and soaps, Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines, ban mercury in excess of 1 ppm under the heavy metal limits of the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive that were adopted in 2007,” he said.

To put an end to the illegal trade of mercury tainted cosmetics, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the government to crack down on smugglers through effective law enforcement activities.

Laban Konsyumer, Inc. echoed the EcoWaste Coalition’s call stressing the right of consumers to be protected against hazards to health and safety as guaranteed by the Consumer Act of the Philippines.
                                                                            
“We urge the authorities to prosecute those behind the illicit trade of mercury-containing skin whiteners and other cosmetics without the prerequisite product notifications.  Punishing the culprits to the fullest extent of Republic Act 9711 will send a strong message that our country is serious about protecting our consumers against mercury exposure via cosmetic use,” said Atty. Victorio Dimagiba, President of Laban Konsyumer, Inc.

RA 9711, or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Act, states that any person who violates the law shall, upon conviction, suffer the penalty of imprisonment from one to not more than 10 years or a fine of not less than P50,000 but not more than P500,000.  Stiffer penalties and fines await erring manufacturers, importers or distributors.

To draw attention to the continued proliferation of mercury-laden skin lightening products in the market,  the EcoWaste Coalition conducted test buys from September 16-21 covering 12 cities in Metro Manila and the provinces of Batangas, Bulacan, Laguna, Pampanga and Rizal. 

The group bought the non-notified imported skin whitening products from Chinese drugstores and  beauty product shops in Angeles, Antipolo, Biñan, Mabalacat, Malolos, Manila, Parañaque, Pasay, Quezon, San Jose del Monte, San Pedro and Tanauan Cities

Out of 35 products procured for P60 to P240 each and screened for mercury using an X-Ray Fluorescence device, 33 were found to contain mercury up to 46,000 ppm.

Among the samples that were found to contain over 5,000 ppm of mercury were Yudantang 6-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Cream (with 46,000 ppm), Yudantang  10-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle Spot & Double Whitening Sun Block Cream (38,400 ppm), Parley Herbal Beauty Cream with Avocado (16,200 ppm), Parley Beauty Cream (15,100 ppm), Golden Pearl Beauty Cream (10,500 ppm), Collagen Plus VitE Day & Night Cream (7,662 ppm) and Erna Whitening Cream (5,107 ppm). 

Several variants of Jiaoli and S’Zitang, the two most commonly available imported skin whitening creams, were found to contain mercury ranging from 591 to 4,719 ppm.

Both the EcoWaste Coalition and Laban Konsyumer appealed to the governments of China, Taiwan, Pakistan and others where the mercury-containing cosmetic imports are coming from to collaborate with the Philippine authorities to halt the illegal trade.

The country’s ratification of the Minamata Convention should help in promoting closer collaboration between governments in enforcing mercury control measures, including the phase-out of mercury-added products, the groups said.

According to the FDA, “mercury salts in cosmetic products inhibit the formation of melamin in the skin, resulting in a lighter skin tone.”

“There have been cases of adverse health effects brought about by highly toxic mercury in cosmetic products, such as kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring,” it warned.

“The transfer of mercury to fetuses of pregnant women may manifest as neurodevelopment deficits later in life,” the agency further warned.

The FDA has banned over135 mercury-containing skin lightening creams since 2010, including  80 brands that were discovered by the EcoWaste Coalition through its periodic market monitoring and chemicals in product analysis.

In 2015, the EcoWaste Coalition released the report “Beauty and the Risk,” co-published with IPEN (a global NGO working for safe chemicals policies and practices) showing the prevalence of mercury-tainted contraband skin whitening creams in the Philippines.

-end-

Reference:

http://www.mercuryconvention.org/

http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/1992/04/13/republic-act-no-7394-s-1992/
                                                                                                             

”Beauty and the Risk (A Civil Society Investigation on the Prevalence of Mercury-Laden

Skin Whitening Creams in 50 Cities in the Philippines),” EcoWaste Coalition/IPEN, 2015

12 September 2017

Stop the Killing... of the Oceans: Help Put a Stop to Plastic Pollution

Amid calls to end drug-related killings, a waste and pollution watch group has called attention to another type of “killing” that has to stop now. 

