27 June 2019

Mindanao LGUs Urged to Protect Their Constituents against Mercury Poisoning from Banned Skin Whitening Cosmetics






A non-profit group tracking toxic chemicals in products and wastes has alerted local government units (LGUs) in seven cities in Mindanao about the unlawful sale of mercury-laden skin whitening cosmetics in their areas of jurisdiction.

In a press statement, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the local government, health and police authorities of Cagayan de Oro, Oroquieta, Ozamiz, Iligan, Dipolog, Pagadian, and Zamboanga Cities to act fast to stop the illegal trade of such toxic skin whiteners that could put the health of their constituents, especially women and girls, at risk of mercury poisoning.

“To uphold the general welfare as stipulated under the Local Government Code, we appeal to concerned city officials, especially to newly-elected or re-elected mayors, to act with urgency to break the criminal sale of mercury-laced skin whitening products,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“As the Philippines develops its National Action Plan (NAP) for mercury-added products, we also urge our councilors to consider replicating the Quezon City Ordinance banning the production, importation, distribution, and sale of mercury-added skin whitening cosmetics in their area of responsibility,” he added.

Dizon emphasized that the requested action will not only promote the health and safety of citizens, but also prevent mercury in skin whitening cosmetics from being discharged into wastewater and consequently polluting the environment and the food chain.

The group aired its appeal for law enforcement action after conducting test buys from June 14 to 17 in seven bustling cities located at Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga de Norte. and Zamboanga del Sur.

The group managed to purchase 93 skin lightening creams costing P25 to P350 each from beauty and herbal product retailers mostly operating in public markets and shopping malls.  The  products, smuggled from China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan, have not undergone the required quality and safety assessment by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are therefore illegal to sell and unsafe to use.

The group screened the samples for mercury using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device.

Out of 93 samples, 75 items were found to be contaminated with mercury in the scale of 15 to 23,000 parts per million (ppm), way above the 1 ppm limit under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive as well as the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

All 11 samples of Goree Beauty Cream and Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream, which the FDA banned in 2017, had high concentrations of mercury ranging from 18,700 to 23,000 ppm.

Also found to contain violative levels of mercury, a chemical that is forbidden as ingredient in cosmetic product formulations, were Collagen Plus Vit E, Erna, Huayuenong, Jiaoli, La Widya,  S’Zitang, Women of Flower, and  Xinjiaoli whitening creams.  The FDA had already issued advisories against these products except for La Widya Collagen Day & Night Cream.

While negative for mercury, Aichun Beauty Cream Fresh White, Aichun Beauty Cream Repair White, La Widya Temulawak Day & Night Cream, SP Asli Special UV Whitening, SP UV Special Whitening & Anti-Acne, The Face New Mengandung Temulawak Day & Night Cream, and UV Whitening Extra Ginseng are unlawful to sell due to the lack of market authorization from the FDA.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that “the main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage.”

“Mercury in skin lightening products may also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections,” the WHO said.

“Other effects include anxiety, depression or psychosis and peripheral neuropathy,” it added.

-end-

Reference:

https://www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/mercury_flyer.pdf
http://www.chanrobles.com/localgov1.htm#.XRK4Wz8zbIU (see Section 16, General Welfare)

24 June 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Raises the Alarm over Dangerous Weapon Toys




A non-profit group promoting children’s access to non-toxic and safe toys has raised the alarm over the sale of cheap replicas of lethal weapons that may cause injuries among children, especially if played without adult supervision.

The EcoWaste Coalition sounded the alarm bell after buying toy weapons with sharp points and edges, including imitation “balisong” (fan knife), hunting knife and Naruto weapons such as “kunai” (dagger), “shuriken” (hand blade ) and “tanto” (sword). 

The group bought the weapon toys yesterday, June 23, from toy retailers and wholesalers at M. de Santos and Tabora Sts., Binondo, Manila outside the Divisoria Mall.  These are sold for P55 to P120 per pack of 20 or 30 pieces.

