31 December 2018

Group Urges DOH Region 10 to Crack Down on Illegal Sale of Mercury-Tainted Skin Whitening Cosmetics


 18 contraband mercury-laced skin whitening cosmetics bought from CDO retailers.
 Receipts provided by retail outlets where the contraband items were purchased.
 Banned Jiaoli and Xinjiaoli skin whitening cosmetics on sale at TH Cagayan.
Banned Jiaoli and S'Zitang products sold at a store located at Angel Chavez Complex, Cogon.
Banned Jiaoli and S'Zitang products sold at another store located at Angel Chavez Complex, Cogon.

The EcoWaste Coalition has appealed to the Department of Health (DOH) in Region 10 to initiate a crackdown on the unlawful sale of dangerous skin lightening cosmetics laden with mercury, a highly toxic chemical, that are defiantly sold in Cagayan de Oro City (CDO).

The non-profit environmental and health group based in Quezon City notified DOH Regional Director Dr. Nimfa B. Torrizo through an e-mail last Saturday about the unrestrained sale of skin whitening creams in CDO that are among those already banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to their high mercury content.

The same  letter was also furnished to the offices of DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III, FDA Director General Nela Charade Puno, and FDA CCRR Director Ana Trinidad Rivera.

To protect consumers from being harmed by mercury in cosmetics, the EcoWaste Coalition advised  DOH-Region 10 to take immediate action to stop the all-out sale of mercury-contaminated skin whitening products in CDO.

“We urge your office to conduct rapid post-market surveillance in CDO and other major cities in Northern Mindanao and to prosecute the violators to the full extent of the law, including padlocking stores caught in flagrante delicto,” wrote Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

A team from the EcoWaste Coalition was in CDO last week for the historic meeting hosted by the Bureau of Customs-Region 10 to discuss the repatriation of the 6,500 tons of mixed garbage stranded in Tagoloan to its origin in Pyeongtaek City in South Korea.   

“Our team then took the opportunity to conduct a quick market investigation to determine if skin whitening cosmetics, particularly facial creams banned by the FDA, are sold in CDO,” Dizon said.

“Much to our shock, we found several imported skin whitening cosmetics banned by the FDA openly and unashamedly being sold by retailers engaged in the sale of beauty and herbal products, as well as Chinese medicines, especially in Cogon,” he said.

The group bought 18 pieces of banned Collagen Plus Vit E, Erna, JJJ, Jiaoli, S’Zitang and Xinjiaoli skin whitening creams, costing P80 to P300 each, from nine stores located in Cogon, Divisoria and Lapasan.  

Upon the team’s return to Manila, the products were screened for mercury using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) chemicals analyzer.

All 18 products, illegally imported from China and Indonesia, were found contaminated with mercury above the allowable limit of 1 ppm.  Collagen Plus Vit E had the highest concentration of mercury at 6,020 ppm.

According to 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.”  

Other health effects of mercury exposure through the use of skin whitening cosmetics include anxiety, depression or psychosis and peripheral neuropathy. “The transfer of mercury to fetuses of pregnant women may manifest as neurodevelopment deficits later in life,” the FDA said.

“To protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic releases of mercury and mercury compounds,” governments, including the Philippines, signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury in October 2013. 

This treaty, among other provisions, has set a global phase-out target by 2020 for cosmetics, including skin lightening creams and soaps, with mercury content above 1 ppm.

-end-

30 December 2018

Waste and Pollution Watchdog Says Okada’s Balloon Drop to Set Record-Breaking Wastefulness, Urges Posh Hotel and Resort Complex to Junk Wasteful Entertainment

https://politics.com.ph/boo-sering-slams-okada-plan-to-drop-balloon-trash-on-new-years-eve/


The waste and pollution watch group, EcoWaste Coalition, has joined the public outcry over the controversial balloon drop on New Year’s Eve at the luxurious Okada Manila, which it said would set a record-breaking wastefulness.