The EcoWaste Coalition, in observance of the National Cleanup Month, asked the government, industry and the citizenry to stop the killing of the world’s oceans, citing the dumping of millions of tons of plastic waste that is contaminating the marine ecosystems and lethally threatening aquatic organisms.

To prevent plastics and other discards from spilling from land to water courses and bodies, the group advocating for a zero waste and a toxic-free Philippines called for the genuine enforcement of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

The group pressed for the active implementation of R.A. 9003 as the Manila Bay Coastal Cleanup and Brand Audit organized by various green groups gets underway from September 11 to 20 at the Freedom Island in Parañaque City.

The nine-day cleanup and audit is organized by the Break Free from Plastic Movement, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Health Care Without Harm, Mother Earth Foundation, Samahan ng mga Nananambakan sa Dumpsite Area,  Samahan ng Muling Pagkabuhay Multi-Purpose Cooperative, and other groups.

“As we help in picking up the garbage along the polluted coastline of Manila Bay, we want to call attention to the urgent need to enforce R.A. 9003 in all local government units (LGUs) and component barangays to curb global plastic pollution that is killing the oceans,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coaltion.

R.A. 9003, among a long list of prohibitions, forbids and penalizes littering, open burning, open dumping, the manufacture, distribution or use of non-environmentally acceptable packaging materials, and the importation of toxic wastes misrepresented as “recyclable.”

“The national and local governments, businesses and industries and all other waste generators, including the households, must strive for the ‘adoption of best environmental practices in ecological solid waste management excluding incineration’ as required by R.A. 9003 and as recommended by the United Nations,” she emphasized.

“A national legislation banning single-use plastic bags and mainstreaming eco- alternatives is one of the key environmental policies that the country needs to adopt,” she pointed out.  

The United Nations Environment Assembly, which includes the Philippines as represented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), had pointed out that “(waste) prevention and the environmentally sound management of waste are keys to long-term success in combating marine pollution.”

The UN Environment (formerly the United Nations Environment Programme) had also recommended a ban or phase-out of thin film, single use plastic bags that choke marine life.

The EcoWaste Coalition lamented that the 16-year old R.A. 9003 remains poorly enforced with many LGUs failing to halt acts prohibited under the law from the ubiquitous littering to the non-closure of polluting dumpsites, and falling short of higher waste diversion targets.

For example, Metro Manila, which spends billions of pesos for garbage hauling and disposal, has a waste diversion rate of only 37%.  Waste diversion covers activities such as segregation at source, recycling, composting and other practices that reduce or eliminate the amount of wastes sent to disposal facilities.  

According to the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the metropolis  produces 9,499 tons of waste per day with per capita generation estimated at 0.265 to 1 kilo/person daily.  

Metro Manila’s waste is comprised biodegradable (44.32%), recyclable (31.64%), residuals (23.68) and special (0.36%) wastes. 

Plastics constitute 17.86% of waste generated in Metro Manila as per the MMDA’s Waste Analysis and Characterization Study.

-end-

Reference:

http://mmda.gov.ph/images/Home/Solid-Waste-Management-in-MM-2017.pdf

http://www.unep.org/gpa/infocus/countries-pass-second-resolution-marine-litter

http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/1993/09/03/proclamation-no-244-s-1993/


http://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/2003/09/15/proclamation-no-470-s-2003/

10 September 2017

Groups Push for Toy Safety with the Start of the ‘Ber’ Months


As the countdown to Christmas gets underway with the start of the “ber” months, the EcoWaste Coalition (a health and environment group) and Laban Konsyumer, Inc. (a consumer protection group) jointly urged the authorities to ensure consumer access to duly labeled safe toys in the market.

The groups’ appeal came on the heels of the latest toy sampling conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition revealing extensive non-compliance to Republic Act 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013.

Out of the 65 toy samples recently purchased from discount shops in Divisoria and in legitimate toy stores for P20 to P180 each, 63 were found to contain inadequate labeling information, which by law will make them “misbranded” or “banned hazardous substance.”


