30 June 2018

EcoWaste Coalition Deplores Overstaying Canadian Garbage (Group Laments Non-Enforcement of Court Order Issued on June 30, 2016 to Return Illegal Trash Shipments to Canada)

A waste and pollution watch group bewailed the non-enforcement of a court order directing the importers to return tons of illegal Canadian garbage shipments back to their origin.

“Two years have passed by since the ‘return to sender’ order from the court and the reeking residual wastes from Canada are still in our country posing health and environmental hazards.  We remain clueless as to when the defendants will comply with the court order,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.  

The group also pressed the Canadian government to honor their promise to solve this long-drawn-out dumping scandal.

It will be recalled that during the sidelines of the 31st ASEAN Summit last year, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau assured President Rodrigo Duterte of his government’s commitment to resolve the garbage issue, stating “it is now theoretically possible to take (their rubbish) back.” 

“We have not forgotten what he said so we urge Prime Minister Trudeau to keep his promise and put right the environment injustice committed against our nation,” Lucero said.

Judge Tita Bughao Alisuag of the Manila Regional Trial Court (Branch 1) on June 30, 2016 ordered the return of the imported garbage to Canada in accordance with RA 6969, or the Toxic Substances, Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act.

The court order drew cheers among the intervenors to Criminal Case No. 14-311191 versus importer Adelfa Eduardo et al for violation of R.A. 6969.

The intervenors, which include Ang Nars Party-List, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Public Services Labor Independent Confederation, Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa and three other individuals, interceded to stop the wastes from being disposed of in local facilities.

The court “sides with the intervenors that the disposal and destruction of the wastes will violate equally important environmental laws such as RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and RA 9275 or the Clean Water Act," the ruling said.

In instructing the importers to re-export the wastes for disposal in Canada, the court emphasized that “our country should not be made a trash bin by other countries” and that the incident “should not be made a precedent for other countries to follow.”

In 2013-2014, a total of 103 shipping containers of mostly residual garbage from Canada disguised as scrap plastics for recycling entered the Philippines.  

Twenty-six of these garbage-filled containers were unlawfully disposed of in 2015 at a private landfill facility in Tarlac angering local officials and residents.


29 June 2018

Resolution Expressing Solidarity with Samsung Workers’ Struggle for Justice

Whereas, there  is a growing international concern over the working conditions of workers in the electronics industry, particularly among workers in the factories of Samsung  Electronics in South Korea and Vietnam;

Whereas, the reported exposure of Samsung workers in South Korea to toxic chemical substances used in the manufacture of mobile phones, TVs and other electronic products has been linked to serious illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, brain tumor, leukemia, and other life-threatening diseases;

Whereas, the Supporters of Health and Rights of People in the Semi-Conductor Industry (SHARPs) has documented various health problems in over 300 employees of Samsung in South Korea of which 144 have already died;

Whereas, the EcoWaste Coalition is deeply concerned about the plight of workers in Samsung, especially those who have reportedly contracted occupational diseases and perished due to their exposure to undisclosed toxic chemicals used in the production processes;

Be it resolved that the EcoWaste Coalition expresses its solidarity with the affected Samsung workers and their families and with SHARPs in their continuing quest for justice.

That the EcoWaste Coalition supports the call for the protection of workers’ rights, health and well-being in Samsung facilities in South Korea, Vietnam and elsewhere.

That the EcoWaste Coalition demands corporate accountability and urges the electronics industry to provide their employees with a safe working environment, particularly by:

--making a full disclosure of the chemicals used in product manufacturing and their associated health hazards in line with the workers’ right to know

--substituting toxic substances and materials with safe ones that will not cause harm to health and the environment

--providing workers with medical care, occupational health and safety trainings, protective gear, adequate ventilation, etc. 

Adopted on 27 June 2018 during the General Assembly of the EcoWaste Coalition held in Quezon City, Philippines

23 June 2018

UNIDO Director General visits Non Com POPs Treatment Facility

UNIDO Director General, Li Yong, appreciates the contribution of the civil society, through the EcoWaste Coalition, to the UNIDO project for the safe and non-burn treatment of the country's stockpiles of the persistent organic pollutants Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) during his short visit to the country's Non-Combustion POPs Treatment Facility in Mariveles, Bataan. With him are the UNIDO delegation, the Philippine delegation and representatives from the EcoWaste Coalition. 

22 June 2018

LGUs Heed DILG Directive on Lead Safe Paints

A waste and pollution watch group cited two local government units (LGUs) for taking concrete action to safeguard children and other vulnerable groups from being exposed to lead, a highly hazardous chemical, in paint and dust.

The EcoWaste Coalition lauded the City Councils of Davao City and Quezon City for passing on June 5 and June 13, respectively, ordinances requiring the mandatory procurement and use of lead safe paints in publicly-funded construction, maintenance and renovation projects and activities in their geographical jurisdiction.

Councilors Pilar Braga and Jimmy Dureza co-introduced the Davao City ordinance, while Councilor Elizabeth Delarmente introduced the Quezon City ordinance.

The approval of the ordinances came on the heels of a Memorandum Circular 2018-26 issued by Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año last February 28 on the “Mandatory Use of Lead-Safe Paints by LGUs.”

