30 September 2018

Posh QC Village Collects E-Waste to Protect Mother Earth

The Ayala Heights Village Association (AHVA) yesterday conducted a collection program for waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), or what is commonly known as e-waste.

With the assistance from the “Safe PCB and E-Waste Management Project,” the collection program gathered assorted e-wastes brought by residents to the drop-off point located at the clubhouse of this exclusive village in Quezon City (PCB stands for polychlorinated biphenyl, a highly-toxic  mixture used as dielectric fluid in old transformers and capacitors).

The said project is led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) and supported by the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). 

Asked what motivated the association to conduct the e-waste collection event, Moppet Gonzales, President, AHVA, said: “We want to help in sustaining a healthy environment, especially for the next generation.  In our own little ways, our residents can decide to make a lifestyle change in favor of Mother Earth.”

The drop-off point manned by a team from the EcoWaste Coalition collected broken. obsolete or unwanted cathode ray tube (CRT) and liquid-crystal display (LCD) television sets, refrigerators, air conditioners, laptops, desktop printers, electric fans, and media players.   The items were later brought to an EMB-accredited facility in Laguna for safe recycling.

“These discarded electrical and electronic items contain hazardous substances that can harm human health and contaminate the environment if improperly recycled or disposed of such as through open burning and dumping,” said Primo Morillo, E-Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Among these hazardous substances are cadmium, lead and mercury and other heavy metals, flame retardant chemicals such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, which generates byproduct persistent organic pollutants (POPs), particularly dioxins and furans, when burned.

“In the absence of an extended producer responsibility (EPR) policy where manufacturers take back their e-waste, we find it important for an organized system to be put in place toward safe e-waste management in order to protect the health of the informal waste workers, including women and children, who bear the brunt of toxic pollution,” Morillo said. 

As noted in the “Safe PCB and E-Waste Management Project” document, “the bulk of WEEE end up in the unregulated informal sector which are oblivious to the health and environmental health hazards associated with its improper handling.”

According to the project document, “this is particularly striking since poverty is the main driver of WEEE recycling among the lower income brackets and who are, at the same time, most vulnerable to adverse health impact of improper WEEE handling.” 



27 September 2018

Groups Back Proposed QC Ordinance Banning Mercury-Laden Skin Whiteners

Quezon City-based groups urged members of the City Council to give its unanimous approval to an ordinance that will protect consumers, especially women, against mercury exposure through the use of contaminated skin lightening products.

At the public hearing held yesterday, the EcoWaste Coalition, Piglas Kababaihan and the Citizen Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability (COCAP), as well as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), expressed support for the enactment of Proposed Ordinance 20CC-439 co-introduced by District 1 Councilor Elizabeth Delarmente and over a dozen other councilors.

PO20CC-439, if adopted, would ensure strict compliance by Quezon City’s business and commercial establishments, as well as street, tiangge and online vendors, of the national ban on skin whitening creams, lotions and soaps containing mercury above the 1 part per million (ppm) limit set by the FDA in line with the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.

Elsie Brandes de Veyra, COCAP representative and former commissioner of the Philippine Commission on Women representing the elderly and the disabled,  pointed out that “mercury-laden skin lightening products are hazardous to health."

To illustrate the harmful effects of using such products, student interns at the EcoWaste Coalition showed to the councilors enlarged photos of victims afflicted with skin blotchiness, discoloration and scarring due to the use of mercury-laced skin lightening cosmetics.

Aside from serious skin problems, “direct and prolonged mercury exposure through the skin during repeated applications can cause damage to the brain, nervous systems and the kidneys,” the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized citing information from the UN Environment. 

According to community leader Mercy Donor of Piglas Kababaihan, there is a need for raising public awareness about the hazards of using mercury-laden skin whitening products. 

“Many ordinary consumers like us are not aware about the dangers posed by mercury-containing cosmetics that are supposed to give us flawless and whiter skin complexion.  The passage of the ordinance, we hope, will inform the public about skin whitening products that should be avoided to protect women and even babies in the womb against the harmful effects of mercury exposure,” she said.

For his part, Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition, noted the paramount importance of local government’s support in putting a stop to the illegal trade of skin whitening cosmetics with high mercury content.

“The support from local government units (LGUs) in terms of public information and law enforcement will greatly reinforce the efforts of national government agencies such as the DOH and FDA to rid the market of cosmetics with banned ingredients like mercury,” he said.