The group asserted that the event’s wastefulness is not lessened by the use of biodegradable balloons and the supposed plan to send the spent balloons to a recycling facility instead of being dumped or landfilled, stressing that recycling should not be used to justify the generation of waste.

"The event for sure will be record-breaking for its wastefulness considering the resources required to make the balloons and to organize the balloon drop for a few minutes of hollow entertainment for those who can afford it," said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

Lucero pointed out that the resources spent for the provocative event should have been used for worthy causes like giving media noche bundles for the poor.

The group insisted that the massive dropping of 130,000 balloons at Cove Manila should be cancelled in light of the uproar that has prompted the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to intervene.

As confirmed by DENR Usec. Benny Antiporda to the EcoWaste Coalition, the department has already issued a formal order directing Okada Manila not to proceed with the balloon drop that has outraged Netizens and various environmental groups.

“We commend the DENR for issuing such directive and we hope it will be duly enforced,” noted Lucero. 

The EcoWaste Coalition yesterday wrote to Mr. Heathcliff Motorga, Director of Cove Manila, urging him “to call off the balloon dropping event for the sake of the environment.”

“We are particularly concerned with the environmental soundness of inflating and discarding 130,000 balloons for a few minutes of merriment of your highly privileged 3,000 guests, which, after the event, will likely be disposed of at a place where poor people live and work,” wrote Lucero.   

“Considering the colossal volume of trash that our country generates, estimated at over 40,000 tons per day, we cannot help but question the propriety of (holding) wasteful events,” she stated. 

“We fear that Okada Manila will not only smash the current Guinness World Record for the largest indoor balloon drop, but also establish a new world record for the most number of used balloons sent to the dump from a single event,” she said.

-end-

The group’s open letter to Cove and Okada Manila can be viewed here:

http://ecowastecoalition.blogspot.com/2018/12/open-letter-to-cove-manila-and-okada.html


EcoWaste Coalition Pursues Grassroots Drive for Safe and Non-Hazardous Revelry to Usher in 2019










Rain or shine, hundreds of people heeded the calls for a non-injurious and non-hazardous celebration of the New Year minus firecrackers and fireworks.

At an event organized by the EcoWaste Coalition and the Malate Catholic Church, community members from 11 barangays in Manila took part in the “Iwas Paputoxic” drive to whip up mass support for a festive but safe and clean way of heralding the New Year.

““We have come here today to stir up community support for a gentler way of welcoming the New Year without causing injuries, hazardous wastes, greenhouse gases and other pollutants due to the use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“As the number of firecracker-related injuries soars as New Year nears, we appeal to our barangay and other local leaders from the youth, health, business and religious sectors to act as one in promoting alternative merrymaking that will protect life, limb and property, and the environment, too” he emphasized. 

For his part Columban priest Father John Leydon of the Malate Catholic Church said: “We encourage our communities to heed the plea for a non-injurious, non-toxic and climate-friendly way of heralding the New Year.  By doing so, we protect ourselves, especially the young children, from harm and pollution.”  

“Aside from the sounds and lights, let’s welcome 2019 with prayers thanking the Almighty for looking after our families and nation as we seek His blessing and protection for the New Year,” added Leydon who also serves as Co-Convener of the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM-Pilipinas).

Before parading through the streets of Malate, the participants gathered at the Remedios Circle to hear timely reminders from church, police, fire and health officials.

Members of the Parish Youth Ministry also performed a street drama to show the ill effects of firecrackers and to dissuade kids from playing with firecrackers, especially the small but very dangerous piccolo.

During the parade, the participants held colorful “Iwas Paputoxic” banners and placards as they created sounds from a variety of emission-free noisemakers. 

One group of teenagers donning pig masks were seen holding placards that say “have a safe and clean year of the pig” and “ligtas at malinis na salubong sa taon ng baboy,” noting that 2019 is the “Year of the Earth Pig,” according to the Chinese zodiac.   