“We laud the local authorities of Davao and Quezon Cities for heeding DILG’s directive to adopt policies that will institutionalize the procurement and use of lead safe paints, especially for painting jobs paid out of public funds,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

The group had earlier recommended the mandatory procurement of lead safe paints for government purchasing in support of the ongoing phase-out of lead-added paints in the country.

“The adopted ordinances conform to the global goal of phasing out lead-added paints and reducing the risks posed by such paints to public health and the environment,” Dizon noted. 

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, the ordinances adopted by the Davao City and Quezon City Councils have bolstered the enforcement of the Chemical Control Order (CCO) for Lead and Lead Compounds issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The CCO, issued in 2013, phases out paints containing lead above 90 parts per million (ppm), the strictest regulatory standard for lead in paint worldwide. 

The EcoWaste Coalition expressed its hope that other LGUs will adopt similar measures to protect their workers and constituents against lead exposure.   

As a major paint consumer, the LGUs have a responsibility to ensure that only lead safe paints are bought and used to decorate government-financed buildings, facilities, and amenities, the group emphasized.  





20 June 2018

Group Cheers BOC for Intercepting Mercury-Laden Beauty Products

The achievement of customs authorities in blocking the entry of mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics has not gone unnoticed.

In a statement issued in reaction to yesterday’s news, the non-profit anti-toxics watch group EcoWaste Coalition lauded the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for seizing illegal shipments from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates that include 6,500 pieces of banned Goree Beauty Cream and Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream laden with mercury.

“Our customs inspectors deserve a pat on the back for intercepting these mercury-tainted Goree products that are banned in the Philippines, as well as in Brunei and Singapore, due to their mercury content,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The seizure of these dangerous goods before they are distributed in retail outlets across the country strikes a major blow against unscrupulous merchants that should prompt them to cease their unlawful business,” he pointed out.

Product test buys conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition this year confirm the illicit sale of the said Goree products in Metro Manila, Davao City, and Puerto Princesa City despite being banned by the Food and Drug Administration in October 2017.

“We hope customs authorities will dig dipper into this smuggling case and prosecute the culprits to finally put an end to this illegal trade that adversely impacts on human health and the environment,” he further said.  

“It is important to pinpoint the source of these illegal shipments in UAE with the help of the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the local authorities,” he emphasized.

“As Balikbayan boxes were used to ship the banned items to Manila, we find it necessary for the government to reach out to courier service providers and overseas Filipinos to inform them about the prohibition on Goree and other banned products and the fines and penalties awaiting violators,” he added.

The EcoWaste Coalition also urged the BOC to keep the confiscated products out of landfills and incinerators to prevent mercury releases to the environment.

The group reiterated the information from the US Environmental Protection Agency warning that: “Once landfilled, mercury from the products may end up in groundwater, and potentially in sources of drinking water.  Once incinerated, mercury may end up in the air.” 

Mercury, a toxic metal prohibited in cosmetic formulations, can cause skin blotching, discoloration, and rashes, decrease dermal resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, and result in damage to the brain and the nervous, digestive and renal systems, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury, which the Philippines has yet to ratify, seeks to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds, including those from mercury-added products such as skin lightening creams and soaps.






18 June 2018

EcoWaste Coalition Cautions Parents vs. Baby Wipes with Banned Preservatives

Some wet wipes that are used to clean the face, hands and bottom of babies may contain banned preservatives that can trigger allergic reactions.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit environmental and health organization, sounded the alarm versus methylchloroisothiazoli none and methylisothiazolinone (MCI/MIT), two chemical preservatives that are banned in leave-on cosmetic products such as wet wipes.

“Our test buys show that imported baby wipes sold for as low as P20 per pack contain these chemical preservatives that are associated with allergic reactions such as skin rashes,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Last Sunday, June 17, the group managed to buy unregistered baby wipes listing MCI/MIT as ingredients from retailers at 168, 999, and Lucky Chinatown Shopping Malls in Manila.

One of the products bought ---  “Dong Bang Baby Tender Baby Wipes Fresh Scented” --- was among those included in the public health warning issued by the Food and Drug Administration last March 22 against unverified and potentially dangerous cosmetic products.

“Skin contact with MCI/MIT, which are known sensitizing agents, can elicit allergic contact dermatitis in humans, especially among babies who have very delicate skin,” he said.

While MCI/MIT are allowed in rinse-off cosmetic products, cosmetic regulations governing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the  European Union (EU) ban these preservatives in leave-on products including wet wipes, Dizon pointed out.

According to the EU, “for leave-on cosmetic products (including ‘wet wipes’), no safe concentrations of MIT for induction of contact allergy or elicitation have been adequately demonstrated.”

To prevent children’s exposure to known skin sensitizers, the EcoWaste Coalition urged parents to consider these tips:

1.  Use lukewarm water, mild soap and cotton balls for cleaning baby’s bottom and only use wet wipes when water is not available.  

2.  Read the product label carefully and shun those that include MCI/MIT as ingredients.

3.  Reject products that do not list their ingredients and do not have an expiry date.

4.  Look for alcohol-free and unscented wet wipes.

5.  To cut the chances of an allergy, refrain from using wet wipes for cleaning baby’s hands, mouth and other body parts.