“Enacting PO20CC-439 will demonstrate Quezon City Government’s resolve to safeguard its citizens against health-damaging products, as well as provide other LGUs with a model ordinance that could make the sale of mercury-contaminated skin cosmetics a thing of the past,” he added.


25 September 2018

DTI, DOH Urged to Remove Lead Painted Vacuum Flasks from the Market

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental health NGO, today urged the government to take action that will cause the removal from the market of vacuum flasks found to be coated with lead-containing paint.

Through a letter sent today to Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Health, the toxics watch group notified the agency about the presence of high concentrations of lead on the paint coatings of three samples of unbranded vacuum flask that it procured from a discount store in Divisoria for P180 per unit.

The stainless steel flask with a removable plastic cap and stopper is decorated with pink or yellow paint and popular Disney cartoon characters.   The product label provides no information about the manufacturer or its local distributor.

“The withdrawal from the market of the lead painted vacuum flasks that are marketed for children’s use will protect young consumers from a potential source of lead exposure.  The lead paint on the exterior of the flask can wear off into chip and dust with its almost daily use and get ingested by kids through hand-to-mouth behavior.  Health experts have confirmed there is no safe level of lead exposure for children,” Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“As what is at stake is the health and safety of consumers, particularly children who are most vulnerable to the adverse effects of lead exposure, we hope concerned authorities will act with dispatch and take the lead painted vacuum flasks out of store shelves,” added Atty. Vic Dimagiba, President, Laban Konsyumer, Inc.

Using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device, the EcoWaste Coalition detected lead on the painted exterior of the three flasks way above the regulatory limit of 90 parts per million (ppm) as per the DENR A.O. 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds.

A yellow painted “Winnie the Pooh” flask had 37,600 ppm of lead.  A light pink painted “Disney Princess” flask had 4,154 ppm of lead.  A deep pink painted “Minnie Mouse” flask had 2,144 ppm of lead.

Lead, a potent neurotoxin, belongs to the Philippine Priority Chemical List and is banned in the production of architectural, household and decorative paints, in children’s toys and other consumer products that may pose lead exposure risk to consumers, especially to young children and pregnant women.

To justify the requested action, the groups cited the recall alert issued last April 19, 2018 by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on some 2,000 pieces of water bottles due to high levels of lead on the pink paint of the container that exceed the federal lead paint standard of 90 ppm.

The CPSC said that “lead is toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health issues” as it advised consumers to immediately stop using the recalled water bottles, take them away from children and return them to the store where it was sold.

It will be fitting to have the non-compliant products withdrawn from retail stores this coming October to coincide with the observance of the Consumer Welfare Month, the EcoWaste Coalition and Laban Konsyumer said. 

The groups also stated that the requested action will reiterate government’s support to the global goal “to prevent children’s exposure to lead from paints containing lead and to minimize occupational exposures to lead paint,” noting that the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week organized by the UN-backed Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint will take place on 21-27 October 2018.






23 September 2018

Toxics Watch Group Exposes Sale of Unregistered Skin Cream with High Lead Content

A medicated facial cream that claims to lighten the complexion and cure every skin woe has been found to be contaminated with lead, a potent neurotoxin.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit environmental and health group, aired the stark warning against “Top Shirley Medicated Cream” from Taiwan after finding lead impurities in this product, which is not notified or registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The group obtained the product yesterday, September 22, for P50 from LVD Chinese Drugstore located at 999 Shopping Mall in Divisoria, Manila.

Using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence analytical device, the group detected lead reaching 2,088 parts per million (ppm) on Top Shirley.  This is way above the trace amount limit of not more than 20 ppm for lead as per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive’s restrictions for heavy metal impurities.

“Lead is a highly toxic poison, which can be ingested or absorbed through the skin, that is why it is banned in cosmetic product formulations.  To protect public health and the environment, lead is not only banned in cosmetics, but also in gasoline, paints, toys, school supplies, water pipes, and food contact packaging,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We are worried that consumers craving to have lighter and flawless skin are being enticed to buy and use this unsafe product because of its efficacy claims and affordability,” he pointed out.

As written on the package insert, Top Shirley is the “best cream” that can “remove black heads, pimples, freckles and smooth wrinkles.”  According to the information provided, Top Shirley also “contains natural albumen and aloe base that have an effect on lightening facial skin.”