Among the substitute noisemakers flaunted by the participants were pots, pans and other kitchen utensils, homemade musical instruments such as maracas and shakers from recycled materials, as well as colorful paper and plastic trumpets.

For public health and safety and for a cleaner environment, the groups reiterated the following reminders:  1) no lighting of firecrackers and fireworks, 2) no flying of sky lanterns, 3) no polyvinyl chloride (PVC) boga, 4) no firing of guns, and 5) no open burning of garbage.

29 December 2018

Open Letter to Cove Manila and Okada Manila re December 31 Balloon Drop




29 December 2018

Mr. Heathcliff Motorga 
Director
Cove Manila
Okada Manila, New Seaside Drive, Entertainment City, 1701 ParaƱaque City
Philippines

Dear Mr.  Motorga, 

Subject: Balloon Drop at Cove Manila

Season’s greetings from the Ecological Waste Coalition of the Philippines, Inc.  (EcoWaste Coalition), a non-profit environmental health and justice network of over 140 groups that are working for a zero waste and toxics-free society.

We write to express our utmost concern regarding the upcoming indoor balloon drop at Cove Manila on December 31 as part of Okada Manila’s grand countdown to 2019.  As you have announced, you plan to drop 130,000 balloons in an attempt to break the current Guinness Book of World Records of 109,000 for the largest indoor balloon drop.

We are particularly concerned with the environmental soundness of inflating and discarding 130,000 balloons for a few minutes of merriment of your highly privileged 3,000 guests, which, after the event, will likely be disposed of at a place where poor people live and work.   

Considering the colossal volume of trash that our country generates, estimated at over 40,000 tons per day, we cannot help but question the propriety of wasteful events such as the balloon drop that Cove Manila is set to do on New Year’s Eve.  

The 130,000 balloons to be dropped will have to go somewhere and we wonder what your plans are for their management or disposal soon after the revelry.  We fear that Okada Manila will not only smash the current Guinness World Record for the largest indoor balloon drop, but also establish a new world record for the most number of used balloons sent to the dump from a single event.  

While our wish may be next to impossible, we still beg you to call off the balloon dropping event for the sake of the environment.

If our wish cannot be granted, we call upon your company to do what is necessary to ensure that none of the spent balloons will be disposed of in a manner that will add to our country’s waste and pollution woes.

Thank you very much for heeding our plea and best wishes.

Sincerely yours,

Aileen Lucero
National Coordinator
EcoWaste Coalition

28 December 2018

EcoWasteCoalition Partners with Barangay Project 6 in QC for a Festive, But Non-Injurious and Non-Toxic Welcome of 2019


The much-anticipated yearend revelry to welcome 2019 need not cause grievous bodily harm, as well as hazardous waste and pollution.

This was the message that resonated with the hundreds of community members, including children and youth, who participated in today’s “Iwas Paputoxic” campaign at Barangay Project in Quezon City. 

Jointly organized by the EcoWaste Coalition and the Barangay Project 6 Council, in collaboration with health, police and fire agencies and dozens of civic groups, the campaign underscored the fact that firecrackers and fireworks are toxic to humans, as well as to the environment.

“We are gathered here today to drum up grassroots support for a kinder way of ushering in the New Year sans burn injuries, severed fingers, hazardous residuals and toxic fumes resulting from the use of firecrackers and other pyrotechnic devices,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“With the involvement of all community stakeholders led by the Barangay Chairman and his Council, we hope to promote alternative merrymaking that will protect life, limb and property and put public health and safety ahead of profit,” he emphasized.  

The group expressed its hope that firecracker-related injuries, mostly affecting children age 10 to 14, will be further reduced from 932 in 2015, 633 in 2016, and 463 in 2017 with more active community engagement. 