Laban Konsyumer, Inc. and the EcoWaste Coalition have repeatedly urged the health and trade departments to issue the Implementing Rules and Regulations for R.A. 10620, which have yet to be issued four years after the law was approved on September 3, 2013 by then President Benigno Aquino III.

“The long delay in the promulgation of the IRR does not serve R.A. 10620’s goal of promoting children’s right to safe toys, especially their right to accurate and complete product labeling to facilitate informed choice,” said Atty. Victorio Dimagiba, President,  Laban Konsyumer, Inc.


The EcoWaste Coalition and Laban Konsyumer pressed for toy safety law enforcement action to ensure that kids are protected against potential dangers to their health and safety from misbranded and hazardous toys.

Some toys may pose various hazards, including blunt force injury, burn, chemical, choking, electrical, eye injury, falling, ingestion, laceration, poisoning, puncture and strangulation hazards, the groups warned.

“We appeal to the authorities to remove misbranded and hazardous toys from store shelves in line with the country’s toy regulations,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

As per R.A. 10620, toys that fail to comply with the required labeling requirements “shall be considered a misbranded or banned hazardous substance.”

“A rigorous crackdown on unsafe toys ahead of the peak season for toy shopping in December is needed to protect our children who are very vulnerable to injuries and chemical risks,” Dizon added.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, toys and childcare articles with the required product notifications should contain the following labeling requirements: license to operate (LTO) number, age grade, cautionary statements/ warnings, instructional literature, item/ model/ stock keeping unit (SKU) number, and manufacturer’s marking, including the complete name and address of the manufacturer or distributor.

An examination of the product labels revealed that out of 65 samples, only 23 have the required License to Operate (LTO) number on the label.  The authenticity of the LTO numbers provided has yet to be determined.

Of the 65 samples, only 7 provided information about their manufacturers or their local importers or distributors.

Only 2 samples were found to be completely compliant with the government’s labeling requirements for toys.

R.A. 10620 states that non-compliant toys and games “shall be withdrawn from the market at the expense of the manufacturer or importer and shall not be allowed to be distributed, sold or offered for sale in the Philippines.”

The law requires the Department of Trade and Industry to “regularly publish every six months the list of all manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers who failed to comply with the requirements” of R.A. 10620.

It further requires the Department of Health to “publish every six months the list of all misbranded or banned hazardous substances the sale, offer for sale and distribution of which shall not be allowed” under R.A. 10620.

-end-

Reference:


08 September 2017

Group Tells Parents and Kids to Steer Clear of Lead-Laced Art Materials


The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit watch group on toxic chemicals, products and wastes, urged the public to shun art coloring products containing lead, a dangerous substance, especially for young children.

The group issued the statement after finding a lead-containing water color set on sale in the market despite being banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Last August 31, the FDA through Advisory No. 2017-26 warned the public against buying and using  Ultra Colours Jumbo Crayons and Xiao Yiren Water Color for containing lead above the maximum allowed limit of 90 parts per million (ppm).

This is the second time that the FDA banned a water color product for containing lead.   In 2014, it banned Artex Water Color for its excessive lead content as reported to the agency by the EcoWaste Coalition.

In test buys conducted on September 7, the group managed to purchase Xiao Yiren Water Color from a retail establishment in Sta. Cruz, Manila.

“We urge the public to steer clear of art coloring products laden with lead, a substance that is banned in the production of school supplies,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“We also appeal to concerned manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers to strictly observe the country’s regulatory policy that seeks to protect children from preventable sources of lead exposure,” he said.

“We further appeal to all local government units and law enforcement agencies to assist the FDA in ensuring that the banned products are not sold in their areas of jurisdiction,” he added.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, prohibits the use of lead in the manufacture of school supplies, toys, and other products.  It further sets a 90 ppm limit for lead in paint and provides for the phase-out of paints exceeding such limit.

According to the advisory signed by FDA Director General Nela Charade Puno, “lead is dangerous even at low exposure levels  producing a spectrum of injury across multiple body systems.”

“Lead affects children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioral changes such as reduced attention span and increased anti-social behavior, and reduced educational attainment,” the FDA warned.