According to the US-based Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC), “lead is a well-known and proven neurotoxin that has been linked to learning, language and behavioral problems.”

“Lead has been linked to reduced fertility in both men and women, hormonal changes and menstrual irregularities. Pregnant women are especially vulnerable because lead crosses the placenta and may enter the fetal brain, and has also been linked to miscarriage,” the CSC fact sheet says.

To prevent exposure to heavy metals like lead and other health-damaging contaminants, the EcoWaste Coalition echoed the FDA’s advice telling consumers “to be vigilant against cosmetic products that might not be duly notified with the FDA.”

The FDA has time after time reminded consumers that it cannot guarantee the quality and safety of non-notified cosmetics because these products have not gone through the agency’s verification procedures.

“Always check if a cosmetic product has been notified with FDA before purchasing it by making use of the embedded search feature of the FDA website accessible at https://www.fda.gov.ph/,” the FDA suggested.





21 September 2018

Group Welcomes Baguio City Government’s Resolve to Address Problem on Toxic Cosmetics

Contraband cosmetics procured by the EcoWaste Coalition from retailers in Baguio City.  The Jiaoli and S'Zitang skin whitening creams were found to contain high concentrations of mercury, while the counterfeit MAC lipsticks were contaminated with excessive levels of lead.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a Quezon City-based environmental health NGO, has welcomed the moves by the Baguio City government to address the problem on toxic cosmetics being sold in the city.

The group had earlier written to the Office of Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan about the unlawful sale of contraband cosmetics that can expose consumers to lead and mercury -- toxic chemicals banned in cosmetic product formulations.

“We welcome the moves by the Baguio City Government, particularly the Health Services Office and the City Council, to address the problem with the unethical and unlawful sale of cosmetics that can pose serious health risks, especially to women consumers,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Through a letter sent to the group, City Health Officer Dr. Rowena Galpo said: “We are very thankful and appreciative of the extended efforts you have made during Baguio City’s Charter Day Celebration.” The group last September 1 went to Baguio and collected samples of unregistered skin whitening creams and lipsticks, which were found to be contaminated with mercury and lead.

“As a response to your letter, we immediately notified and forwarded your e-mail to the Food and Drug Administration of the Department of Health – Cordillera Administrative Region Office for them to look into the products being sold,” wrote Galpo.

“It was also agreed upon that our offices would meet the soonest to discuss plans on how to deal with the proliferation of these products that are very detrimental to the health of the population,” she said.

Galpo noted that the proposed “Cosmetic Products Regulation Ordinance” introduced by Councilor Leandro Yangot Jr. “is very timely because it addresses the issue at hand.”

“The Health Services Office has been very optimistic of the passage of this ordinance,” she added.

It will be recalled that the EcoWaste Coalition managed to buy skin whitening creams laced with mercury and lipsticks laden with lead from retail shops selling beauty and herbal products, Chinese medicines, and other goods in Baguio City.

The products containing heavy metal impurities are not notified with the Food and Drug Administration and have not undergone the required quality and safety assessment. 

The samples were later screened for toxic metals using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that “exposure to mercury – even in small amounts – may cause serious health problems, and is a threat to the development of the child in utero and early in life.” 
Mercury in skin lightening creams and soaps, can damage the kidneys, according to the WHO.  Mercury in products may also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as reduce skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, the WHO said.

Lead, according to the WHO, “is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems, including the neurological, hematological, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and renal systems” as per the WHO, which has also warned “there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe.”




18 September 2018

Palawan Barangays Get Trained on Zero Waste Management to Curb Threats to Marine Protected Areas

The implementation of ecological solid waste management, or ESWM, at the barangay level is essential if we are to prevent garbage from polluting water bodies, including marine protected areas in the province of Palawan.

This was the overriding message learned by over 50 participants from eight barangays of Puerto Princesa City who took part in a day-long training program on ESWM held today in Barangay Maruyugon.  Two more training events covering 12 more barangays with 175 participants will be held on September 19 and 20 in Barangay Santa Monica and Napsan.

The training events are organized by Candis 3 Marketing Cooperative as part of a biodiversity conservation project that is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Philippine-American Fund (Phil-Am Fund).

The training program is held in collaboration with the Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental health group advocating for a zero waste and toxics-free society.