6.  After using wet wipes, rinse with water to get rid of chemical residues and reduce the risk of skin allergies.

The EcoWaste Coalition further reminded the public not to flush used wet wipes or throw them on streets or canals as these may block the drainage and sewer systems, clog anti-flood pumping stations, ruin wastewater pumps, and aggravate the plastic pollution of water bodies and the oceans.



https://ww2.fda.gov.ph/attachm ents/article/453569/FDA%20Circ ular%20No.2017-006-1.pdf
https://ww2.fda.gov.ph/index.p hp/advisories-2/cosmetic-2/488 137-fda-advisory-no-2018-034
https://ww2.fda.gov.ph/index.p hp/advisories-2/cosmetic-2/497 771-fda-advisory-no-2018-099
https://eur-lex.europa.eu/lega l-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CEL EX:32016R1198&from=EN

15 June 2018

Group Advocates for Proper Waste Management to Beat the Dengue Menace

The EcoWaste Coalition has called on the local authorities and the general public to embrace ecological solid waste management (ESWM) as a practical strategy to address the dengue scourge. 

The waste and pollution watch group aired its plea for ESWM as the ASEAN Dengue Day is observed today, June 15, to increase public awareness on dengue, mobilize resources for its prevention and control, and demonstrate the region’s commitment to tackling the disease. 

“Practicing ESWM in every household and barangay will help a lot in depriving Aedes aegypti mosquitoes with breeding spots,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Dengue virus is transmitted by day-biting female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that breed in clean standing water, especially in places where water collects and with poor drainage and sanitation. 

"Carelessly thrown plastic bags and bottles, polystyrene packaging, sachets, snack packs, empty bottles and cans, and other discards can gather and hold water where mosquitoes can lay their eggs.  It’s very important to keep our discards properly sorted and managed," Alejandre pointed out. 

“Also, recyclables such as those stored in school, market and community materials recovery facilities should be kept dry and clean so as not to attract mosquitoes, as well as cockroaches and rats,” he added.

Water storage containers, drums, pails, flower pots, plates under potted plants, cemetery vases, tin cans, tires, rain gutters, ornamental fountains, and other artificial or natural water containers that are within or near to places where people reside are natural breeding habitats for Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the group said.

To keep the household and community environment free of dengue vectors, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to observe the following practical tips: 

-  Check your backyard regularly for water-filled containers.

-  Remove trash that can collect and hold water.

-  Recycle or dispose of water-holding containers that are not needed.

-  Cover water buckets, drums, and tanks with lids.

-  Empty and clean water containers thoroughly once a week.

-  Change water in flower vases weekly.

-  Remove water from plates under potted plants weekly.

-  Clear rain gutters of leaves and other debris.

-  Puncture or cut old rubber tires used as roof support.

To scare and get rid of mosquitoes at home,  the EcoWaste Coalition also encouraged families to grow basil, catnip, citronella grass, garlic, lavender, lemongrass, marigolds, peppermint, rosemary, and other natural mosquito repellents. 

On the other hand, the group cautioned the public from using unregistered insecticides that have flooded the market as these may do more harm than good.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had repeatedly warned  household/urban pesticide products (HUPPs) such as aerosol insecticides, coils,  and anti-mosquito bracelets and pendants, lotions and sprays, and patches that have not been evaluated by the FDA may pose potential hazards to health and the environment. 

“FDA cannot guarantee their quality, efficacy, and safety.  Such products are harmful, toxic and may pose an imminent danger to human and animal health,” the FDA stressed in advisories warning the public against the use of unregistered HUPPs. 



http://asean.org/?static_post= 2017-asean-dengue-day-theme-un ited-fight-dengue
https://www.cdc.gov/dengue/res ources/30Jan2012/aegyptifactsh eet.pdf
https://ww2.fda.gov.ph/index.p hp/advisories-2/cosmetic-2/505 748-fda-advisory-no-2018-167- public-health-warning-against- the-use-of-unregistered- household-urban-pesticide- product-batch-6

14 June 2018

Groups Applaud Quezon City Council for Passing Ordinance Requiring the Use of Lead Safe Paints

Children’s health and environmental protection organizations lauded the Quezon City Council for adopting an ordinance that will protect kids, women, and workers from being exposed to lead, a highly hazardous chemical.

In a joint statement, Arugaan (a support group for women with young infants and children) and the EcoWaste Coalition (a waste and pollution watch group) commended the 20th City Council for approving on third and final reading yesterday, June 13, an ordinance “requiring the use of lead safe paint in construction, maintenance and renovation projects and activities” of Quezon Cty.

Sponsored by District I Councilor Elizabeth Delarmente, the ordinance seeks to foster the city’s policy “to promote the public’s health, safety and welfare, as well as promote a toxic-free environment, by ensuring the mandatory procurement and use of duly certified lead safe paints.” 

As defined in the ordinance, “lead safe paint is a paint that does not contain added lead as verified and confirmed through a third party certification.”  On the other hand, “lead paint is a paint or other similar surface coating materials containing lead above the regulatory total maximum lead limit of 90 parts per million (ppm).

“Kudos to Councilor Delarmente and the City Council for enacting an ordinance that will ensure only independently verified lead safe paints are procured and used for painting projects and activities funded by taxpayers’ money.  This is a very good news for children’s, women’s and workers’ health,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“This ordinance will protect babies in the womb and young children from being poisoned by lead through the ingestion and inhalation of lead-laden paint chip and dust, which can irreparably damage the brain and the central nervous system and cause reduced intelligence and behavioral problems,” said Ines Fernandez, Chairperson, Arugaan.

