30 May 2018

Groups Slam Sale of Candy Cigarettes for Promoting Smoking in Children

Two health and environmental networks deplored the sale of candy products imitating the names and packaging of cigarette brands for subliminally encouraging kids to smoke.

As the 2018 World No Tobacco Day is observed on May 31, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance, Philippines (FCAP) and the EcoWaste Coalition expressed strong disapproval over the sale of candy cigarettes and asked the authorities to rid the market of such products. 

FCAP and the EcoWaste Coalition called for a government’s crackdown on candy cigarettes after the latter procured cheap white chalky candy sticks in small boxes resembling tobacco brands and packaging from a candy wholesaler at a public market in Quezon City.

The candy cigarettes, which are not registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are sold for P22 per package of 24 packs and bear the names of Chamption, Harlem, Hoke, Komel, Marlbovo, Nore, Thullip Norris, Tahomo and Winson.  

“Candy cigarettes desensitize children to the dangers of smoking, falsely instilling in their impressionable minds that smoking is harmless.  Such a subliminal promotion of tobacco use entices children to try smoking and must be stopped to save our children from cigarette addiction later in life,” stated Dr. Maricar Limpin, Executive Director, FCAP.

“The sale of candy cigarettes, which makes smoking looks cool in the eyes of a child, undermines the public health objective of cutting tobacco use among the Filipino youth.  Action is needed to halt this irresponsible marketing gimmick that can influence a child to get hooked on smoking in the future,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner,  EcoWaste Coalition. 

FCAP and the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized that the prohibition on candies resembling cigarette branding will help in reducing tobacco consumption in Filipino children and youth.  

The crackdown on candy cigarettes, the groups said, will be in line with FDA Advisory 2018-08 issued January 23 warning the public against the purchase and use of unregistered candy cigarettes and requesting local government units and law enforcement agencies to ensure that such products are not sold in their localities or areas of jurisdiction.

“The public is advised not to purchase and use these candy products or any other food products that resemble the packaging and labeling of cigarette brands, as these might encourage smoking to the consumers, especially children,” the FDA advisory pointed out.  

For FCAP and the EcoWaste Coalition, the removal of candy cigarettes from the market will boost the country’s ongoing programs to curb tobacco addiction, a leading cause of illness, death and impoverishment.

Tobacco epidemic, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), kills more than seven million people a year, of which over 6 million of those deaths are due to direct tobacco use and around 890,000 are due to non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

According to the WHO, tobacco waste contains over 7,000 chemicals that poison the environment and that tobacco smoke emissions contribute thousands of tons of human carcinogens, toxicants and greenhouse gases to the environment, with cigarette butts accounting for the largest type of litter by count globally.





29 May 2018

With the Brigada Eskwela in Full Swing: Schools Reminded to Observe Ban on Open Burning

As the yearly Brigada Eskwela goes in full swing, a waste and pollution watch group reminded school heads and the general public to be mindful of the ban on the open burning of trash.

“Open burning is prohibited under the country’s pollution prevention laws, particularly R.A. 9003 and R.A. 8749 and must be strictly observed to save valuable resources from turning into smoke and ash, and to avoid the discharge of air toxins that can endanger human health,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

R.A. 9003 is the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and R.A. 8749 is the Clean Air Act.  

“Unknown to many, the burning of garbage, especially chlorinated waste materials, produces highly hazardous by-product pollutants such as dioxins and furans, which are dangerous to human health even at low levels,” Alejandre said.

Aside from dioxins, open burning yields other environmental pollutants such as particulate matter or PM; greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide; arsenic, cadmium, lead,  mercury and other heavy metals; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; volatile organic compounds; and formaldehyde.

These pollutants are known to cause a range of health effects, including headaches, eye, throat and skin irritation, impaired respiratory functions, aggravated asthma and chronic bronchitis, heart attacks and cancers, the group said.

For a healthier and safer Brigada Eskwela, the EcoWaste Coalition urged schools to observe the following pollution prevention and reduction tips:

1.  Repair rather than junk, dispose of or replace broken school essentials.

2.  Share unwanted stuff with others instead of burning or tossing them to the bins.

3.  Sort, do not mix, discards from cleanup efforts.

4.  Reuse, repurpose, and recycle non-biodegradable discards like paper, cardboard, bottle and can.

5. Compost yard trimmings and biodegradable discards in the school composting area.  

6.  Avoid dry sanding, dry scraping and other improper methods of removing lead-painted surfaces to prevent the spread of lead dust.