These weapon toys are often sold to children for P5 to P10 each by ambulant vendors or toy shops near public elementary schools and in some neighborhood sari-sari stores, the group said

While very affordable, the use of such toys could result to injuries requiring first aid treatment or medical attention and should therefore be kept out of children’s reach, the group pointed out.

“Toys with sharp points and edges are potentially dangerous as these could tear a child’s sensitive skin or cause injury to a child eyes,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Ninja weapon toys inspired by Naruto, a Japanese manga series, are attractive to young children who are fascinated by action heroes.  However, some of these toys have pointed parts and sharp edges that can harm an unsuspecting child or his playmates,” he added.

Aside from the accidental cuts, stabbing, and eye injuries, the EcoWaste Coalition is also concerned with the impact of such toys on the development of aggressive and violent behavior among children.

“For example, we find it totally inappropriate for young children to play with ‘balisong,' which is often used in street altercations and crimes,” Dizon said.

“We strongly suggest to both parents and kids to pick safe toys that do not invite aggression or violence such as toy weapons,” he emphasized. 

To keep children safe and to discourage aggressive and violent behaviors, the EcoWaste Coalition advises parents to consider these tips:

1. Carefully read product labels and shun toys lacking the required labeling requirements such as age grading, cautionary warnings and usage instructions.

2. Select age and developmentally-appropriate toys.

3. Shun toys with sharp edges or points, small parts, long strings, small and loosely attached batteries, and toxic components such as lead-containing paint.

4.  Read the instructional literature and teach your child how to safely play with purchased toys.

5.  Supervise children under your care when they engage in indoor or outdoor play.

The group also drew attention to the importance of choosing toys and childcare articles that are notified or registered with the Food and Drug Administration, which have undergone quality and safety verification procedures.

Next month, the EcoWaste Coalition will conduct test buys of toys being sold outside public elementary schools to check on toy industry compliance to the newly-promulgated Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act.

- end-

EcoWaste Coalition Promotes Water Saving Tips as Water Level in Angat Dam Nears Critical Level

As the water level in Angat Dam nears the 160 meter critical level, the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental protection group, renewed its call for all consumers to minimize the wastage of water and to practise water conservation .

“As the water level in Angat Dam continues to plummet, we appeal to all individual, household, institutional, commercial and industrial consumers to take further steps to avoid water waste,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We all need to curb our water waste and conserve this precious resource as many communities face water service interruptions,” she said.

“As we urge everyone to conserve water, we ask the National Water Resources Board and water concessionaires to ensure people’s access to water.  We request them to initiate extra measures to lessen the hardship of consumers as taps run dry in the coming days,” she added.

To prevent and reduce water wastage, the EcoWaste  Coalition urged water consumers to heed the following water saving  tips:

1.  Fix dripping tanks, pipes, faucets, showerheads and hoses to prevent water loss.

2.  Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, lathering with soap or shaving.

3. Take shorter showers with a pail and dipper and use just enough water.

4.  Reuse towels a few times before putting them on the laundry basket.

5.  Collect grey water from bathing and washing and reuse it to wash the car, clean the garage, maintain sidewalks or flush the toilet.

6.  Place a brick or water-filled bottle inside the toilet tank to reduce water used in every flush and flush less.

7. Collect water dripping from air conditioners and use the collected water for washing mops and rugs, flushing the toilet or watering the plants.

8.  Leave grass clippings on the lawn as this cools the ground and holds in moisture.

9. Spread a layer of mulch around plants and trees to retain water and reduce evaporation.

10. Water the plants early in the morning or in the evening when temperature is cooler to minimize water loss.

11.  Refrain from using the washing machine if only washing a few clothes, do full loads of laundry, and use just the right amount of detergent to avoid extra rinsing.