Quezon City is the second local government unit (LGU) after Davao City, that has adopted a lead safe paint ordinance in line with DILG Memorandum Circular 2018-26 enjoining LGUs to“support the phase-out of lead-containing paints and eventually reduce the hazards and risks posed by such paints to human health," according to the EcoWaste Coalition.

The ordinance prohibits the following acts to ensure that leaded paints are not bought and used for the city’s projects and activities: 

--- procuring paints containing lead above 90 ppm;
--- purchasing paints that lack independent proof of compliance with the regulatory standard;
--- receiving and applying donated paints that are not compliant with the lead paint regulation; and
--- using lead-containing paints above 90 ppm in decorating public facilities and amenities, including, but not limited to, schools, day care centers, children’s parks and playgrounds, health centers, sports complexes and covered multi-purpose courts.

The ordinance also requires employees, contractors, and service providers to ”take protective measures  when surfaces previously coated with lead paint are disturbed during repair, remodeling or repainting activities in order to prevent and control the formation and dispersion of lead-containing paint chips and dust and reduce the risk of exposure to lead.” 

Violators will be fined P2,000 for the first offense and  P3,000 for the second offense.  For the third offense, violators will be meted with a fine of P5,000, imprisonment of 30 days or cancellation of business license, or both at the discretion of the court.

In addition, all those convicted by the court will be required to render 30 days of community service to be determined by concerned local government authorities. 

The Quezon City Engineering Department has been assigned to take the lead in the strict implementation of the ordinance in coordination with the Parks Development and Administration Department, Environmental Protection and Waste Management Department, Health Department, Division of City Schools, and relevant national government agencies.




13 June 2018

EcoWaste Coalition Exposes Sale of Banned Mercury-Laden S'Zitang Skin Lightening Product (Group Pushes for Seizure of Mercury-Laden Skin Whitening Cosmetics to Protect Public Health and the Environment)

Despite government’s warning against its illegal sale, a skin lightening product laced with toxic mercury has yet to be removed from the market.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a watch group tracking toxic chemicals, products and wastes, revealed that S’Zitang 10 Days Eliminating Freckle Day & Night Set, which health authorities banned over two weeks ago, are still sold in seven cities in Metro Manila.

The Food and Drug Administration last May 29 issued FDA Advisory No. 2018-183 warning the public against the distribution, sale and use of S’Zitang after finding it to be laden with mercury above the trace amount limit of one part per million (ppm) as per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.

Test buys conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition on June 12 and 13 uncover the illegal sale  of S’Zitang for P75 to P150 each by Chinese drug stores, herbal supplement stores and beauty product stores in Caloocan, Makati, Manila, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig and Quezon Cities. 

The FDA had threatened concerned establishments not to distribute the said product or “regulatory actions and sanctions shall be strictly pursued.”

“Despite stern warning from the FDA, unscrupulous retailers continue to sell S’Zitang, which is damaging to human health as well as the environment because of its mercury content,” stated Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

All the 10 samples of S’Zitang procured by the group had average mercury content of 2,467 ppm for the day cream and 1,344 ppm for the night cream as detected by a portable X-Ray Fluorescence spectrometer.

Mercury absorbed through the skin from prolonged exposure can harm the kidneys, the brain and the central nervous system, and may also result in skin discoloration, rashes, scarring and other side effects, the group pointed out.

“To bring this unlawful trade to a halt, we urge the FDA to make good on their threat, seize the banned product, and prosecute the violators to the full extent of the law,” Dizon pointed out.

The group had earlier lauded government operatives for confiscating last Friday banned mercury-tainted Goree skin whitening products worth P96,000 from retailers at 999 Shopping Mall in Manila.

“Law enforcement efforts by the combined elements of the FDA Regulatory Enforcement Unit, Philippine National Police and Bureau of Customs could break the supply chain of S’Zitang, Goree and other dangerous cosmetics laden with mercury,” Dizon added.    

The seized products, the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized, should be considered as hazardous waste, not mixed with ordinary trash, and disposed of in a safe manner to prevent mercury from entering and polluting the environment, including the ocean ecosystems.

According to the UN Environment, “when products containing mercury are discarded into the general waste stream, they often end up in the environment where they may be burned... (releasing) the mercury they contain into the air, water, and soil.”


11 June 2018

Watch "Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho" Episode on Mercury-Laden Goree Skin Whitening Cream

Watch "White Lies", an in-depth investigation by "Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho" (KMJS) about a skin whitening product called "Goree" that has been found by the Food and Drug Administration, the EcoWaste Coalition and the KMJS itself as being laden with high concentrations of toxic mercury.

Link to the video:

EcoWaste Coalition Says Flashfloods in MM Another Wake-Up Call, Reiterates Need for Enforcing R.A. 9003

The flashfloods that hit many parts of Metro Manila due to the heavy rains dumped by the southwest monsoon as enhanced by severe tropical storm “Domeng” should serve as another wake-up call for households and other waste generators.

