31 July 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Lauds Phase-Out Plan for Mercury-Added Products, Calls for Speedy Ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury

The waste and pollution watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition has lauded the government-led collaborative process  resulting to the adoption of a national action plan (NAP) that will help the country in meeting the global phase-out target by 2020 for specific mercury-added products (MAPs).

“While the Philippines has yet to ratify the Minamata Convention on Mercury, concrete projects and activities are already being implemented  to protect public health and the environment from the adverse impacts of mercury pollution,” noted Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The meaningful efforts of the government, supported by UN agencies and civil society organizations, should encourage President Rodrigo Duterte into ratifying the convention without further ado and subsequently obtaining Senate  concurrence, hopefully before the third Conference of the Parties this coming November,” he said.

Dizon specifically cited the project promoting the ratification and implementation of the mercury treaty funded by the Swiss government and jointly carried out by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the United Nations Industrial and Development Organization (UNIDO). 

Resulting from this project was the “NAP for the Phase-Out of MAPs and the Management of the Associated Mercury-Containing Wastes“ that was formally turned over to the government at a ceremony held yesterday, June 30, in Mandaluyong City.

“As a civil society participant to the process of developing the country’s NAP, we commit to raising awareness about the hazards of mercury-added products, the benefits of switching to mercury-free alternatives, and the need to manage mercury-containing wastes in a way that will not cause further harm to people’s health and the environment,” Dizon said.

"We also intend to keep an eye on how the NAP will be implemented through the technical working group under the Inter-Agency Committee on Environmental Health," he added.  

Dizon cited the group’s efforts to promote action against the illegal trade of mercury-contaminated skin whitening cosmetics through product test buys, online store monitoring, public information, and engagement with national and local authorities.

“This year alone from January to July, we conducted product test buys in 20 cities located in Regions 3, 4-A, 9, 10, Cordillera Administrative Region and the National Capital Region that netted 162 mercury-laden skin whitening facial creams illegally imported from China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Pakistan,” he said.  As a result, the Baguio City Council, for example, is deliberating the enactment of an ordinance banning the manufacture, distribution and sale of mercury-containing skin lightening cosmetics in the city.  

Dizon also cited the group’s push for the operationalization of the recycling facility with mercury recovery for busted or spent fluorescent lamps that has been idle for almost five years.

“We laud the DENR-UNIDO project for developing an initial work plan for the re-commissioning and eventual operation of the mercury lamp waste recycling facility.  We are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. 

The Minamata Convention on Mercury, which the Philippines signed in 2013, targets the phase-out by 2020 of certain MAPs as listed in Annex A of the treaty.

Products whose manufacture, import and export are to be phased out by 2020 include batteries (except for button zinc silver oxide batteries with a mercury content < 2 percent, button zinc air batteries with a mercury content < 2 percent); most switches and relays; CFL bulbs equal to or less than 30 watts containing more than 5 mg mercury per bulb; linear fluorescent bulbs - triband lamps less than 60 watts and containing greater than 5 mg mercury and halophosphate lamps less than 40 watts and containing greater than 10 mg mercury; high pressure mercury vapor lamps; mercury in a variety of cold cathode fluorescent lamps and external electrode fluorescent lamps.  

Also targeted for phase-out by 2020 are cosmetics including skin lightening products with mercury above 1 ppm (except mascara and other eye area cosmetics); pesticides, biocides, and topic antiseptics; and non-electronic devices such as barometers, hygrometers, manometers, thermometers, and sphygmomanometers.  





30 July 2019

Caloocan Barangay Gears Up for Safe E-Waste Management

Officials of the country’s largest barangay, Bagong Silang in Caloocan City, met with purok leaders to build community awareness and support for a pioneering e-waste facility toward the safe management of discarded electronics.

Last week, on July 24 and 25, over 100 community leaders of Barangay 176 assembled at the multi-purpose hall to get themselves informed about the government-led “Safe PCB and E-Waste Management Project” that seeks, among other goals,  the environmentally-sound management of toxic polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in cathode ray tube (CRT) television sets.

The establishment of the e-waste facility is an integral part of the project funded by the Global Environment Facility with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as the project implementing agency and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) as the lead executing agency.   