Of the 463 recorded firecracker injuries during the 2018 revelry, 248 cases happened in Metro Manila with Quezon City ranking second with 30 cases after Manila which had the most cases at 116. 

“To enjoin the people, particularly the children, youth and their parents, to refrain from igniting firecrackers and fireworks is the right thing to do if we want to keep our constituents safe from injuries, fires and from hazardous pollutants,” said Honie Llamas, Chairman of Barangay Project 6.

“We hope other barangays will follow our lead and actively campaign for a safe, clean and non-toxic way of welcoming 2019,” he added.

To show that the New Year excitement and fun is not in any way diminished by the non-use of firecrackers and fireworks, various community and youth organizations contributed to the lively program preceding the parade.

Members of Parish Youth Ministry presented a skit on firecracker injury prevention plus a dance number that thrilled the crowd.

The program was enriched by messages given by Quezon City District 1 Councilor Elizabeth Delarmente and by health, fire and police officials.

Before the celebratory parade around the neighborhood, the “Iwas Paputoxic” participants mimicked a countdown to the New Year featuring sounds from a variety of substitute noisemakers, including improvised maracas, pots and pans, and paper and plastic horns.

-end-

Reference:

https://www.doh.gov.ph/node/12439

25 December 2018

EcoWaste Coalition Reminds Parents to Supervise Kids While Playing with Torotot (Blow your torotot with care - EcoWaste Coalition)






A group promoting non-toxic alternatives to firecrackers and fireworks emphasized the need for parental supervision as children may opt for torotot (paper or plastic hornpipe) as a substitute noisemaker in the run-up to the New Year.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a partner of the Department of Health-led Iwas Paputok campaign, issued the reminder as torotot vendors enjoy brisk sales with the New Year revelry fast approaching.

“If a torotot is the preferred noisemaker, parents should select a well-made torotot and supervise a child while she or he plays with it.  The importance of parental responsibility cannot be overemphasized as the torotots being sold in the market contain zero instruction on proper use and their quality and safety cannot be guaranteed,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“While a torotot will not blow off a child’s fingers or give off toxic fumes, it may cause injuries requiring medical care as well as add to the revelry garbage,” he warned.

Among the potential injuries from the use of torotot are 1) choking due to the accidental ingestion of the horn’s mouthpiece or whistle, 2) cuts or lacerations due to the sharp edges of the horn’s bell, and 3) noise-induced hearing loss due to loud sounds.

“A torotot contains small parts like the mouthpiece or whistle that can be detached and get swallowed by a child causing an airway blockage,” Dizon explained.

Dizon cited the two choking incidents in 2010 involving children aged 3 and 8, which prompted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue Health Advisory 2011-017 entitled “Warning on the Possible Choking Hazard Associated with the use of Torotot.”  

“Some cone-shaped plastic horns have sharp edges that can cut a child’s sensitive skin,” he  said.

“Also, some torotot may produce very loud sounds that can be harmful or distressing to humans as well as animals,” Dizon said, adding that “sound exceeding 85 decibels can damage hearing.”

The EcoWaste Coalition further raised the issue of torotot adding to the New Year revelry garbage.

Torotots are often disposed of as trash after the festivities.  It’s not difficult to spot them on the heaps of garbage following the merrymaking on New Year’s eve,” Dizon said.

“The proliferation of plastic torotots is a cause of concern as this may be unnecessarily adding to the mounting plastic pollution that the global community is faced with and is trying to address,” he said.

“The plastic torotots after their useful lives will have to go somewhere and we are not sure how much of these are reused or recycled at all,” he said.

To save money and to avoid the generation of more garbage this New Year, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed that banging pots and pans will definitely do the trick.

No matter what your preferred noisemaker is, parental supervision is highly recommended to prevent any untoward event that may harm a child, the group pointed out.

-end-   

Reference:



It’s Christmas Day and the Korean garbage shipments are still here. Ship them back to South Korea now!