“Irresponsible trash disposal has no doubt contributed to the flashfloods that affected many commuters, residents and businesses.  As the familiar saying goes: “basurang tinapon mo, babalik sa iyo,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“It is no secret that recklessly thrown garbage --- from tiny cigarette filters to the omnipresent plastic bags ----  can end up in storm drains and esteros blocking the flow of water and triggering flashfloods that can endanger people’s lives,” he said.

“Reckless trash disposal also results in the dumping of plastics and other pollutants from land into the Pasig River and its tributaries and into Manila Bay aggravating the pollution of our water bodies and the oceans with waste and chemical contaminants,” he said.  

To address these twin solid waste and chemical woes harming the oceans, the EcoWaste Coalition renewed its call on the national and local governments to intensify the enforcement of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

R.A. 9003, among other things, prohibits the dumping of waste matters in streets, canals, esteros and other public places and punishes such act with a fine of P300 to P1,000, or one to 15-day community service, or both.

“The long-delayed issuance of the list of non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging materials, which R.A. 9003 requires the National Solid Waste Management Commission to do, will surely help in reducing the dumping of waste and chemical pollutants to the marine environment,” Alejandre said.

“We hope Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu as chair of the commission will make this a top priority this year in line with the global goal of beating plastic pollution as well as preventing ocean pollution of all kinds, especially from land-based sources,” he said.  

The group further expressed its hope that the new set of community and youth officials who will assume their office on June 30 will take the lead in enforcing R.A. 9003 at the barangay level.

 “We hope newly-elected Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials will take R.A. 9003 to heart and make it a centerpiece in building zero waste, toxics-free and disaster resilient communities,” Alejandre said.

Newly-constituted barangay councils should conduct a critical review of current ecological solid waste management programs, beef up their solid waste management committee if needed, set progressive goals and targets, and come up with innovative strategies, including maximizing the vital role of the informal waste sector, the EcoWaste Coalition suggested.

R.A. 9003 specifically requires the country’s over 42,000 barangays to develop ecological solid waste management programs, promote waste separation at source, enforce a segregated collection for biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste, and establish Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) in every barangay or cluster of barangays.




10 June 2018

Environmental advocates, DENR, UNIDO spearhead run for toxic-free Philippines

In time for the Philippine Environment Month, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), joined by environmental advocates from EcoWaste Coalition, led participants in today’s advocacy run, dubbed as PCB-free EnviRUNment: Onward to a Toxic-Free Philippines, in Intramuros, Manila.

Famed environmental activist Fr. Robert Reyes, known as the Running Priest, also joined the run to signify his support to efforts for the safe management of the country’s stockpiles of PCBs, in compliance to our obligation to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

Flashing a huge banner and placards bearing messages “Onward to a PCB-Free Philippines”, “Support Safe PCB Management”, and “Go PCB-Free”, the group ran along Sta Lucia St. from Puerta Real Gardens toward Fort Santiago where they made a turn back to Puerta Real via Gen. Luna St. to promote the country’s efforts to safely manage PCBs.

PCBs refers to polychlorinated biphenyls, which are oils widely used as dielectric fluids in old transformers and capacitors. The highly toxic chemicals were banned from use before the 1980s due to their toxicity and characteristics as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), though many of which remain in use today.

According to Dr. Carmela Centeno, UNIDO Headquarters in Vienna, Austria, “DENR has been a very strong partner of UNIDO in the implementation of the project, especially in terms of the technical preparations towards the phase out of PCBs in the Philippines.” 

“This fun run is just one of the awareness activities that we are organizing together with various government agencies, civil society organizations, and private sector partners under the Safe PCB and E-Waste Management Project,” Centeno added. 

Furthermore, UNIDO Philippines Country Representative Ms. Tonilyn Lim stated that the environmentally-sound management of chemicals and wastes, such as PCBs and electronic wastes, will continue to be a significant part of UNIDO’s work in the Philippines. 

“This fun run shows the commitment of partners and highlights the need for local action, with the vigilance of the citizenry in eliminating toxins from our cities and our homes,” Lim said.

For her part, Sonia Mendoza, Chairman of Mother Earth Foundation and Treasurer of EcoWaste Coalition, maintained that “double efforts should be exerted by the government through the DENR-EMB in ensuring that practically all the country’s PCB stockpiles are safely stored, handled, and destroyed without resorting to combustion whether in or out of the country.” 

The project aims to safely eliminate about 600 tons of PCBs through a non-combustion treatment facility owned by DENR-EMB in Mariveles, Bataan.

Among the partners of the Safe PCB and E-Waste Management Project are the National Electrification Administration, Natural Resources Development Corporation, Development Bank of the Philippines, Integrated Recycling Industries, and Cebu Common Treatment Facility Incorporated. 

The advocacy run was similarly supported by the Intramuros Administration, Philippine Red Cross – Manila Chapter, and KAISA-Nagkakaisang Iskolar para sa Pamantasan at Sambayanan.


07 June 2018

Consumer Alert: Banned Mercury-Laden Skin Whitening Cosmetics On Sale in Palawan

Puerto Princesa City/Quezon City.  Skin whitening cosmetics containing dangerous levels of mercury, a potent neurotoxin, have found their way to Palawan and are sold over the counter in blatant violation of the law.

The Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition made this revelation after conducting test buys in Puerto Princesa City on June 4 that netted four  brands of mercury-laced skin lightening products banned under Republic Act 9711 and Republic Act 7394.