7.  Safely manage "special waste" such as busted fluorescent lamps, broken computers and TVs, etc. in an environmentally-sound manner.

Observing ecological waste management principles and practices during the Brigada Eskwela and beyond will be beneficial to public health and the environment, the EcoWaste Coalition noted.

It will be in keeping with DepEd’s Department Order No.5, series of 2014, which, among other things, highlights the role of public schools in the promotion and implementation of R.A. 9003, including waste minimization, segregation at source, reduction, recycling, reusing and composting, the group said.

It will also support the country’s efforts to prevent and reduce the formation of dioxins and other toxic by-products of waste combustion in line with the goals of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) of which the Philippines is a state party.



28 May 2018

EcoWaste Coalition Pitches for Waste-Free and Lead-Safe Brigada Eskwela

School officials, parents, teachers, students and environmental advocates from the EcoWaste Coalition pitch for waste-free and lead-safe school cleanup, repair and renovation activities at the launch of the annual Brigada Eskwela at San Vicente Elementary School in Quezon City.

As the annual Brigada Eskwela of the Department of Education (DepEd) gets underway, a waste and pollution watch group exhorted all participants to work in concert to ensure a healthy and safe school environment that is conducive to children’s learning and development.
At the festive launch of the Brigada Eskwela at San Vicente Elementary School (SVES) in Quezon City, the EcoWaste Coalition pitched for practical measures to prevent environmental pollution during the week-long cleanup, repair, and renovation of school facilities.

The group teamed up with the SVES and the Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines, Inc., which provided certified lead-safe Boysen and Nation paints, to stir up awareness and compliance with DepEd’s environmental policies towards a pollution-free Brigada Eskwela.

“Our effort to make this year’s Brigada Eskwela more eco-friendly, we hope, will result to a cleaner and safer school environment that our students and teachers deserve to enjoyall-year round,” stated Antonio Miranda, Principal, SVES.

Speaking at the Brigada Eskwela launch, EcoWaste Coalition campaigners pointed out that school heads and other Brigada Eskwela partakers should be on their guard against the improper disposal of discards and the inappropriate use of lead-containing paints.

“The entry and use of lead-containing paints should be strictly forbidden to avoid creating a lead poisoning hazard within the school premises that DepEd is aiming to avert with the issuance of directives requiring the mandatory use of lead-safe paints,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Dizon referred to DepEd policies issued in 2017, particularly Department Order 4 requiring the “mandatory use of lead-safe paints in schools” and Department Order 64 specifying “paint materials must be independently certified lead-safe paints/coatings” as part of the minimum performance standards and specifications for DepEd school buildings.

For his part, Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition, said: “The open dumping and burning of discards from the school-wide cleanup operations should not be allowed as these polluting practices go against DepEd’s commitment to put ecological waste management into effect in schools all over the country.”

Alejandre cited DepEd Department Order 5, series of 2014, which among other provisions, enjoins schools to conduct waste prevention and reduction activities, including enforcing the prohibition on littering and burning of trash, in line with Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

For a healthier and safer Brigada Eskwela, the EcoWaste Coalition urged participants to consider the following suggestions:

1.  Sort discards at source instead of mixing them altogether.    
2.  Compost biodegradable discards, and reuse, repurpose and recycle the rest.
3.  Say no to open dumping and open burning.

4.  Shun hazardous cleaning agents such as muriatic acid, sodium hypochlorite (bleach), and oxalic acid.
5.  Pick lead-safe paints for decorating classrooms, chairs and tables, library, canteen, playground, and other school amenities.
6.  Avoid dry sanding or dry scraping lead painted surfaces to prevent lead dust from spreading.  
7.  Safely handle and manage busted mercury-containing fluorescent lamps to prevent breakage.

8.  Observe “no smoking policy.”

9.  Use reusable or recyclable containers for volunteers’ drinks and foods.
10.  Wash hands properly with soap and water before meals and after the work is done.



26 May 2018

EcoWaste Coalition Tells Schools to Watch Out for Banned Leaded Paints (Group Seeks Full Compliance to Mandatory Use of Lead-Safe Paints in Brigada Eskwela)

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watch group, reminded school heads and teachers to keep a vigilant eye on lead-containing decorative paints that are illegal to use in schools.

The group issued the reminder in time for next week’s Brigada Eskwela, an annual project of the Department of Education (DepEd) to prepare school facilities for the resumption of classes. 

“We call upon all school heads and teachers to exercise the utmost vigilance to ensure that banned leaded paints are not used to decorate classroom walls, windows, doors, desks, and tables, and other school amenities during the Brigada Eskwela,” appealed Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.   