Led by Chairman Joel S. Bacolod, Barangay Bagong Silang has agreed to host the e-waste facility to promote and protect the health of residents, numbering around 315,000, from unsafe recycling and disposal practices of discarded electronics.

At the forum, Dante Lista, Chief of Barangay 176 Environmental Management and Protection Office, explained that the e-waste facility to be set up will provide concrete benefits for the people of Bagong Silang.

“This project will have at least triple benefits for our barangay.  First is the health benefit, particularly for e-waste dismantlers, due to reduced occupational exposure to hazardous substances in e-waste.  Second is the environmental benefit  resulting from the safe-management of e-waste.  And third is the livelihood benefit for the informal recyclers who will be subsequently trained and employed,” he said.

Staff of the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental health organization, spoke at the forum about the hazards of improper e-waste handling, recycling and disposal, as well as the need for improved e-waste management practices to protect workers’ health and the environment.

Trained personnel coming from the ranks of Caloocan-based e-waste workers will help in managing the collected TVs before these are transferred for proper dismantling and recycling at a plant in Calamba, Laguna.

Organized  e-waste recyclers in the city had earlier expressed their hope for a decent and safe recycling-based livelihood with the operation of the said facility in Bagong Silang.

According to the report “A New Circular Vision for Electronics: Time for a Global Reboot," “less than 20 percent of e-waste is formally recycled, with 80 percent either ending up in landfill or being informally recycled – much of it by hand in developing countries, exposing workers to hazardous and carcinogenic substances such as mercury, lead and cadmium.”

Released in January 2019, the report published by the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) and the UN E-Waste Coalition, which includes UNIDO, said that “e-waste can be toxic, is not biodegradable and accumulates in the environment, in the soil, air, water and living things.”

The report proposes collaborative efforts involving various sectors “to create a circular economy for electronics where waste is designed out, the environmental impact is reduced, and decent work is created for millions.”




29 July 2019

Group Finds More Toxic Imitation Lipsticks in the Market

Women beware:  those imitation lipsticks that you are using to get that luscious red pout may contain toxic impurities that can eventually damage your health.

As the National Lipstick Day is observed today, July 29, with special promos and sales, the EcoWaste Coalition cautioned lipstick lovers against picking and using products, especially imitation ones, which may be contaminated with lead.

“Although forbidden as ingredient in cosmetic products, we find some lipsticks, particularly those without market authorization, contaminated with high levels of lead,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We also find it worrisome that lead-containing lipsticks are often contaminated with other toxic metals such as arsenic, cadmium and mercury above the allowable trace limits set by the ASEAN and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” Dizon emphasized.  

According to the ASEAN Guidelines on Limits of Contaminants for Cosmetics, lead cannot be deliberately added into cosmetic product formulations.  For lead in cosmetics, the trace amount limit is not more than 20 parts per million (ppm).

Dizon bewailed the unethical and unlawful sale of lipsticks that are cheap, but loaded with lead way above the regulatory limit.  

Out of 75 lipsticks that the group bought from retail shops last July 26 and 27 for P16 to P50 each, 26 were found loaded with lead.  The items were purchased from retailers in Divisoria, Paco and Quiapo, Manila, and in Pasay City.

Using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF), the group managed to detect atrocious levels of lead in the range of 112 ppm to dangerously high 44,400 ppm.

Among the 12 adulterated and counterfeit items with highest lead content based on the screening conducted by the group were:

1.  Kylie Lipstick #02,   44,400 ppm
2.  Qianxiu It’s Moisturizing Matte Lipstick #06, 42,800 ppm
3.  MAC Mariah Carey Lipstick #02, 36,800 ppm
4.  Qianxiu Hello Kitty Lipstick #06, 34,800 ppm
5.  Qianxiu Lipstick #06, 28,200 ppm
6.  Naked Love Lisptick #09, 25,800 ppm
7.  MAC Zacposen Rudy Woo Lipstick #12, 10,600 ppm
8.  Naked 9 Qianxiu Lipstick #07, 8,960 ppm
9.  MAC Zacposen So Chaud Lipstick #04, 7,987 ppm
10. Koko Kollection Lipstick #02,4,888 ppm
11. MAC Zacposen Girl About Town Lipstick #08, 4,522 ppm 
12.Revlon Gossip Gurl Lipstick #12, 2,371 ppm

“The lead contaminant in these lipsticks may be due to the use of impure and low quality raw materials and the poor manufacturing processes,” Dizon explained.