RA 9711, or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Act, and RA 7394, the Consumer Act of the Philippines, prohibit the manufacture, importation, selling or offering for sale of cosmetics without approval from the FDA or for containing harmful or toxic substances.

Among these proscribed products was Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene with SPF 30 Avocado & Aloe Vera from Pakistan that health authorities in the Philippines, Brunei and Singapore had banned for containing mercury above the trace amount limit of 1 part per million (ppm)  under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.

The toxics-watch group bought the skin whitening cosmetics, costing P100 to P300 per product, from shops located at Chinatown Center.

Using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, a device that can identify and quantify the concentrations of heavy metals in consumer products and other materials, the group detected high concentrations of mercury in the following products:  Goree Beauty Cream, 19,600 ppm; Goree Day & Night Beauty Cream, 18,500 ppm; and Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream, 6,674  ppm.  The fourth product, Bihuayn  Whitening Cream, had no detectable mercury content. 

FDA banned Bihuayn banned in 2013, and Collagen Plus and the two variants of Goree in 2017.

“Consumers should be extra careful when buying cosmetics that promise brighter or fairer skin complexion as some of them may contain poisonous ingredients like mercury.  Repeated application of such cosmetics may result in chronic exposure to mercury and cause damage to the brain and the central nervous system, the kidneys and the skin itself,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Atty. Gerthie Mayo-Anda, Executive Director of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC), deplored the sale of mercury-laced cosmetics in Palawan as “a violation of the basic consumer right to be protected against the marketing of goods that are hazardous to health and life.” 

“We urge the authorities to get to the bottom of this toxic exposé by the EcoWaste Coalition and hold those responsible for such unlawful trade to protect the Palaweños and our environment from the negative effects of mercury pollution,” she said.

Visiting expert Lee Bell, Mercury Policy Adviser of IPEN ( a global civil society network promoting safe chemicals policies and practices) said: "Ecowaste Coalition have highlighted the serious issue of mercury contamination of cosmetics and it is important for authorities to act immediately to remove them from sale."

"Mercury is a potent neurotoxin and we must take all possible action to prevent human exposure. Special care must be taken by women of childbearing age to avoid these contaminated cosmetics as the mother and developing fetus can suffer significant damage," he pointed out.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "the main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage. (It may) also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration, and scarring as well as a reduction in the skin's resistance to bacterial and fungal infections."

"Public awareness needs to be raised regarding the types of products and the specific products that contain mercury and the risks associated with mercury exposure,” the WHO said.


https://ww2.fda.gov.ph/index. php/advisories-2/cosmetic-2/ 472052-fda-advisory-no-2017- 289
https://ww2.fda.gov.ph/index. php/advisories-2/cosmetic-2/ 475039-fda-advisory-no-2017- 314 (no. 38)
http://www.who.int/ipcs/ assessment/public_health/ mercury_flyer.pdf
http://www.hsa.gov.sg/content/ dam/HSA/News_and_Events/Press_ Releases/2018/PR%2018% 20cosmetic%20pdts%20PQS% 20final.pdf
http://www.hsa.gov.sg/content/ hsa/en/News_Events/Press_ Releases/2018/ 18cosmeticproducts.html
https://www.brudirect.com/ news.php?id=43756

06 June 2018

Groups Give Two Thumbs Up to Davao City Ordinance on Lead-Safe Paints

Photo courtesy of Chinkie Peliño-Golle (IDIS)

Joint Press Release of IDIS - EcoWaste Coalition

Davao City/Quezon City.  The Davao City Council received two thumbs up from environmental health groups for enacting an ordinance that will make the purchase and use of lead-containing paints a thing of the past.

The Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) and the EcoWaste Coalition lauded the City Council for its unanimous approval on June 5, World Environment Day, of an ordinance “requiring the use of lead safe paints in construction, maintenance and renovation projects and activities.”

“We commend the City Council, particularly Councilors Pilar Braga and Jimmy Dureza who jointly sponsored the ordinance, for adopting this progressive measure that will prevent and reduce health and environmental hazards associated with the use of lead-containing paints.  This legislation is needed to protect Davaoeños and our shared ecosystems from the damaging effects of lead pollution,” said Chinkie Peliño-Golle, Executive Director of Davao City-based IDIS.

“Kudos to Davao City for being the first local government unit (LGU) in the country to pass a policy requiring the mandatory procurement and use of lead safe paints. This will surely catch the attention of other cities and municipalities and hopefully pave the way for the enactment of similar ordinances to safeguard the society, especially children, women and workers, from harms caused by lead paint and dust,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition.

Lead-containing paint and dust are major sources of lead exposure among children that can damage almost every organ and system of the human body, especially the brain and the central nervous system, the groups said.  

According to the World Health Organization, “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.”

Also, lead discharged into the environment makes its way into the air, land, and water.  Painting activities, particularly the haphazard removal of lead painted surfaces, release lead particulates that can contaminate surface runoff and drinking water supplies.  Lead deposited in soils may be retained for up to 2,000 years and can be absorbed by plants through their leaves and roots, posing risks to the ecosystems and human health. 

The said ordinance is in line with Memorandum Circular 2018-26 issued by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) OIC-Secretary Eduardo M. Año, which directs the country’s LGUs to “support the phase-out of lead-containing paints and eventually reduce the hazards and risks posed by such paints to human health."