12. Wash fruits and vegetables in a basin and not in running water; reuse the water for watering the plants.

13. Save the rice wash for washing the dishes or watering plants.

14. Steam vegetables instead of boiling to conserve water as well as preserve their nutrients.

15. Thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator overnight, not on running water.

16. Use fewer cooking and dining utensils and dishes to reduce water use for washing.

17.  Choose the proper pan and pot size for cooking as bigger ones may need more cooking water than required.

18. Do not let the water run when washing the dishes, fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water.

19.  Soak dirty pans and pots first instead of scraping them in running water.

20.  Collect and store rainwater for daily chores.

-end-

19 June 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Warns against Toxic Crayons bought in Ozamiz City


A non-profit group tracking hazardous substances in products and wastes has warned consumers against the use of crayons contaminated with lead, a chemical that is dangerous even at low level of exposure, especially for growing children.

The EcoWaste Coalition issued its latest toxic alert after screening “Ultra Colours Crayons” for lead and other heavy metals using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device.

The group purchased two 16-piece crayon sets from a department store in Ozamiz City last Saturday for just P12.50.  As written on the label, the crayons were manufactured by Caloocan City-based Supreme Wax & Candle and supposedly "non-toxic.".

The group recalled that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017 had warned consumers against “Ultra Colours Jumbo Crayons” manufactured by Supreme Wax & Candle that were verified to contain lead.

For the “Ultra Colours Crayons” purchased by the EcoWaste Coalition, lead was detected in various colors from 126 to 13,700 part per million (ppm) in excess of the maximum allowable limit of not more than 90 ppm. 

Out of 32 crayon sticks, 10 were found to be laden with lead.  The yellow, pink, yellow green, and white crayons were found to contain 13,700, 5,556, 5,484 and 4,414 ppm of lead, respectively.

“Children’s products such as toys and school supplies should contain no lead as this chemical is known to harm children’s health even in small amounts,” stated Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“While lead-containing paint and dust are the most common sources of lead poisoning in children, lead-containing crayons and other lead-containing objects in the home and school environment may also expose children to lead posing serious health concerns,” he said.

The World Health Organization has confirmed “there is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe.”

According to the FDA, “lead produces a spectrum of injury across multiple body systems. In particular, lead affects children’s brain development resulting in reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioral changes such as reduced attention span and increased anti-social behavior, and reduced educational attainment.”

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

“Accordingly, to protect them from unnecessary hazards, parents, school teachers and guardians are strongly advised to strictly monitor the children especially when children are engaged in activities wherein adult supervision is required,” the FDA pointed out.

To protect children against lead exposure, the EcoWaste Coalition advised parents to discard lead-containing crayons and to pick safe toys and school supplies conforming to regulatory standards and requirements.

The group also urged the manufacturer to recall their non-compliant crayons, and for dealers and retailers to stop distributing such unsafe products.

-end-

Reference:

https://ww2.fda.gov.ph/attachments/article/458304/FDA%20Advisory%20No.%202017-260.pdf


14 June 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Thumbs Up Agreement to Ship Back Remaining 5,177 Tons of Illegal Waste Shipment to South Korea


Photos courtesy of EcoWaste Coalition

Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental/Quezon City.  The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental health and justice group, welcomed the agreement reached by the governments of the Philippines and South Korea toward the repatriation of 5,177 tons of illegal traffic waste originating from the latter.

At a bilateral meeting held yesterday in Tagoloan and chaired by Port Collector John Simon, government officials from the two countries agreed to return the waste, which is part of the illegal waste cargoes falsely declared as "plastic synthetic flakes" with a total combined weight of 6,500 tons, that arrived in Northern Mindanao in July and October 2018.   

The meeting drew over 40 attendees led by Representative Juliette Uy of the Second District of Misamis Oriental and included observers from the private sector and the civil society represented by the EcoWaste Coalition.

“We laud the firm stance of customs and environmental officials in the region to have the illegal traffic waste re-exported to its source in South Korea.  The Basel Convention imposes an obligation on the State of export to ensure the return of wastes deemed to constitute ‘illegal traffic’,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.  

As stated in the minutes of the meeting, “the government of the Philippines desires the re-exportation to be conducted in compliance to the order of President  Rodrigo Duterte to immediately remove foreign waste as soon as possible.”