Lead-containing decorative paints that are typically used for homes, schools, daycare centers, and playgrounds, as well as for toys and other children’s products, have been phased out effective December 31, 2016 in line with DENR’s Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, the group said.

“It is likely that old stocks of lead-containing paints are still available in hardware stores and unknowingly sold to uninformed buyers.  Paint consumers have the right to be protected against hazards to health and should insist on lead-safe paints at all times,” Dizon warned.   

The group reiterated the need for Brigada Eskwela participants to abide by Department Order No. 4, series of 2017, which requires the “mandatory use of lead-safe paints in schools.” 

“It is our shared responsibility to keep leaded paints out of the school environment to thwart a globally recognized source of childhood lead exposure,” he emphasized.

DepEd issued the said order at the request of the EcoWaste Coalition, an advocate for lead-free school, to prevent and control children’s exposure to lead through the ingestion of lead-contaminated paint chip, dust, and soil.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones reinforced her earlier directive by issuing Department Order 64 in December 2017, which affirms the use of “independently certified lead-safe paints” as part of the minimum performance standards and specifications for DepEd school buildings. 

While lead exposure can adversely affect almost every organ and system, lead exerts toxic effects on the brain and the central nervous system and is most harmful to young children.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “lead can affect children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient, behavioral changes such as reduced attention span and increased anti-social behavior, and reduced educational attainment.”

“There is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe,” according to WHO, which considers lead among the “ten chemicals of major public health concern.”



24 May 2018

Watch Group Calls for Removal of Toxic School Supplies from the Market (Group says: Cadmium and lead do not belong in school supplies; keep them off your back-to-school buying list)

Highly toxic cadmium and lead  do not belong in school supplies that are meant to help kids with their education and development.

At a press briefing in Quezon City, the EcoWaste Coalition, a watch group on toxic chemicals, products, and wastes, pressed for the market removal of school supplies laden with health-damaging hazardous substances such as cadmium and lead amid the back-to-school shopping frenzy.

The group sought the removal of unsafe school supplies after tests confirmed high concentrations of cadmium and lead in crayons, watercolor sets, backpacks and raincoat procured by the group from various retail outlets in Manila and sent to a government-accredited private laboratory for analysis.

“Children’s products such as school supplies should not pose toxic health risks to their young users.  To reduce the possibility of exposures, parents should be cautious and keep hazardous substances like cadmium and lead off their back-to-school buying list.  Unsafe school supplies should be withdrawn from the market and disposed of properly,” stated Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Health expert Dr. Visitacion Antonio of the East Avenue Medical Center said: “Children have little control over products marketed for their use like school supplies.  It is therefore important for us, adults, to ensure children’s access to safe products to avoid chemical exposures even at low levels that may result in negative health effects, including damage to the brain and the central nervous system.”

As per laboratory test reports,  Artex Fine Water Colors (yellow cake), MPC Classique Water Colors (yellow cake) and Fairyland Crayons (orange stick) had 22,300, 5,500 and 200 parts per million (ppm) of lead, way above the 90 ppm regulatory limit.  While a McQueen backpack and a “Ben 10” polyvinyl chloride (PVC) raincoat contained 500 and 190 ppm of lead.

Backpacks with “Frozen” and “Hello Kitty” characters tested positive for cadmium at 970 and 780 ppm, respectively, exceeding the 95 ppm limit.  The lead-containing “Ben 10” PVC raincoat was also found to contain 370 ppm of cadmium.

The EcoWaste Coalition revealed that despite the prohibition on their sale by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), lead-tainted Artex, MPC Classique and Fairyland art materials are still being sold in the market, pointing to the need to strictly enforce product recall order. 

The group explained that children are most easily exposed to lead, cadmium and other hazardous substances because they tend to breathe more air, drink more water and eat more food compared to adults; they tend to put their fingers or objects to their mouths and thus increase the potential to ingest toxicants in dust or soil; and because their brains, bodies and immune systems are still developing.

Listed among the “ten chemicals of major public health concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO), cadmium and lead are highly hazardous and can generate a wide range of negative health effects, especially in fetuses and children.
According to WHO, cadmium “exerts toxic effects on the kidneys, the skeletal and respiratory systems, and is classified as a human carcinogen.”

“Lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems,” said WHO, stressing 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.”