Among the acts prohibited under the ordinance are:

--- procuring paints containing lead above the regulatory limit of 90 parts per million (ppm);
--- purchasing paints that lack independent proof of compliance with regulatory standard;
--- receiving and applying donated paints that are not compliant with the lead paint regulation; and
--- using lead-containing paints in decorating public facilities and amenities such as schools, day care centers, children’s parks and playgrounds, health centers, sports complexes and multi-purpose covered courts.

The ordinance will also require protective measures to be taken when surfaces previously coated with lead paint are disturbed during repair, remodeling or repainting activities to prevent and control the formation and dispersion of lead-containing paint chips and dust. 



http://www.dilg.gov.ph/issuanc es/mc/Mandatory-use-of-Lead-Sa fe-Paints-by-LGUs/2658
http://www.who.int/mediacentre /factsheets/fs379/en/

Toxics watchdog calls for support to government project

In the country’s bid to be among the first to eliminate the persistent organic pollutant (POPs) called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), toxic watchdog EcoWaste Coalition calls on public to support government efforts to deal with its stockpiles of said toxic chemical.

Ecowaste Coalition pertains to the Safe PCB and E-Waste Management Project of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), an agency under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

Their public call was sounded during their announcement of PCB-Free EnviRUNment: Onward to a Toxic-Free Philippines, an event under the Safe PCB and E-Waste Management Project, that will be held on June 10, 2018 in Intramuros, Manila. The event is the project’s participation to the Philippine Environment Month that is held annually in June.

According to Ecowaste National Coordinator Aileen Lucero, “We are happy that the government, through the EMB-DENR, is actively working towards the safe management and disposal of PCBs in the Philippines. This is very important as it is our commitment when we signed the Stockholm Convention almost two decades ago.”

The Stockholm Convention on POPs was adopted by the Conference of Plenipotentiaries on 22 May 2001 and was ratified by the Philippines on 27 February 20014. The convention initially listed 12 POPs for elimination but the list ballooned to 28 since.

Lucero also explained that PCB refers to polychlorinated biphenyls, found in oils widely used as dielectric fluids in old transformers and capacitors. She added that these highly toxic chemicals were banned from use before the 1980s, though many of which remain in use today.

The EMB-DENR project, according to Lucero, seeks to safely manage and dispose of 600 tons of PCB oil and PCB-contaminated electric transformers through partnerships with electric cooperatives and other agencies.

The government, through the National Resources Development Corporation, maintains and operates a PCB destruction facility in Mariveles, Bataan that applies non-combustion technology to treat PCB wastes.


05 June 2018

Environmental Advocates Buck Trash Incineration, Back Waste Prevention

5 June 2018, Puerto Princesa City.  Incineration is not the solution. 

At a press conference coinciding with the observance of the World Environment Day, environmental advocates from Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines made a strong case against waste-to-energy (WtE) incineration touted as a solution to the garbage crisis.

Organized by the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC), EcoWaste Coalition and IPEN*, the press event shed light on the pitfalls of incinerating discards from an environmental, health and socio-economic standpoint.

“This event is being held against a backdrop of increasing concern over the plan of the Puerto Princesa City government to put up a P2.1 billion WtE gasification plan that will burn the city’s discards estimated at 100 metric tons per day,” said Atty. Gerthie Mayo-Anda, Executive Director, ELAC.  “We hope the city government will hear us out, rethink its plan and opt for holistic waste prevention and reduction strategies to cut the volume of discards requiring final disposal.”
Speaking at the press conference, IPEN Senior Advisor Mariann Lloyd Smith, PhD (Law), from Australia sounded the alarm over highly hazardous pollutants from waste incineration that can threaten human health and the environment.                                  

"WtE incineration emits a wide range of toxic and hazardous air pollutants. These include heavy metals and nanoparticles as well as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as dioxins and furans (PCDD/DF). These extremely toxic substances are subject to the Stockholm Convention on POPs, a U.N. treaty for the worst of the world's hazardous chemicals,” said Lloyd-Smith.

The Stockholm Convention, of which the Philippines is a state party, acknowledges that the incineration of municipal or hazardous waste is a prime source for these unwanted POPs and signatories to the Convention, are obliged to reduce and where possible, eliminate POP chemicals.

“In WtE incineration, once these POP contaminants are formed, they are either released to air or are captured in the ash. The stockpiles of toxic ash generated leave a legacy of hazardous waste that must be managed for generations to come,” Lloyd-Smith explained.

Earlier this year in Australia, the State Government's Department of Health and the Environmental Protection Authority strongly advised that the proposed WtE incineration facility in Western Sydney not to go ahead, citing air quality impacts and risks to human health.

For her part, lawyer Margaretha Quina,  Head of the Environmental Pollution Division, Indonesian Center for Environmental Law, said: “ We've seen cases around the globe litigating the impacts of pollution, especially toxics pollutants, associated with thermal WtE plants. We don't want, and don't need, to have irreversible impacts occurring in our countries to have governments convinced that these are harmful investments.” 

“In Indonesia, a Supreme Court decision in late 2016 struck down our central government's policy to accelerate thermal WtE plants in seven cities. One of the grounds cited by the court was the arbitrariness of the decision to accelerate without sufficient environmental safeguards and the development of a high-risk activity in densely populated areas,” she said. 