“We also laud them for rejecting outright the proposal from the Korean side to landfill or incinerate the illegal traffic waste from South Korea in the Philippines,” she added.  

Under the Basel Convention, the obligation of the State of export to manage the illegal traffic waste “in an environmentally sound manner may not under any circumstances be transferred to the State of import or transit.”   

Leading the government panel in the said meeting were Representative Juliette Uy, Provincial Board Member Gerardo Sabal III, District Collector Floro Calixihan Jr., Port Collector John Simon and EMB-Region 10 legal chief Abbas Lao.

During the meeting the Korean government led by Mr. Young –Dae Jung, Director General of the Ministry of Environment, offered three options for dealing with the wastes. 

As cited in the minutes, these options are: “1) retrieving the waste back to Korea with the precondition that the Philippines covers all costs concerning repacking, containerizing, transporting the waste to the port, and clearing the customs; 2) establishing an incineration facility by Korea in the Philippines; and 3) landfilling or incinerating the waste within the Philippines first, then after that paying the treatment cost.”

Because this incident was caused by an illegal exporter in South Korea and an illegal importer in the Philippines, both governments agreed to share responsibility in addressing the matter.  

The Philippine government agreed to “bear the whole responsibilities concerning the repacking, containerizing, transporting the waste from the importer’s premises to the port, and clearing the customs, including demurrage charges at the Philippine port.”

The South Korean government agreed to “start the shipping procedure from the port of Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental to Korea as soon as possible.”

“Both parties understood that in Korea it might take some time to secure and allocate the budget for shipping,” according to the minutes.

To recall, the bulk wastes, which the authorities determined as “misdeclared, heterogenous and injurious to public health,” have been sitting at the premises of Verde Soko Philippines Industrial Corp., the consignee, inside the PHIVIDEC Industrial Estate in Sitio Buguac, Barangay Santa Cruz,  Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental since July 2018.  

According to the re-exportation order issued by the Bureau of Customs-Region 10 last December 2018, “the shipment was found to be heterogenous and contained household hazardous waste constituting a violation under DENR Administrative Order 2013-22.”  As per this regulation, “no importation of heterogenous and unsorted plastic materials shall be allowed.  

The first batch of the illegal waste shipment consisting of nearly 1,400 tons of containerized wastes was re-exported to South Korea on January 13 this year. 

-end-

09 June 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Cautions against Use of Wet Wipes with Harmful Ingredients




Baby wipes with MCI/MIT, which is banned in leave-on cosmetic products such as wet wipes.

A non-profit organization promoting children’s and environmental health has called the attention of regulators and consumers against the sale, use and disposal of wet wipes containing harmful ingredients.

In a press statement issued today, the EcoWaste Coalition alerted the government and the general public, especially parents and child carers, about the abundance in the market of cheap pre-moistened wet wipes with banned preservatives and biocides.


In letters sent to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the group reported the widespread sale in Divisoria, Manila of baby wipes containing the combination preservatives methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone (MCI/MIT), which are chemical compounds that can trigger allergic contact dermatitis (ACD).

As per FDA Advisory No. 2017-006, which was reiterated through FDA Advisory No. 2018-034, methylisothiazolinone is “prohibited in leave-on products.” 

As per the European Union (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.”


“We are concerned that wet wipes containing MCI/MIT, including some products that bear Cosmetic Notification No., are still sold in the market. The continued sale of these supposedly hygiene products is disturbing as these preservatives on leave-on products is a common cause of ACD causing skin rash or lesion and other signs and symptoms,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Dong Bang, Dong Bang Yao Baby Tender, Family Treasure Baby Tender, Sky Fire Baby Tender, and Giggley Baby Wipes, which are sold for P20-P25 per pack, listed MCI/MIT among their ingredients.
The group also reported finding “Super Soft Skin Care Wet Towel,” sold for P19/pack, which contains iodopropynyl butylcarbamate or IPBC that is “banned in products intended for children under 3 years of age” in the EU.  IPBC belongs to the carbamate family of biocides.