“We have gathered our community leaders in the hope of assisting them in identifying gaps as well as solutions in the way discards are currently managed by our barangays,” said Bonifacio Tobias, Project Manager for C3MC’s project on “Mitigating Threats to Marine Protected Areas through Reducing and Recycling Solid Waste Materials.”

“Through the strengthened implementation of ESWM at the barangay level, we hope to prevent garbage, particularly plastic waste, from being carelessly dumped into our rivers and seas and causing harm to the marine ecosystems,” he said.

For her part, Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, highlighted the relevance of the training event amid the plan to erect a waste-to-energy incineration facility in Barangay Sta. Lourdes where Puerto Princesa’s landfill is also sited.

“The energetic enforcement of ESWM at the barangay level will result to greater environmental awareness and responsibility among residents, and this will surely lead to decreased generation of garbage through enhanced segregation of waste materials at source, recycling and composting,” she said.

“With less amount of garbage being generated by households, institutions and business establishments, who will need a quick-fix incineration-based disposal technology?,”  she asked.  

Towards the effective implementation of Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management, resource person Rey Palacio of the EcoWaste Coalition underscored the need for barangays to constitute functional Barangay Solid Waste Management Committees and for them to have adequate Barangay Solid Waste Management Plans to achieve “zero waste”.

“Simply put, zero waste means materials get reused, recycled and composted instead of being thrown away, dumped, burned or wasted,” he said.

Small group discussions helped the participants to reflect on gaps in current waste management policies practices and to identify solutions that will avoid the generation of waste at the point of generation, while improving waste diversion.  

Waste diversion,  as defined in R.A. 9003, refer to activities that reduce or eliminate the amount of solid wastes sent to waste disposal facilities such as landfills and incinerators.

Activities contributing to higher percentage of waste diversion include segregation at source, “no segregation, no collection,” reusing, recycling, repurposing, composting, and other waste prevention and reduction regulations and techniques, including clean production, Palacio said.


16 September 2018

EcoWaste Coalition Gives Helpful Eco-Tips for Post-Ompong Cleanup

Photos taken by the EcoWaste Coalition on 15 September 2018: Informal recyclers retrieve plastic bottles and other useful discards washed ashore in Manila Bay (first five photos from top); mercury lamp waste abandoned at the sidewalk along M. H. del Pilar St., Manila.   

A waste and pollution watch group today released a set of ecological and precautionary tips as tens of thousands of families clean up the damage caused by typhoon Ompong that battered Luzon and affected other regions with enhanced habagat rains.

“Cleaning up after a storm has passed is no easy task.  Depending on the extent of Ompong’s impact on your home, cleaning chores can be daunting and dangerous, too,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“To encourage families to clean up in a way that will not exacerbate the garbage disposal problem in affected communities, we have gathered some tips, which, if carried out, will cut waste and toxic exposure, protect human health, as well as conserve resources,” he added.

For his part, community leader Noli Abinales emphasized that "consciously avoiding the generation of more garbage during cleanup efforts will reduce the volume of rubbish sent to disposal sites such as dumps and landfills, which sadly are often located in environmentally critical areas, including watershed."  Abinales is adviser to Buklod Tao, a community organization based in disaster-prone San Mateo, Rizal and a board member of the EcoWaste Coalition.

The following 13 eco-tips, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed, is not an exhaustive list as the group urged Ompong-impacted families to observe other safety precautions as they tidy up the mess left by the typhoon.

1. Wear protective gloves and boots while cleaning up as a protection against animal bites, bruises, cuts, and water-borne diseases such as leptospirosis.

2. Use “free” water such as rainwater and grey water from laundry tubs, washing machines, showers and sinks to remove silt left behind after the flooding, scrub with soap and water, and then rinse thoroughly.

3.  Use natural cleaning products such as vinegar and water solution to remove dirt and grime from floors, walls, kitchen and toilet.

4.  Wipe glass windows clean using a damp newspaper (considered a "brown composting material"), which can be shredded after use for composting.  If needed, create a homemade non-toxic glass cleaner made out of vinegar and water.

5.  Clean furniture and other stuff that have been submerged in floodwater with hot soapy water and let them dry under the sun.

6.  Fix and reuse flood-soaked furnishings and other typhoon-affected items including blown-off roofing materials.

7.  Create non-toxic disinfectant for things contaminated by floodwater by mixing equal amounts of white vinegar and water.  The mixture can be placed on a spray bottle for easy application.