“Puerto Princesa  City government should be aware that given the environmental risks exposing the communities, thermal WtE is not a sound choice and is prone to litigation," Quina emphasized.

Ruel Cabile, anti-WtE campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition reported that No Burn Pilipinas, an alliance of over 50 civil society groups, has written to Mayor Lucilo Bayron requesting his office “to heed the Philippine ban on waste incineration, and pursue zero waste as the sustainable approach to managing the city’s discards.”

“We have called on Mayor Bayron to do the right thing and protect public health and the environment from the dangers of waste incineration by embracing zero waste management solution,” he said.

Zero Waste ensures resource recovery and conservation by ending waste disposal in incinerators, landfills and dumps through waste prevention and reduction, composting, recycling and reuse, changes in consumption habits and industrial redesign for the environment, Cabile said.


*IPEN is a global network of over 500 public interest NGOs in 125 countries working for a toxics-free future. 

04 June 2018

EcoWaste Coalition Calls Out E-Commerce Sites as Sale of Mercury-Laden Cosmetics Persists (Group Asks E-Commerce Stores to Police Goods Sold by Third Party Merchants after Buying Online12 Mercury-Laden Skin Whitening Creams)

12 of the 14 skin whitening products bought by the EcoWaste Coalition (top photo) from Lazada and Shopee dealers (last photo) had high concentrations of mercury, including 6 products (middle photo) that were already banned by the FDA due to their mercury content and/or for lacking the required cosmetic product notifications.

A non-profit watch group is calling out e-commerce sites for failing to police cosmetics being offered by third-party dealers that can put consumers at risk to mercury exposure.

The EcoWaste Coalition lamented that online shopping platforms are being used to promote and sell cosmetics containing scheduled poisons such as mercury, which is forbidden in cosmetic formulations.

The group made the remarks after buying skin whitening facial creams for P35 to P500 each from Lazada and Shopee dealers, including items already proscribed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to their mercury content.

“Cosmetics laden with mercury are alarmingly being sold online as the results of our test buys would show.   The wide circulation of these dangerous cosmetics through e-commerce is a menace to public health and the environment as the production, consumption, and disposal of such products can contribute to mercury pollution,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“There is an obvious need to keep the online marketplace safe from mercury and other poisons lurking in some consumer products such as skin lightening creams,” he emphasized.

“Considering the susceptibility of online shoppers to fall victims to deceptive advertising and to adulterated and counterfeit goods, we ask e-commerce sites to police goods being sold by third-party merchants while our policy makers craft necessary regulatory controls,” he added.

Atty. Vic Dimagiba, President of Laban Konsyumer, Inc. agreed, stressing that: “With the growing popularity of online shopping, there ought to be strict rules to safeguard and uphold the rights of consumers, including their right to adequate labeling and full disclosure of the product content, their right to be protected against hazardous goods such as mercury-laced cosmetics and their right to redress.  There should be no exemption from liability by the seller and distributor, and that their registration from the regulator must be disclosed on the website.”

All of the 14 items ordered by the group from dealers based in Baguio City, Davao City, and the National Capital Region are not notified with the FDA and are not permitted to be distributed in the Philippines.

Of these 14 items, 12 were found to exceed the trace amount limit of one part per million (ppm) for mercury in cosmetics under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.  Using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer, the EcoWaste Coalition detected mercury up to 31,100 ppm on the 12 samples.

None of these 12 mercury-laden skin whitening cosmetics listed mercury as an ingredient nor provided any warning about their mercury content.  Some of the items flaunted not to contain harmful chemicals and are safe to use even by pregnant women.

Ailkye Boost Luster Superior Whitening had 31,100 ppm of mercury; Ailkye Perfection Salvation Rosy Whitening A + B Set, 30,200 ppm; Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene with SPF 30 Avocado & Aloe Vera, 20,000 ppm; Aneeza Saffron Whitening Cream, 11,900 ppm; Angel Placenta Whitening Cream, 2,395 ppm; Jiaoli 10 Days Eliminating Freckle Day & Night Set, 2,326 ppm; Pretty Cowry Freckle Cream, 2,169 ppm; Meyyong (Seaweed) Super Whitening, 1,563 ppm; Jiaoli 7 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, 1,337 ppm; Erna Whitening Cream, 1,102 ppm; Chinese Herbal Remove Freckle Whitening Moisturizing Face Skin Care Cream, 205 ppm; and Cainiya Sheng Wu He Suan, 20 ppm.  

Six of the above mercury-tainted products --- Ailkye Perfection Salvation Rosy Whitening A + B Set, Goree Beauty Cream, Angel Placenta Whitening Cream, Jiaoli 10 Days Eliminating Freckle Day & Night Set, Jiaoli 7 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, and Erna Whitening Cream --- are already banned by the FDA for containing mercury or for lacking the required cosmetic product notifications.

According to the latest public health advisory by the FDA, “adverse health effects brought about by highly toxic mercury in cosmetics products include kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring,” adding that “chronic use reduces the skin’s normal resistance against bacterial and fungal infections.”

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



https://ww2.fda.gov.ph/index.p hp/advisories-2/cosmetic-2/509 771-fda-advisory-no-2018-183