To protect children from being exposed to unsafe school supplies, the EcoWaste Coalition urged consumers to consider these buying tips:

1.  Do not buy school supplies like art materials banned by the FDA due to their toxic content.

2.  Avoid buying PVC-made school supplies that may contain prohibited or restricted toxic additives.

3.  Refrain from buying painted school supplies unless certified as lead-safe.

4.  Check the product label, including hazard warnings and safety precautions.

5.  Choose school supplies that are notified/registered with the FDA, and supplied, distributed and sold by FDA-licensed establishments.




20 May 2018

Schools Urged to Emphasize Lead Safety in Brigada Eskwela (Group Seeks Full Compliance to DepEd Orders on Mandatory Use of Lead-Safe Paints)

A waste and pollution watch group exhorted the country’s public elementary and secondary schools to make lead safety part of the annual Brigada Eskwela on May 28 to June 2.  

In line with Department Order No. 4 issued by Education Secretary Leonor Briones in January 2017, the EcoWaste Coalition urged school heads to ensure full compliance to the “mandatory use of lead-safe paints in schools.” 

DepEd issued the said order at the request of the EcoWaste Coalition, an advocate for lead-free school, to prevent and control children’s exposure to lead through the ingestion of lead-contaminated paint chip, dust and soil in the school environment.

In December 2017, Briones  issued Department Order No. 64 detailing the minimum performance standards and specifications for DepEd school buildings. “Paints materials must be independently certified lead-safe paints/coatings,” according to the said order. 

“We laud Education Secretary Briones for her steadfast commitment to promote a lead-safe school environment for Filipino children as contained in Department Orders 4 and 64, series of 2017.  Strict compliance to these orders is crucial to stop the entry and use of lead-containing architectural, decorative and household (ADH) paints in all schools following the completion of the three-year phase-out for such paints last December 2016,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The effective enforcement of these orders will also help in reducing the creation and dispersion of lead-tainted paint chip, dust and soil from the Brigada Eskwela school cleanup and renovation activities that children may ingest or inhale,” he added.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, “the most common lead hazards in schools are lead-based paint, lead dust and contaminated soil.”

Exposure to lead can permanently damage the brain and the central nervous system, impair growth and development, and cause learning and behavioral problems, the EcoWaste Coalition warned.

“As there is no safe threshold for lead exposure, we need to pay serious attention on eliminating preventable lead pollution sources such as lead-containing paints in our homes, schools and communities,” Dizon said.  

“D.O. 4-2017 is by far the most important lead poisoning prevention directive made by the DepEd complementing the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources,” he said.

According to D.O. 4-2017, the use of independently certified lead-safe paints/coatings is mandatory to all painting and/or repainting works of school facilities, furniture, fixtures, learning materials and tools and equipment. 

The said D.O. 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.

To drum up awareness and compliance to the ban on lead-containing ADH paints, the EcoWaste Coalition will distribute posters to Metro Manila schools announcing the phase-out of such paints.

During the week of the Brigada Eskwela, the EcoWaste Coalition will deploy a roving team targeting Quezon City schools to promote compliance to D.O. 4-2017



19 May 2018

Group Pushes for Product Safety Monitoring of School Supplies

As retailers enjoy brisk business with the opening of classes for School Year 2018-2019 on the way, a consumer and environmental protection group called on the authorities to intensify ongoing product safety monitoring of school supplies.

The EcoWaste Coalition pressed government regulators to keep an eye on the safety of school supplies from hazardous substances as some items on store shelves may not conform with product standards and regulations.    

The group made the suggestion following the on-the-spot inspection on May 18 of retail outlets selling school supplies in Caloocan City by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) representatives.

“We surely support the government’s effort to check business compliance with the suggested retail prices (SRPs) for notebooks, writing pads, pencils, ballpens, crayons, erasers, sharpeners and rulers as contained in the DTI’s shopping guide for school supplies,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“However, the current list of school supplies being monitored should be expanded to include other must-have back-to-school items such as bags, shoes, water color sets and others.  Also, the monitoring should cover compliance with the SRPs as well as product safety requirements,” he said.

“Consumers should be assured of access to affordable as well as quality and non-toxic school supplies that will not pose health risk to children,” he emphasized.

To drive their point home, the EcoWaste Coalition on May 18 procured school bags from four retail establishments in Caloocan City and had them screened for lead, a substance that is highly toxic to a child’s brain, using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence device.

The bags, sold for P130 to P309 each, do not provide basic labeling information about their manufacturers, much less about their chemical composition, the group observed.

Of the eight school bags bought and analyzed, six were found to contain lead in the range of 679 to 3,588 parts per million (ppm).   