8.  Wash flood-drenched clothes and linens separately from uncontaminated ones.

9.  Reduce the volume of post-typhoon discards requiring disposal by safely repairing, reusing, repurposing and recycling them as much as possible; clean and use salvaged and reclaimed materials.

10.  Refrain from burning or dumping fallen leaves and twigs and other biodegradable debris, and compost them instead. 

11.  Do not mix mercury-containing busted lamps and other hazardous items, including broken TVs and other e-wastes, with regular household discards as such wastes require special handling and disposal due to their toxic content.

12.  Remove all trash that can collect and hold water where Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can lay their eggs.

13.  If so required, give damaged parts of your home a fresh coat of certified lead-safe paint.


14 September 2018

Environmental Advocates Plead for Proper Waste Management as Communities Brace for Typhoon Ompong

Environmentalists were quick to remind the public to mind their trash as communities in large sections of the country, particularly in Luzon and Metro Manila, brace for the onslaught of typhoon Ompong.

Noli Abinales, Adviser of Buklod Tao and Board Member of the EcoWaste Coalition, urged affected citizens to make it a point to include the ecological management of discards before, during and after Ompong as an essential  part of the household and community preparation for the severe weather disturbance.

“Waste prevention and reduction is a key component of any effective community-based disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM).  The faithful implementation of good practices in ecological waste management will help in reducing the typhoon’s impact to community health and the environment,” said Abinales, a resident of San Mateo, Rizal and survivor of the deadly typhoon Ondoy in 2009.

“We need to cut the volume of what we throw out as our dumpsites are already bursting at the seams.  We need to ensure as well that what we dispose of are safely managed so as not to pose harm to our families, neighbors, waste workers, and our fragile ecosystems as a whole,” he added.

A DRRM champion, Abinales emphasized that ecological solid waste management should be incorporated in all phases of DRRM strategy, including, disaster prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response, and rehabilitation and reconstruction.

“Attesting to the importance of ESWM was the recent risk profiling of our community's vulnerable groups conducted last summer.  Women, older persons, persons with disabilities and youth singled out mismanaged waste as one disaster risk factor.  Its consequences or impacts to our communities include , clogged drainage and esteros, exposure to illness and unhealthy environment,” he said.

"Ecological solid waste management is an essential element of any DRRM strategy that has to be put in place even before a disaster strikes, " he emphasized.

For his part, Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition, called on all the Barangay Solid Waste Management Boards (BSWMBs) to  take the lead in enforcing Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, as part of the community preparation for typhoon Ompong. 

“The vigorous enforcement of R.A. 9003, led by active BSWMBs, will complement the DRRM efforts by the public and private sectors and should be strongly supported by all as this will make the lives of everyone, especially the vulnerable groups, cleaner and safer,” he said.

Both Buklod Tao and the EcoWaste Coalition expressed their hopes that communities located in the path of typhoon Ompong will weather the storm.



12 September 2018

Toxics Watch Group Alerts FDA on Cosmetics Contaminated with Mercury and Lead

TOXIC FINDS: Lead-containing medicated cream with skin lightening effect (above) and 11 mercury-containing skin whitening creams.   

A non-profit group tracking toxic chemicals in products and wastes has notified the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the illegal sale of 12 unregistered cosmetics laden with poisonous chemicals.

Through a letter sent today, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the FDA to put out a public health warning against the consumption of 11 skin whitening creams containing high concentrations of mercury and one medicated cream with skin lightening effect that is laden with lead. 

“To inform and protect women consumers against the harmful effects of mercury and lead in cosmetics, we urge the FDA to issue an advisory against these dangerous skin whitening products and to cause their immediate removal from the market,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Removing these products from store shelves will also help in reducing mercury and lead in waste,” he added.

Among the products with mercury content above the trace amount limit of 1 part per million (ppm) as per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive (ACD) were: Parley Whitening Cream, with 32,900 ppm; Ailkye Boost Luster Superior Whitening , 31,100 ppm; Ailkye Perfection Salvation Rosy Whitening A + B Set, 30,200 ppm; Aneeza Gold Beauty Cream, 21,600 ppm; Parley Beauty Cream, 18,300 ppm; Face Lift Whitening Beauty Cream, 17,000 ppm; Aneeza Saffron Whitening Cream, 16,500 ppm; Zahra Beauty Cream, 9,780 ppm; Feique Lemon Whitening Freckle-Removing Cream, 7,988 ppm; Meyyong (Seaweed) Super Whitening, 1,563 ppm; and RDL Whitening Treatment,  3,615 ppm.