“While the product we found is not called ‘Baby Wipes,’ its packaging contains an image of a baby, plus a ‘Triple Baby Protection’ mark, which may entice consumers to use it to clean baby’s face, hands, bottom, and genital,” said Dizon.

Product alerts issued by European governments state that “IPBC may penetrate the skin of the infant and may have an adverse effect on the function of the thyroid gland.”


To protect young consumers against ACD and other health problems due to skin exposure to MCI/MIT and IPBC, the EcoWaste Coalition requested the FDA to issue the necessary public health warnings and to cause the removal of non-compliant products from store shelves nationwide.

“Consumers should carefully read the product labels, avoid wipes containing MCI/MIT and IPBC and shun those that have not been assessed by health authorities for their quality and safety,” the group emphasized.


The group also advised consumers not to flush used wet wipes or throw them on streets or canals as these may clog the drainage and sewer systems, block anti-flood pumping stations, damage wastewater pumps, and add to the plastic pollution of water bodies and the oceans.

-end-


Reference:
https://ww2.fda.gov.ph/attachments/article/453569/FDA%20Circular%20No.2017-006-1.pdf

07 June 2019

BOC Pressed: Tell the People Where the Canadian Wastes in 8 Containers Went



Photo Courtesy of Metro Clark Waste Management Corp.


A week after the illegal Canadian garbage shipment left the country, a waste and pollution watchdog pressed the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to disclose how the other seized cargoes were disposed of.

“BOC  has to tell the people where the Canadian wastes in eight container vans went, noting that only 26 were landfilled in Kalangitan, Capas, Tarlac,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Full disclosure is important to clear the air as we pursue a complete ban on foreign waste importation and disposal to protect the public health and the environment from the negative effects of the global waste trade," she said.

The group raised the matter to the BOC through an e-mail sent last April 30.  In his response, BOC Spokesperson Erastus Sandino Austria confirmed that out of the 103 shipping containers of Canadian garbage, 34 were locally disposed of. The remaining 69 containers were shipped back to Canada on May 31 on board MV Bavaria.

On May 15, the EcoWaste Coalition filed an online Freedom of Information request to press the BOC to divulge information pertaining to the local disposal of the 8 containers, which the group also forwarded to Austria. 

Austria then referred the matter to the “BOC-focal person on the Canada Wastes matter thru the Inter-agency Committee Secretariat of the Bureau of Customs for their appropriate action.”

“Rest assured that the matter is being looked into and verified with concerned offices,” wrote Customs Operations Officer Genilyn Minardo in response to the forwarded message by Austria from the EcoWaste Coalition.

The slowness in getting the requested information, which should be readily available in the BOC database, is making environmental advocates more curious as to how and where the wastes in eight containers were disposed of.

“Were the mixed plastic wastes incinerated or used as fuels in cement kilns.  We are concerned as the burning of unsorted wastes, especially those containing chlorinated and hazardous materials, can produce harmful environmental pollutants such as dioxins,” said Sonia Mendoza, Chairman, Mother Earth Foundation.

“Were the wastes buried in any of the landfills in Luzon, particularly in Bulacan, Rizal and in Navotas?  If the wastes were landfilled, did the concerned local government unit approve of it or were they even notified?,”  asked Noli Abinales, Founder, Buklod Tao.  

According to the website of the Metro Clark Waste Management Corp., wastes from the 26 containers shipped by Canadian firm Chronic Plastic Inc. were disposed of in their landfill facility in Tarlac.

In reaction to the dumping of Canadian garbage, the Tarlac Provincial Board adopted Resolution No. 057-2015 banning the dumping of any garbage from overseas at the Kalangitan landfill and anywhere in Tarlac.


-end-

06 June 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Warns Against Artificial Nail Sets with Toxic Glue



The EcoWaste Coalition today exposed the illegal sale of cheap artificial nail sets with accompanying adhesive that contains a substance banned in cosmetic products.

This exposé came on the heels of the group’s latest test buy in Divisoria, Manila that netted unlabeled and unregistered false fingernail products with matching glue containing dibutyl phthalate (DBP)as shown on the label.  