“Their hand-to-mouth behaviors, as well as their innate curiosity, predisposed them to put objects in their mouth resulting to unintended exposure to multiple hazardous substances such as lead,” the FDA said.

The FDA has strongly advised the public to buy and use art coloring products and school supplies that are registered/notified with the agency, supplied or distributed by FDA-licensed establishments and sold by legitimate outlets. 

Republic Act No. 9711 (the FDA Act), as well as Republic Act No. 7394 (Consumer Act of the Philippines), prohibit the manufacture, distribution, sale or offering for sale or use, advertisement, promotion, and transport, among others, of health products that are unregistered, adulterated or misbranded.

-end-

Reference:

http://www.fda.gov.ph/advisories-2/cosmetic-2/458304-fda-advisory-no-2017-260

http://www.fda.gov.ph/advisories/14-cosmetic/162436-fda-advisory-2014-044

06 September 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Slams Illegal Sale of Misbranded and Hazardous Toys in the Market (Health and Safety Advocacy Group Urges Government to Crack Down on Dangerous Toys)


As the Christmas countdown commenced with the start of the “ber” months, a health and safety advocacy group urged the authorities to crack down on dangerous toys in the market.

“We appeal to the authorities to remove misbranded and hazardous toys from store shelves in line with the country’s toy regulations,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“A rigorous crackdown on unsafe toys ahead of the peak season for toy shopping in December is needed to protect our children who are very vulnerable to injuries and chemical risks,” he added.

The EcoWaste Coalition pressed for toy safety law enforcement action to ensure that kids are protected against potential dangers to their health and safety from misbranded and hazardous toys.

Some toys may pose various hazards, including blunt force injury, burn, chemical, choking, electrical, eye injury, falling, ingestion, laceration, poisoning, puncture and strangulation hazards, the group warned.

The group’s appeal came on the heels of its latest toy sampling revealing extensive non-compliance to Republic Act 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013.

As per R.A. 10620, toys that fail to comply with the required labeling requirements “shall be considered a misbranded or banned hazardous substance.”

Out of the 65 toy samples purchased from discount shops in Divisoria and in legitimate toy stores for P20 to P180 each, 63 were found to contain inadequate labeling information, which by law will make them “misbranded” or “banned hazardous substance.”

According to the Food and Drug Administration, toys and childcare articles with the required product notifications should contain the following labeling requirements: license to operate (LTO) number, age grade, cautionary statements/ warnings, instructional literature, item/ model/ stock keeping unit (SKU) number, and manufacturer’s marking, including the complete name and address of the manufacturer or distributor.

Based on the group’s scrutiny of the product labels, the EcoWaste Coalition revealed that out of 65 samples, only 23 have the required License to Operate (LTO) number on the label.  The authenticity of the LTO numbers provided has yet to be determined.

Of the 65 samples, only 7 provided information about their manufacturers or their local importers or distributors.

Only 2 samples were found to be completely compliant with the government’s labeling requirements for toys.

R.A. 10620 states that non-compliant toys and games “shall be withdrawn from the market at the expense of the manufacturer or importer and shall not be allowed to be distributed, sold or offered for sale in the Philippines.”

The law requires the Department of Trade and Industry to “regularly publish every six months the list of all manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers who failed to comply with the requirements” of R.A. 10620.

It further requires the Department of Health to “publish every six months the list of all misbranded or banned hazardous substances the sale, offer for sale and distribution of which shall not be allowed” under R.A. 10620.

The EcoWaste Coalition and Laban Konsyumer, Inc. have repeatedly pressed the health and trade departments to issue the Implementing Rules and Regulations for R.A. 10620, which have yet to be promulgated four years after the law was approved on September 3, 2013 by then President Benigno Aquino III.

-end-

Reference:


04 September 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Finds Imported Kiddie Furniture Coated with Lead Paint, Urges Government to Seize Dangerous Products to Avoid Children’s Exposure to Lead



A watch group on toxic chemicals, products and wastes, today urged the authorities to stop the illegal sale of imported children’s chairs due to violations of the country’s lead paint standard.

The EcoWaste Coalition said the yellow surface paint on the metal frame of the children’s furniture in question contained high concentrations of lead in excess of 90 parts per million (ppm), a violation of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24.