Lead is prohibited in the manufacture of school supplies as per DENR Administrative Order 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, which also bans the use of paints with lead content above 90 ppm in the production of toys and a wide array of children’s products after December 31, 2016.

In the US, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act requires that “all children’s products must not contain a concentration of lead greater than 90 ppm in paint or any similar surface coatings.”  This rule also applies to all accessible component parts of a children’s product.

Studies have shown that lead exposure early in life can result in serious and irreversible damage to children's developing brains, and cause decreased intelligence, poor reading and language skills, hearing loss, aggression, attention deficit disorder and other behavioral problems.

"For our children's health, we need to get rid of all preventable sources of childhood exposure to lead, including lead-tainted consumer products such as school supplies and toys," the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out. 



https://www.dti.gov.ph/media/ advisories/11985-gabay-school- supplies-srp
https://chemical.emb.gov.ph/ wp-content/uploads/2017/03/MC- 2016-010.pdf
https://www.cpsc.gov/Business- -Manufacturing/Business- Education/Lead/Total-Lead- Content

15 May 2018

EcoWaste Coalition Promotes Creative and Safe Recycling of Poll Campaign Materials

Photo courtesy of Manny Palmero, ABS-CBN News

Now that the people have spoken through ballots cast in yesterday's Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls, the EcoWaste Coalition today drew attention to a practical opportunity for citizens to trim down campaign trash disposal through creative and safe recycling.

Instead of dumping or burning campaign discards, the zero waste advocacy group urged the public to think out of the box and find ways to extend the life of used campaign materials such as leaflets, sample ballots, and posters.

“Sorting the campaign materials into paper, cardboard, plastic and other classifications will help in finding new uses for them," said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

"Reusing, repurposing or recycling the campaign materials will conserve valuable resources from being wasted, while reducing the volume of discards requiring disposal and its associated costs," he said.  

To foster creative and safe recycling, the EcoWaste Coalition today organized a simple DIY (do it yourself) event featuring innovative and functional ways of reusing campaign materials.

With the re-opening of classes just around the corner, cardboard posters can be transformed into useful school supplies like book cover, bookmarks. envelopes, folders and name plates, as well as teaching aids like flash cards and "tell the time" clock.  

With some imagination, cardboard posters can be made into decorative items like picture and mirror frames and ref magnets.

Candidates' publicity flyers and sample ballots can be turned into drawing, memo or scratch pads.  

As for the ubiquitous plastic tarpaulins, these sturdy campaign materials can be sewn into various types of bags, aprons, and organizers for carpentry and garden tools, letters and bills, etc.

In addition, tarpaulins can also be reused as a sunshade for jeepneys, tricycles and pedicabs, or as a canopy for homes and shops.

However, plastic tarpaulins should only be repurposed for non-food and non-child applications as these often contain toxic additives such as cadmium, which may leach and contaminate the food or expose children to chemical hazards," reminded Alejandre who also noted that repurposing such  tarpaulins as a stop gap measure.  

The EcoWaste Coalition had earlier advised poll candidates to use eco-friendly campaign materials, and to avoid those that contain hazardous substances such as cadmium-laden tarpaulins.


14 May 2018

EcoWaste Coalition Scores Littering, Smoking at Barangay and SK Polling Places

Photos above were taken today at Fernando Ma. Guerrero Elementary School, Pedro Gil St., Manila and its vicinity.

As the synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections get underway, a waste and pollution watchdog reiterated its appeal to the electorate to keep the polling places litter-free, as well as smoke-free.

“The schools where most of the polling precincts are located should be free from garbage and tobacco pollution.  We therefore urge the public not to pollute the school environment with litter and smoke,” stated Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We have to issue this last-minute reminder after finding sample ballots and other campaign materials scattered in some polling places in Makati and Manila, especially at the school entrance,” he said.

“In one school in Manila, we even find supporters of some candidates smoking inside the school compound,” he added.

“With voting to continue until 3:00 pm, school heads can still do something to ensure full observance of their ‘no littering,’ ‘no smoking’ policy.  The least they can do is to grab the microphone and make the necessary public announcement against dropping litter and smoking within the school facilities,” he said. 

The group also appealed to the members of the electoral board, poll watchers, poll volunteers, and other election stakeholders to be mindful of their discards.

“Kindly put your discards into their dedicated receptacles.  Most schools will have segregated waste bins for biodegradable and non-biodegradable discards.  Please use them properly and do not simply leave your beverage and food containers and leftovers inside the polling areas,” Alejandre said.