Through a letter sent to the Food and Drug Administration – Center for Cosmetic Regulation and Research (FDA-CCRR), the group reported the sale of artificial nail sets bearing the names “Beauty Nail,” “Don,” “Nail Salons,” “Nail Style,” and “Splendid Nails,” and costing P12.50 to P50 per set.  The items were procured on June 5, 2019 from retailers located at 11/88 Shopping Mall and Lucky Chinatown Shopping Mall.

“The adhesive that is used to attach the artificial nail to the real one contains DBP, a chemical that has been linked to endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive disorders, and even cancer,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We advise consumers, especially girls and women, to shun such products that can expose them to potential harm,” he added.

DBP is not allowed as ingredient in cosmetics under the European Cosmetics Directive, as well as in the  ASEAN Cosmetics Directive where is it listed among the substances that “must not form part of the composition of cosmetic products,” Dizon noted.

The FDA in 2015 issued an advisory on unnotified DBP-containing adhesive, saying that “DBP has the ability to cause allergic reactions” and warning that “there were previous cases where allergic response to DBP was found to be severe.”

“Allergic reactions can induce a state of hypersensitivity in the immune system. It can cause the immune system to respond to chemical exposures with immunological reactions that are harmful, varying from hives to life-threatening responses such as anaphylactic shock, where low blood pressure and breathing difficulties can result in death,” the FDA further warned.

DBP is listed by the EU as an endocrine-disrupting compound of high concern.  According to studies, DBP has been shown to cause proliferation of breast tumor cells and to make anti-estrogen treatments less effective against tumors.

To prevent further distribution and sale of this dangerous product, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the FDA to:

1.  Conduct post-market surveillance targeting artificial nail sets that lack the required product notification.

2.  Issue a public health warning against unnotified nail adhesive containing DBP.

3.  Initiate law enforcement action, including seizure of non-compliant products, in coordination with local government, health and police authorities.

The group also reminded consumers to patronize nail products with proper FDA Certificate of Product Notification and marketed by licensed manufacturer, importer or distributor.

-end-

Reference:

http://www.fda.gov.ph/attachments/article/226625/FDA%20Advisory%20No.%202015-006.pdf
http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/phthalates/

04 June 2019

Group Bares Illegal Sale in CdO of Health-Damaging Skin Whitening Creams Containing Mercury


Quezon City/Cagayan de Oro City.  A Quezon City-based environmental and health organization urged Cagayan de Oro  (CdO) local government, health and police authorities to crack down on the unlawful sale of skin whitening products laden with mercury, a highly toxic chemical, in the city's thriving cosmetics market.

Visiting representatives of the EcoWaste Coalition told a press briefing held today in CdO that imported skin lightening creams banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are openly sold by retailers at the Angel Chavez Complex, Cogon Market, and Agora Market in brazen violation of the agency’s order not to sell such mercury-tainted products.

“To our disbelief and dismay, FDA-banned skin whitening cosmetics are sold over the counter in CdO as if these products are legal to sell and safe to use.  Health experts have repeatedly warned that mercury-containing skin whiteners are hazardous to health,” stated Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

The EcoWaste Coalition has been campaigning against mercury-added skin whitening products since 2011.  A foreign-produced documentary entitled "The Terrifying Truth About Skin Bleaching Products" featuring Dizon and the group's work was recently released on YouTube garnering over one million views to date (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYTIh2cXfvM).  

“To protect the public against mercury exposure and to prevent mercury contamination of the environment, we request the city government to stop the sale of these poison cosmetics,” he added.

“We also request the newly-elected City Council to adopt an ordinance that will ban and penalize the manufacture, importation, distribution and sale of mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics like what the Quezon City Council did last year,” he suggested.

Test buys conducted by the group on June 2, 2019 netted 33 banned items representing 7 brands such as Collagen Plus Vit E, Erna, Goree, JJJ, Jiaoli, S’Zitang and Xinjiaoli.  The group bought the items from 12 retail stores for P40 to P300 each.