Photos of illegal garbage exports from South Korea in Misamis Oriental (photos taken by the EcoWaste Coalition on December 11, 2018).

“Our exasperating experience with the illegal trash imports from Canada, which are still stranded in our country, has taught us how important it is to have a defined date. That’s why we want the South Korean government to give us a 2018 return date and keep its promise for expedited action.” – EcoWaste Coalition

24 December 2018

1 Day Before Christmas: Ship Back Korean Garbage to Its Origin Now



Photos by the EcoWaste Coalition: Korean garbage dumped in Misamis Oriental (above). Environmental justice activists press for the re-export of the Korean garbage before Christmas at a “Keep your promise” caroling action outside the South Korean Embassy in Taguig City on December 13, 2018 (below).

23 December 2018

2 Days Before Christmas: Ship Back Korean Garbage to Its Origin Now




Photos by the EcoWaste Coalition: Korean garbage dumped in Misamis Oriental (above).  Environmental justice activists press for the re-export of the Korean garbage before Christmas at a “Keep your promise” caroling action outside the South Korean Embassy in Taguig City on December 13, 2018 (below)

Group Denounces Sale of Mercury-Laden Cosmetics in Cubao, QC, Appeals to Retail Stores to Comply with City Ordinance 2767






A toxics watch group has deplored the over-the-counter sale of banned mercury-laden skin whitening cosmetics by some retail outlets in Cubao, Quezon City.

The EcoWaste Coalition last Friday, December 21, chanced upon the illegal sale in Cubao of dangerous Jiaoli and S’Zitang skin whitening products from China, an act that is forbidden under Quezon City Ordinance No. 2767.

Photos taken by the group show Jiaoli and S’Zitang products on display in at least three stores operating inside Shopwise-Cubao.  The unnamed stores sell beauty and herbal products.

Jiaoli and S’Zitang are among the skin whitening products banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to their mercury content, which “pose imminent danger or injury to the consuming public," according to the agency.

Approved by Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista on November 19, 2018, City Ordinance No. 2767 authored by District 1 Councilor Elizabeth Delarmente prohibits “the manufacture, importation, marketing and promotion, distribution and sale of cosmetics with mercury content in excess of 1 part per million (ppm).

The said ordinance also bans “the sale, wholesale or retail, of cosmetics that have not been authorized by the FDA and/or have not complied with the labeling requirements,” as well as “the open dumping, open burning and/or disposal of banned, recalled and/or confiscated mercury-containing cosmetics along with regular solid waste.”   

The continuing trade of banned mercury-laden skin whitening cosmetics in Cubao should prompt the city government into conducting effective public information and law enforcement activities starting January 2019 to meet the objectives of City Ordinance 2767, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.

The EcoWaste Coalition called upon the retail stores to immediately halt their unlawful business, which can endanger the public health and pollute the environment with mercury.  “These non-compliant stores should do the right thing and not wait for their business license to be cancelled by the city authorities,” the group said.

Mercury is a highly toxic chemical with no known level of exposure that is considered safe, the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized, adding that fetuses, babies, children, and pregnant women are most vulnerable to the health effects of mercury.

According to the World Health Organization and the United Nations Environment, “mercury use in cosmetic products can have adverse effects including skin rashes, discoloring and scarring, reduce skin’s resistance to bacterial and mycotic disorders, and cause damage to the brain, nervous system and kidneys.”

The Minamata Convention on Mercury, which the Philippine government through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources signed in 2013, has targeted the phase-out by 2020 of cosmetics, including skin lightening creams and soaps, with mercury content above 1 ppm.

The said treaty, which entered into force in August 2017, has yet to be ratified by the Duterte administration. The EcoWaste Coalition and other concerned environmental groups seek the much-delayed ratification of the said chemical treaty, which aims "to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds."