The group obtained the imported products on September 2 and 4  from discount stores in Caloocan and Pasay Cities for P180 for a chair with backrest and "SpongeBob SquarePants" design and P125 for a folding chair with a "Fiore" design.

The totally unlabeled products lack the required market authorization from health authorities in the form of toy and childcare article (TCCA) notifications.

As per the group’s screening using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, the yellow paint on the metal tube frame of the chair with backrest had a total lead content of 1,171 ppm, while that of the folding chair had 1,256 ppm.

“We urge the authorities to seize these chairs marketed for children and have them returned to their manufacturer at the expense of their importer or distributor,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of  the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“At the same time, we remind consumers to exercise their rights to be informed and to be protected against hazardous goods that may expose young children to health-damaging chemicals like lead,” he added.

The EcoWaste Coalition warned that the leaded paint on the metal frame will break or chip over time, spreading hazardous flakes and dust in the surroundings that children can ingest through their usual hand-to-mouth behavior.

DENR A.O. 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, prohibits total lead content above 90 ppm in architectural, decorative and household paints. 

Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Memorandum Circular 2016-010 further clarified that the use of paints with more than 90 ppm of lead in toys and children’s products, including home furnishings like chairs, shall be prohibited by December 31, 2016.

According to a report on “Childhood Lead Poisoning” by the World Health Organization (WHO), “the  consequences  of   brain  injury  from  exposure  to  lead  in  early  life are  loss  of   intelligence,  shortening  of   attention  span  and  disruption  of  behavior.”


“The  human  brain  has  little  capacity  for  repair,  these effects  are  untreatable  and  irreversible.  They cause diminution in brain function and reduction in achievement that last throughout life,” the WHO pointed out.

The WHO has warned that “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,” stressing “there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe.”

-end-

Reference:

http://chemical.emb.gov.ph/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/MC-2016-010.pdf
http://server2.denr.gov.ph/uploads/rmdd/dao-2013-24.pdf

http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/childhoodpoisoning/en/

02 September 2017

Group Laments Five-Year Delay in the Enforcement of Manila’s Plastic Bag Ordinance


The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watch group, bewailed the delay in the implementation of a key environmental measure that could have helped the City of Manila in reducing its garbage woe.

“This year marks the fifth anniversary of 
Manila’s plastic bag ordinance, which regrettably remains unimplemented to this day,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Manila City Ordinance No. 8282 was signed on September 3, 2012 by then Mayor Alfredo Lim.  The city government imposed a
 one-year moratorium on its implementation  to enable businesses to make the needed adjustments.

The ordinance prohibits 
the use of any form of plastic bags on dry goods and regulates their use on wet goods.

It also bans the use of polystyrene and similar materials for food, produce and other products.


“We call upon Mayor Joseph Estrada to give Ordinance 8282 the chance to help the city in cutting its plastic waste, in unclogging the esteros, and in reducing the money spent for cleanup and disposal,” appealed Alejandre.


According to 2013 Commission on Audit year-end reports, Metro Manila spent P4.221 billion in combined garbage hauling expenses, with Manila spending over P512 million.


“The unrestrained sale, use and disposal of 
plastic bags in the city contributes to the destruction of Manila Bay, which the government is striving to clean up, rehabilitate and preserve as ordered by the Supreme Court in 2008,” he noted.

“Enforcing the plastic bag ordinance will stir Manile
ños into shifting to reusable bags and containers, which will help in restoring Manila Bay and other  polluted water bodies,” he added.

Waste audits conducted at the Manila Bay in 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2016 by the EcoWaste Coalition, 
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Mother Earth Foundation and other groups revealed alarming quantities of plastic marine litter in the bay.

The waste audit conducted in 2016, for example, collected 1,482 kilos of trash, 79 percent of which were assorted 
plastic materials, comprising of junk food wrappers and sachets (20 percent), plastic bags (17 percent), composite packaging (12 percent), food packaging (9 percent), polystyrene containers (7 percent), diaper liners (7 percent), hard plastics (4 percent), drinking straw 1 (percent) and plastic twine (1 percent).

-end-