"We are particularly worried with the proliferation of Goree whitening products in CdO, which the FDA banned in 2017.  After the side effects of using this smuggled cosmetic from Pakistan became highly publicized last year, we notice a drop in the open sale of Goree in Divisoria, Manila.  However, it appears that CdO is flooded with this dangerous skin whitener," said Dizon. 

Chemical screening using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device detected mercury in all the analyzed items in the range of 125 to 22,700 parts per million (ppm), way above the maximum allowable limit of 1 ppm.

This is not the first time that the EcoWaste Coalition discovered and exposed the illegal trade of mercury-containing skin whitening products in CdO.  As part of the group’s advocacy against mercury pollution, the group did similar test buys in November 2014, December 2018, and January 2019.

Mercury is not allowed as ingredient in cosmetic products under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive, the group emphasized.  Also, a global phase-out of skin whitening products with mercury above 1 ppm is targeted by 2020 under the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

According to both the FDA and the World Health Organization (WHO), the “adverse health effects brought about by highly toxic mercury in cosmetics products include kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring.”

“Chronic use reduces the skin’s normal resistance against bacterial and fungal infections,” the FDA and WHO said.

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

Symptoms of mercury exposure include depression, drowsiness, exhaustion, hair loss, inflamed gums; irritability, memory loss, nervousness, rash, sleeplessness, tingling of the extremities, tremors, and weakness.

To prevent mercury exposure, the EcoWaste Coalition urged consumers to take the following advice to heart:

1.  Avoid products that have not undergone quality and safety verification by the FDA.
2.  Avoid products that the FDA has already banned due to their mercury content. 
3.  Avoid products that lack adequate and understandable labeling information.
4.  Avoid products that do not provide information about their ingredients.
5.  Avoid products that are sold by unauthorized dealers or stores.

-end-

Reference:

https://ww2.fda.gov.ph/index.php/advisories-2/cosmetic-2/509771-fda-advisory-no-2018-183
https://www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/mercury_flyer.pdf
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jcPqalvlWwr6cTGraJ9fC5jjqr7H_8vI/view

03 June 2019

EcoWaste Coalition: Mindanao, PH Not a Global Trash Bin


Quezon City/Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.  The EcoWaste Coalition and its partner groups in Mindanao lambasted the entry of illegal waste shipments in the region’s ports as “totally unacceptable.”

At the send-off ceremonies for the seized mixed plastic waste shipment from Hong Kong, China, the groups asserted that “Mindanao is not a garbage bin.”  To signify their strong opposition against foreign waste dumping, the 30-member NGO delegation brandished a banner reading “PH: We are not the world’s dumpsite.”

The repatriation of the botched waste export from Hong Kong came on the heels of the long overdue departure last Friday of 69 container vans of Canadian garbage after languishing in the Philippines for six years. 

This morning, Port Collector John Simon of the Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT) officiated the re-export to Hong Kong of 25,610 kilograms of mixed plastic waste packed in 22 sling bags that were wrongly declared as “assorted electronic accessories.”  The illegal traffic waste will be returned to Hong Kong via the container ship SITC Nagoya.

The re-export of the said illegal waste shipment to its source was witnessed by the representatives of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) Region 10, Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Region 10, and civil society groups led by the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Today, we are shipping back one container van of mixed garbage consisting mostly of plastic scraps and shredded electronic parts to their source.  The export of this hazardous waste from Hong Kong in the guise of ‘assorted electronic accessories’ is illegal under the laws of Hong Kong and the Philippines and the Basel Convention,” stated Simon.

“In line with the mission of the BOC to strengthen efforts against smuggling and other customs fraud, we are returning this unlawful shipment to protect our nation’s health and the environment,” he added.

“We find it very disturbing that illegal waste cargoes are entering the country through the region’s ports.  This alarming trend is totally unacceptable and should discontinue as soon as possible.  Mindanao is not a garbage bin,” said Atty. Mark Petalver, Program Coordinator, Interface Development Interventions, Inc. (IDIS), a Davao City-based environmental NGO.