The EcoWaste Coalition noted that the Department of Education has promulgated policies towards the promotion of litter-free and tobacco-free schools.

Under DepEd Order No. 5, series of 2014, schools are enjoined to conduct activities that will enforce the prohibition on littering and burning of wastes as per Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. 

DepEd Order No. 48, series of 2016, on the other hand, reiterates the smoking ban in school premises, as well as compliance monitoring of tobacco control measures for stores outside the schools.  


Note: The EcoWaste Coalition today had the chance of visiting the Fernando Ma. Guerrero Elementary School (Pedro Gil St.Manila), Margarita Roxas de Ayala Elementary School (A. Francisco St., Manila), Villamor High School (Pasig Line, Manila), Francisco Benitez Elementary School (Visita St., Makati) and the Jose Magsaysay Elementary School (Constancia St., Makati).  

12 May 2018

Barangay, SK Poll Candidates Urged to Shift to Clean-Up Mode with the Conclusion of Nine-Day Campaign Period (Group Challenged Candidates to Dedicate May 15 for Post-Election Ecological Cleanup and Recycling Activities)

As the official campaign period for the May 14 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls comes to a halt tomorrow, a waste and pollution watch group challenged all candidates to now switch to the clean-up mode.

In a bid to promote ecological clean-up of the nine-day campaign mess, the EcoWaste Coalition dared Barangay and SK candidates poll candidates to, win or lose, clear their respective communities of campaign posters as soon as the vote counting is over.

“As the grueling campaign has finally concluded, we ask all candidates to change gears and plan for the ecological clean-up of posters and other propaganda materials in their neighborhoods.  Regardless of the poll results, please shift to the clean-up mode,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Voluntarily removing all remnants of the campaign frenzy is a nice way of expressing magnanimity in victory, as well as graciousness in defeat,” he said.

“We hope poll candidates and their supporters will exert the same effort, time and resources they have invested during the campaign period for post-election ecological cleanup and recycling activities on May 15," he added. 

The EcoWaste Coalition emphasized that such activities should be undertaken in an eco-friendly manner that will not pose hazards to community health and the environment.

To minimize such hazards, the group emphasized the need for the candidates and their supporters to be mindful of acts prohibited under key environmental laws such as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act,  Clean Air Act, and the Clean Water Act.

"Dumping campaign discards on streets, vacant lots, storm drains and water bodies, or setting them on fire are forbidden by our laws to protect public health and the environment," Alejandre said.

"Discarded campaign materials should be segregated, not mixed altogether, to facilitate their proper recycling or disposal," he said.

Alejandre warned against the open burning of campaign materials, particularly those made out of chlorinated compounds such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic tarpaulins.

"Aside from particle pollution, the open burning of trash may cause the formation and discharge of dioxins, a group of highly toxic chemicals resulting from combustion processes," he said.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, "dioxins are highly toxic and can cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, damage to the immune system, and can interfere with hormones."

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), of which the Philippines is a state party, calls for global reduction of byproduct POPs such as dioxins and, where feasible, their ultimate elimination.

"The post-campaign clean-up should not lead to human exposure to dioxins and other environmental pollutants," the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized.   


https://www.epa.gov/dioxin/lea rn-about-dioxin
http://chm.pops.int/TheConvent ion/Overview/tabid/3351/Defaul t.aspx

11 May 2018

FDA Urged to Ban Plastic Balloon Blowing Toys Containing Benzene and Other Harmful Chemicals

The EcoWaste Coalition today urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban plastic balloon blowing kits containing benzene and other harmful substances to protect children from the adverse health effects of such cheap but dangerous play things.

The non-profit toxics watch group made the suggestion following the issuance of FDA Advisory No. 2018-152 warning the public about the dangers of using unnotified or unregistered plastic balloon blowing kits, including the risks of inhaling  benzene or acetone vapor, lead poisoning, skin laceration and choking. 

The group pointed out that two chemicals - benzene and lead – cited in the said FDA advisory are among the “ten chemicals of major public health concern” as per the World Health Organization (WHO).

“The FDA’s public health warning on plastic balloon blowing kits is very important but not enough to protect young children from toxic chemical exposure and other preventable hazards,” observed Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Products intended for children’s use such as toys should be totally safe.  Flammable chemicals such as acetone and benzene, and hazardous substances that can cause cancer like benzene or damage the brain like lead should not be part of any child’s toy and should be banned and withdrawn from the market,” he emphasized.