Top Shirley Medicated Cream was found to contain 2,180 ppm of lead, exceeding  ACD’s limit of 20 ppm.

The products, procured by the EcoWaste Coalition for P60 to P500 each from retailers in Baclaran and Divisoria and from online dealers, were screened for toxic metals using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer.

The products were mostly illegally imported from China, Pakistan, Taiwan and Thailand.

Mercury and lead are toxic chemicals not permitted in cosmetic product formulations under the ACD and are, in fact, included in the list of “ten chemicals of major public health concern” of the World Health Organization (WHO).   

The Minamata Convention on Mercury, which the Philippines signed in 2013 but has yet to ratify it, targets the phase-out by 2020 of cosmetics, including skin lightening products, with mercury above 1 ppm.

The EcoWaste Coalition’s report “Beauty and the Risk,” published in 2015 to support the country’s implementation and ratification of the Minamata Convention, has confirmed the sale of mercury-added skin whitening products in 50 cities all over the Philippines, underlining the need to  halt the unlawful trade of such dangerous cosmetics at an accelerated pace.

According to the WHO, “exposure to mercury – even in small amounts – may cause serious health problems, and is a threat to the development of the child in utero and early in life.”  Mercury in skin lightening creams and soaps, can damage the kidneys, and cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as reduce skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, the WHO said.

“Young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead and can suffer profound and permanent adverse health effects, particularly affecting the development of the brain and nervous system,” the WHO said.

According to the WHO, “lead also causes long-term harm in adults, including increased risk of high blood pressure and kidney damage. Exposure of pregnant women to high levels of lead can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight.”




06 September 2018

EcoWaste Coalition Lauds Consensus to Ban Plastic Microbeads in Rinse-Off Personal Care Products

Representatives from the Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association of the Philippines, Chamber of Cosmetic Industry of the Philippines and the EcoWaste Coalition with Ako Bicol Party-list Representative Rodel M. Batocabe (second from right) at the House Committee on Ecology hearing last September 5.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watch group, has lauded the support from various sectors to a legislative measure that will prohibit the use of plastic microbeads in rinse-off personal care products.

At yesterday’s hearing of the Committee on Ecology of the House of Representatives, government, industry and civil society representatives voiced their support to House Bill 8120, particularly with respect to banning plastic microbeads, a known ocean pollutant, in rinse-off personal care products such as facial cleansers, body washes, toothpastes and others.

Ako Bicol Party-list Representatives Rodel M. Batocabe, Alfredo A. Garbin, Jr. and Christopher S. Co. co-authored HB 8120, or the proposed “Microplastic Ban Act  of 2018,” which is now co-introduced by Representatives Lawrence H. Fortun, Estrellita B. Suansing,  Ma. Lucille Naia, Maximo Rodriguez, and Linabelle Ruth R. Villarica.

“The broad support to the proposal to ban plastic microbeads in rinse-off personal care products will facilitate the bill’s expedited approval by lawmakers,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition, as he noted the positive interventions made at the hearing by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),Consumer Protection and Advocacy  Group-DTI,  Chamber of Cosmetic Industry of the Philippines (CCIP),  Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association of the Philippines, Philippine Society for Cosmetic Science, and UL Skin Sciences Inc.

“The passage of the bill as amended will help in addressing the escalating threat of microplastic pollution to the health of the oceans and aquatic life,” Dizon said.

“We hope that a parallel bill will be introduced soon at the Senate to speed up the ban on plastic microbeads,” he added.

The extremely tiny plastic microbeads in personal care products go down the drain and into waterways, polluting the oceans with microplastics that can attract and absorb hazardous chemicals, including persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which are consumed by  fish and other marine organisms who mistake them for food, Dizon explained.

At the hearing , Emil Virtudes, President of CCIP, expressed industry support for the measure as he cited the statement by the ASEAN Cosmetic Association recommending to its members “the discontinuation of the use of plastic microbeads in rinse-off personal care products” for the protection of the marine environment.

Engr. Ana Rivera, Director of the FDA Center for Cosmetics Regulation and Research, proposed, among other pertinent points,  an amendment to the bill’s definition of plastic microbeads so as not to limit the scope or coverage of the bill.  As an example, she cited the definition by the Global Plastic Task Force for plastic microbeads as “any intentionally added, 5 mm or less, water insoluble, solid plastic particle use to exfoliate or cleanse in rinse-off personal care products.”