“By quickly returning the illegal waste shipment and skipping bureaucratic delay, our nation is sending a clear and unambiguous warning to waste traffickers to stop sending other countries’ wastes into our ports,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “We heaved a sigh of relief as the entry of some 70 containers of similar trash was aborted with the seizure of this test cargo.”

“The strong presence of local civil society groups in this important event indicates a growing concern among Mindanaoans against the use of the region’s ports as entry points for waste imports from overseas.  We encourage them, the local authorities and the general public to keep a close watch over illegal waste traffic in the region,” she added.

To protect Mindanao and the entire country from turning into a global dumping ground, the EcoWaste Coalition renewed its call for a comprehensive and immediate ban on waste imports and for the rapid ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment.

The Basel Ban Amendment, which has yet to enter into force, aims to prohibit the export of hazardous wastes and other wastes from developed to developing countries for any reason, including recycling. From the list of eligible countries, including the Philippines, only two more country ratifications are needed for the amendment to enter into force.

To recall, the misdeclared mixed plastic waste shipment arrived at the MCT on January 2, 2019 from Hong Kong on board SITC Fujian. It was exported by Hin Yuen Tech. Env.  Limited, consigned to Crowd Win Industrial Limited Corp., and was brokered by Yolanda Mondragon Narandan.

BOC Region 10 issued an alert order on February 18, 2019 followed by a warrant of seizure and detention on March 5, 2019  against the said shipment citing violation of Section 1400 (misdeclaration) in relation to Section 117 (lack of permit) of Republic Act 10863, or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

Aside from the EcoWaste Coalition and IDIS, the other groups present at the send-off rites were Agro-Eco Philippines, Bantay Bukid, Bantayo Aweg, Ecoteneo, Mindanao Youth Development Center Inc., No Burn Pilipinas, Student Organization of Marine Engineering, Sustainable Davao Movement, United States Government Alumni Association Davao, and the YSEALI Davao Hub.

-end-

Quick Case Highlights: Illegal Waste Shipment from Hong Kong
Prepared by the EcoWaste Coalition 

1.  On January 2, 2019, a shipment sent by exporter Hin Yuen Tech. Env. Limited arrived at the Mindanao Container Terminal in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.

2.  The shipment was consigned to Crowd Win Industrial Limited Corporation based in Pasay City and was brokered by Yolanda Mondragon Narandan of Cagayan de Oro City.

3.  Reporter Jigger Jerusalem checked the given address of Narandan and discovered that an eatery has occupied said place instead of a customs broker’s office.  The EcoWaste Coalition also checked the address provided by Crowd Win in Pasay City and was told by the CTC Building Administration that the firm vacated its rented unit last December 2018.

4.  The shipment, consisting of one 40 foot container containing 22 sling bags weighing 25,610 kilograms, was declared as “assorted electronic accessories.”

5.  Bureau of Customs Region 10 issued Alert Order No. CD0-01-2019 on February 18, 2019 for “misdeclaration.”

6.  Upon examination by customs officials on February 19, 2019, the shipment was found to contain “mixed plastic waste.”

7.  BOC Region 10 issued a Warrant of Seizure and Detention on March 5, 2019 for “violation of Section  Section 1400 (misdeclaration) in relation to Section 117 (lack of import permit) of RA 10863” or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.

8.  An inspection on the said shipment on May 22, 2017 in the presence of Port Collector John Simon and other customs officials, GMA7, and the EcoWaste Coalition found plastic scraps and shredded electronic parts.

9.  According to Port Collector John Simon, the shipment was a “test cargo.”  Had the Bureau of Customs Region 10 gave its permission, some 70 more containers loaded with the same cargo were to be shipped through the Mindanao Container Terminal sub-port.

10.  “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region commits to combating illegal transboundary movement of waste. Our laws do not allow exporting waste to overseas for dumping” (statement from the Hong Kong’s Environment Bureau and the Environmental Protection Department as reported by CNN Philippines).

11.  On June 3, 2019, the Hong Kong waste shipment will be sent back to its origin via container ship SITC Nagoya.