Test buys conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition on May 10 in Manila and  Quezon Cities indicate plastic balloon blowing kits - comprised of  solvent mixture in metal tube with accompanying straw - are sold for as low as P1 to P5 per set at public markets and sari-sari stores outside public schools.  

All the 25 purchased items are not registered with the FDA, provide no list of chemical ingredients, and lack the mandatory labeling requirements as per Republic Act 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013.

In recommending the prohibition on benzene-containing plastic balloon blowing kits, the EcoWaste Coalition cited the ban in Canada that has been in effect since 1973 because “the safety concern is that blowing the balloons exposes a child to inhaling the vapors of any solvents present.” 

According to Health Canada, “children can be fascinated with these products, and if they blow balloons for extended periods they may experience early symptoms of central nervous system depression or dysfunction, including euphoria, hallucinations, dizziness, and difficulties with coordination of voluntary movements. Prolonged exposure can lead to more serious symptoms including muscular twitching, unconsciousness, and coma.” 

WHO warned “human exposure to benzene has been associated with a range of acute and long-term adverse health effects and diseases, including cancer and aplastic anaemia.” 

While, “children are particularly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of lead, and even relative low levels of exposure can cause serious and in some cases irreversible neurological damage,” the WHO said.



https://ww2.fda.gov.ph/index.p hp/advisories-2/cosmetic-2/505 744-fda-advisory-no-2018-152
http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/ recall-alert-rappel-avis/hc-sc /2013/26843r-eng.php
http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/ recall-alert-rappel-avis/hc-sc /2016/57240r-eng.php
http://www.who.int/ipcs/assess ment/public_health/benzene/en/
http://www.who.int/ipcs/assess ment/public_health/lead/en/

09 May 2018

Miss Earth Philippines 2018 Delegates Make a Pitch for Waste-Less Polls

ALSO THINK ABOUT MOTHER EARTH: Candidates for Miss Earth Philippines 2018 beauty pageant, together with advocates from the EcoWaste Coalition, push for garbage prevention and reduction as the campaign fever for the looming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls spreads. 

Delegates to the upcoming Miss Earth Philippines 2018 beauty pageant today trooped to the COMELEC Headquarters to campaign for waste prevention and reduction as the synchronized Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections near.

Co-organized by the Miss Earth Foundation and the EcoWaste Coalition, the visit by the pageant hopefuls drew attention to the need to put environmental protection at the heart of the ongoing grassroots poll campaign.  
In particular, the aspiring “Dyosa ng Inang Kalikasan” sought the cooperation of the candidates and their supporters in making the May 14 village and youth council polls less wasteful, which is in sync with the pageant's newly-launched #MEPgoesplasticfree initiative where candidates refuse single-use plastics and straws.

Among those who came for the event were Marla Alforque (from Cebu City),  Joana Cristine Dalangin (Lipa City), Liz Mabao (Mandaluyong City), Teressa Anne Mariano (Queensland, Australia), Annalea Rabe (Sta. Cruz, Marinduque),  Noelle Uy Tuazon (Tangalan, Aklan), and Halimatu Yushawu (Titay, Zamboanga del Sibugay).

“With over one million candidates vying for elective Barangay and SK posts, there is a real risk of increased waste generation as campaign materials are mass produced, disseminated and discarded,” said Catherine Untalan-Vital of the Miss Earth Foundation.

“We appeal to all contenders to be conscious of the environmental outcome of their campaigning activities so as not to add to the garbage problems besetting our communities,” she said.  

“Regardless of the poll results, we also request them to conduct ecological post-campaign cleanup as soon as the ballots are counted,” she added.    

For his part, Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition, cautioned the public against the improper disposal of campaign materials.

“Throwing discarded campaign materials in street dumps or in distant landfills or, worst, incinerating them, will not really make waste disappear,” he said.

“Instead of the usual ‘hakot, tambak, sunog” approach, we call upon the general public, especially all would-be village and SK leaders, to embrace the basic principles and practices of ecological solid waste management,” he suggested.

“This would mean, among other things, exerting extra effort to lessen the volume of discards for disposal by segregating them at source and safely recycling them as much as possible,” he pointed.

COMELEC Commissioner Luie Tito F. Guia commended the Miss Earth Foundation and the EcoWaste Coalition for their environmental advocacy in relation to the May 14 elections.

“I commend your action and wholeheartedly join you in appealing to the Barangay and SK poll candidates and the general public to be environmentally caring and responsible.  Any decrease in the volume and toxicity of campaign trash will help in reducing the negative impact of the electoral exercise on the environment,” he said.    