It will be recalled that in January 2017, the EcoWaste Coalition and over 50 other environmental conservation and protection groups wrote to  the Department of Health and the FDA to urge the government to ban plastic microbeads in personal care and cosmetic products.

This was followed by a petition in April 2017 led by the EcoWaste Coalition and counterpart NGOs in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam urging the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to prohibit, as a  regional bloc, the use of plastic microbeads in personal care and cosmetic products “to cut ocean pollution and protect marine life.”

To boost the local campaign, the EcoWaste Coalition collaborated with the CCIP to bring Dr. Ann Blake, a public health and environmental consultant, to the 3rd Philippines International Beauty Show in May 2017 for a presentation on “Microplastics in Cosmetics:  A Rapidly Emerging Environmental Concern.”

The second United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) had stated that “the presence of plastic litter and microplastics in the marine environment is a rapidly increasing serious issue of global concern that needs an urgent global response.”

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




03 September 2018

Baguio LGU Urged to Crack Down on Peddlers of Dangerous Cosmetics Laden with Mercury and Lead (Skin whiteners, lipsticks among those found contaminated with heavy metals)

 Skin whiteners laced with mercury and lipsticks laden with lead illegally sold in Baguio City. 
FDA-banned skin lightening products on sale at Jerry and Hayden Herbal and General Merchandise located at Rajah Solimat St., Baguio City.
Counterfeit MAC lipsticks containing high concentrations of toxic lead are sold for P120 each at Jian Ling General Merchandise at Maharlika Livelihood Complex.

The Baguio City Government is being urged by an environmental health NGO to crack down on the unlawful sale of cosmetics containing chemical poisons such as lead and mercury.

Through a letter e-mailed to the office of Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, the Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition reported the sale of contraband skin whitening creams and lipsticks that are laden with lead and mercury – two of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern” as per the World Health Organization (WHO). 

“We respectfully request your office to take immediate action to stop the illegal sale of mercury and lead contaminated cosmetics in Baguio City.  Your immediate action will protect the health of your constituents, particularly women and girls, from being exposed to these dangerous substances,”  wrote Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Your action will support the FDA’s relentless drive to rid the market of cosmetics with heavy metal impurities and other contaminants,” he added.

In test buys conducted last Saturday (Baguio City’s Charter Day), the group managed to procure six skin whitening creams (P100 each) and two lipsticks (P120 each) from stores selling beauty and herbal products, Chinese medicines, and general line of merchandise in the central business district.

The samples were later screened for toxic metals using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device. 

“As the Jiaoli and S’Zitang whitening creams we bought are already among those banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the high mercury content of these products in the range of 319 to 3,863 parts per million (ppm) came as no surprise,” said Dizon, who also noted that the analyzed creams came with a list of ingredients on the package insert, but none listed mercury as an ingredient.

The ASEAN Cosmetic Directive has put a trace amount limit of 1 ppm for mercury in cosmetics.  Also, the Minamata Convention on Mercury that the Philippine government signed in 2013 requires the phase-out by 2020 of cosmetics, including skin lightening products with mercury above 1 ppm.

Lead above the 20 ppm limit under the Asean Cosmetic Directive was also detected in the sampled lipsticks.  Two counterfeit MAC Mariah Carey lipsticks showed outrageous concentrations of lead at 11,200 ppm and 42,800 ppm.  The two lipsticks also had arsenic, chromium and mercury above levels of concern.

The EcoWaste Coalition pointed out that none of the samples had the required market authorization from the FDA in the form of a cosmetic product notification and are therefore illegal to sell. 

The FDA has repeatedly warned that “cosmetics without FDA notification should not be sold, nor offered for sale to or use by the consumers” to protect the public against adulterated, contaminated, harmful and inferior products.

According to the WHO, “exposure to mercury – even in small amounts – may cause serious health problems, and is a threat to the development of the child in utero and early in life.”  Mercury in skin lightening creams and soaps, can damage the kidneys, according to the WHO.  Mercury in products may also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as reduce skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, the WHO said.

Lead, which like mercury, is not allowed in cosmetic product formulations, “is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems, including the neurological, hematological, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and renal systems” as per the WHO, which has also warned “there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe.”

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