-end-

Reference:

https://www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/mercury_flyer.pdf
http://www.mercuryconvention.org/

22 December 2018

3 Days Before Christmas: Ship Back Korean Garbage to Its Origin Now




Photos by the EcoWaste Coalition: Korean garbage dumped in Misamis Oriental (above).  Environmental justice activists press for the re-export of the Korean garbage before Christmas at a “Keep your promise” caroling action outside the South Korean Embassy in Taguig City on December 13, 2018 (below)

Gift-Giving Advice: Please Avoid Unnecessary Packaging and Wrapping to Reduce Trash


As shopping for gift items hits frenzy level as Christmas nears, a waste and pollution watch group urged the public not to make the cheerful tradition of gift-giving a sad one for environment due to the thoughtless use and  disposal of gift wrappers.

“Gift-giving can generate a lot of discards that, more often than not, go straight to the bin.  Instead of keeping them for the next gift-giving, we find gift boxes, wrappers, and accessories habitually tossed into the dump,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.  

“Gift-giving need not dirty and pollute our environment with more garbage.  With a little creativity, we can make our gift-giving tradition less wasteful and less stressful for Mother Earth,” he pointed out.

To conserve resources and cut on gift wrap waste, the EcoWaste Coalition has come up with some suggestions to avoid the purchase and ensuing disposal of gift wrappers and  trimmings this merry season. 

1.  Choose gift items with less packaging or require no wrapping.  

2.  If wrapping is needed, opt for substitute wrappers such as magazine pages, Sunday comics, potato-chip packs, etc.

3.  For tying, go for abaca and other native twine, strips of scrap fabric, etc.

4.  To protect fragile items from breakage, try crunched or shredded paper in lieu of bubble wrap or foam peanuts.

5.  Make use of brown grocery bags, shoe boxes, tin cans, empty jars, etc. as gift receptacles.

6.  Upcycle old clothes, fabric scraps, spare scarves, orphaned socks, and old pillows into gift wraps.  

7.  To embellish recycled gift packs, use unwanted fashion accessories, old cards, magazine cutouts, dried leaves and twigs, etc. 

8.  Try Furoshiki, the Japanese art of wrapping, using vintage scarves or fabric scraps (check the Internet for free tutorials).  

9.  Put an unwrapped gift into a reusable cloth bag, which can be reused as a carry or shopping bag.

10.  Refrain from putting wrapped gifts in plastic bags.

11.  Cut and turn old Christmas cards into gift tags.

12. Carefully unwrap gifts and save the wrappers, ribbons and bows for the next gift-giving.

Another idea is to altogether drop gift wrapping and to just ask the recipient to close her or his eyes for a few seconds and then reveal the gift as it is.  

The EcoWaste Coalition had earlier called for a plastic-less celebration of Christmas and New Year holidays, so as not to aggravate the country's ballooning waste production of over 40,000 tons per day.

For a plastic-less Christmas and New Year, the group offered the following tips: 1)  bring reusable bags and containers on your trip to the wet market, tiangge, department store or shopping mall, 2) refrain from buying over packaged products, 3) avoid disposable cutlery (spoons, forks, knives) and crockery (dishes, plates, cups), 4) give plastic-free gifts, and 5) opt for home-made reusable holiday decorations.  

21 December 2018

4 Days Before Christmas: Ship Back Korean Garbage to Its Origin Now




Photos by the EcoWaste Coalition: Korean garbage dumped in Misamis Oriental (above).  Environmental justice activists press for the re-export of the Korean garbage before Christmas at a “Keep your promise” caroling action outside the South Korean Embassy in Taguig City on December 13, 2018 (below).

5 Days Before Christmas: Ship Back Korean Garbage to Its Origin Now




Photos by the EcoWaste Coalition: Korean garbage dumped in Misamis Oriental (above).  Environmental justice activists press for the re-export of the Korean garbage before Christmas at a “Keep your promise” caroling action outside the South Korean Embassy in Taguig City on December 13, 2018 (below).