Barangay and SK Candidates Urged to Stay Away from Guns, Goons, Gold… and Garbage (Group Urges Candidates to Reject Bad "Gs" of Politics)

As the campaign fever heats up, the EcoWaste Coalition today advised aspiring Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan leaders to shun the four, not three, “Gs” of Philippine politics. 

“Guns, goons, gold, as well as garbage, are the bad ‘Gs’ of the country’s political life, especially in time of elections,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coodinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We therefore call upon the good candidates not to resort to these bad ‘Gs’ to get their chosen posts in the barangay or youth councils,” she said.

“Please spurn violence, calm your supporters and do not use money to buy allegiance and votes to achieve your political ambitions,” she said.

“Also, please do not dirty the walls, streets and the trees with your campaign materials. Keep your campaigning activities garbage-free,” she added.

With few days remaining before the last day of the campaign period on May 12, the EcoWaste Coalition again sought the cooperation of all candidates and their backers in keeping local communities safe from campaign trash and pollution.
“Every campaign material used to woo voters – from paper to plastic – has to go somewhere after the election frenzy is over.  Some of these materials may be reused, repurposed and recycled, and, regrettably, most may end up being buried or burned and wasted forever,” Lucero said.

"Hope candidates will stick to the rules and be mindful of the environmental consequences of their campaigning efforts,” she said.

The EcoWaste Coalition likewise appealed to the candidates to voluntarily remove their campaign materials immediately after the polls on May 14. 

“We urge candidates who truly care for their constituents and their shared environment to conduct a post-election clean-up on May 15.  Win or lose, please get out of the streets and remove your campaign posters,” Lucero pleaded.

“Instead of hanging boring ‘thank you’ tarpaulins, please express your gratitude to the electorate by leading neighborhood clean-up activities.  Please do retrieve whatever can be reused, repurposed or recycled,” she added.

The EcoWaste Coalition further reminded candidates and their supporters not to dump or burn the removed campaign materials as this is against Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, that barangay and SK leaders are supposed to enforce.


03 May 2018

QC Stores Sell Banned Cosmetics Contaminated with Mercury

A non-governmental watch group on toxic chemicals, products and wastes today revealed the illegal sale of mercury-tainted skin whitening cosmetics in stores selling beauty and herbal products in Cubao, Quezon City.

The EcoWaste Coalition made the revelation following its market investigation on May 1 to check if skin lightening cosmetics banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to their mercury content and lack of product notification are sold in QC.

The toxics watch group since 2011 has been raising awareness about skin whitening cosmetics containing mercury and the risks associated with mercury exposure.

“Our latest test buys indicate that mercury-laden skin whitening products are illegally sold in broad daylight not only in Baclaran and Divisoria, but also in Cubao,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The banned products are sold for P100 to P300 each by dealers of cosmetics and herbal food supplements located in a big supermarket and a dry and wet market inside the Araneta Center,” he said.

To protect public health, especially the health of women consumers of skin whitening products,  the EcoWaste Coalition urged the Quezon City Health Department to undertake urgent law enforcement action together with the Quezon City Police Department and the FDA.

“We also urge commercial establishments who rent out space for vendors of beauty and herbal products to warn their tenants against selling items banned by the FDA such as cosmetics laden with heavy metals like mercury and other prohibited or restricted substances,” Dizon said.

Mercury in the range of 521 to 21,100 parts per million (ppm) was detected in the following products using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) chemical analyzer:

1.  Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene with SPF 30 Avocado & Aloe Vera, 21,100 ppm
2.  Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream Oil Free, 20,900 ppm 
3.  S’Zitang 10-Day Eliminating Freckle Day & Night Set, 2,258 ppm
4.  Erna Whitening Cream, 816 ppm
5.  JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream, 521 ppm

FDA banned the two Goree products in 2017, S’Zitang in 2015, Erna in 2013, and JJJ in 2012 for containing mercury beyond the allowable limit of one part per million (ppm) as per as the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.

Citing information from the World Health Organization (WHO), the EcoWaste Coalition said that individuals who apply mercury-laced skin lightening products onto their face may experience skin discoloration, rashes and scarring and lower skin resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.  

Repeated applications, according to WHO, can cause damage to the brain, the nervous system and the kidneys.

Symptoms of mercury poisoning may include change in the ability to taste, difficulty to concentrate, excessive shyness, weakened hearing and vision, insomnia, irritability, memory problems, numbness and tingling in hands, feet or around mouth, and tremors.