“While it is most detrimental to young children’s health, especially to their developing brains, lead exposure in adults can be damaging, too, as it can damage the kidneys and increase the risk of high blood pressure,” he added.

According to the US-based Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, “a chemical like lead builds up in the body over time so low exposures repeated daily can add up to a significant exposure.” 

“Exposure of pregnant women to high levels of lead can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight,” warned the World Health Organization (WHO) which has listed lead among the “ten chemicals of major public health concern.”

To protect consumer health, the EcoWaste Coalition called on the FDA to issue an urgent public health advisory and to initiate law enforcement action to stop the sale of toxic lipsticks and other unsafe cosmetics such as skin whitening creams laden with mercury.




28 July 2019

FDA-Banned Mercury-Containing Skin Whitening Products Sold at Tutuban Central Mall

An environmental and health watchdog group has cautioned consumers against buying skin whitening products that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had already banned way back in 2017 for containing mercury, a highly toxic chemical.

The EcoWaste Coalition issued its latest product alert after finding yesterday imported Goree and Collagen Plus Vit E skin whitening products openly sold in at least six beauty and herbal kiosks located at the ground floor of Tutuban Center Mall in Tondo, Manila.

“Consumers should heed FDA’s public health advisories and not waste their money buying these poisonous skin whitening products.  Repeated application of such cosmetics may result in chronic exposure to mercury and cause damage to the brain and the central nervous system, the kidneys and the skin itself,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“As mercury can cross the placental barrier, we strongly advise pregnant women not to use mercury-contaminated products to protect themselves and the babies in the womb against this toxic substance,”  he pointed out.

The FDA through Advisory 2017-289 banned Goree Beauty Cream and Goree Day & Night Beauty Cream from Pakistan for containing toxic mercury levels beyond the one part per million (ppm) maximum limit under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive. 

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. Chronic use reduces the skin’s normal resistance against bacterial and fungal infections. Other effects 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,” it further warned. 

Among the 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.

Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream is among the 85 unnotified cosmetics cited in FDA Advisory 2017-314.  According to the FDA, “potential hazards may come from ingredients that are not allowed to be part of a cosmetic product or from the contamination of heavy metals such as mercury especially in whitening cosmetic products." 

Chemical screening conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition indicated high concentrations of mercury up to over 20,000 ppm in Goree products, while mercury in samples of Collagen Plus Vit E had more than 10,000 ppm.

To protect public health and the environment, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the city government to prioritize the enactment of an ordinance banning and penalizing the manufacture, importation, distribution and sale of mercury-containing cosmetics such as skin whitening creams and soaps.

The group also suggested that mall management should monitor and control products being sold by their tenants to ensure that adulterated, banned and counterfeit products are not offered for sale in their premises.

“The full cooperation of all stakeholders, including national and local governments, industries, commercial establishments, consumers, civil society and the media, is essential to rid the market of skin whitening cosmetics laden with mercury in line with the country’s National Action Plan for the Phase-Out of Mercury-Added Products,” Dizon said.

“We will continue to raise public awareness and alertness on mercury-added products and the risks associated with mercury exposure, especially among the vulnerable groups such as children, women of child-bearing age and the workers, and support the country's ratification and implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury ” he added.


https://ww2.fda.gov.ph/index.php/advisories-2/cosmetic-2/472052-fda-advisory-no-2017-289  (see #2 and #3)
https://ww2.fda.gov.ph/index.php/advisories-2/cosmetic-2/475039-fda-advisory-no-2017-314  (see #38)

24 July 2019

Group Applauds Bishops for Taking Action vs. Single-Use Plastics

An advocacy group for a Zero Waste and toxics-free society has lauded Catholic bishops for taking a collective stance versus single-use plastics, which have become a bane for the global environment.

“We welcome the unequivocal statement issued by our bishops toward the elimination of single-use plastics.  This should persuade the faithful into shifting to eco-friendly products and packaging materials that are reusable and recyclable,” stated Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We hope all dioceses, parishes and Catholic-run institutions such as schools, hospitals, convents, seminaries and churches will institute or strengthen policies and regulations that will eliminate the consumption, use and disposal of single use plastics, including plastic bags, plastic drinking straws, plastic plates and cutlery, and even plastic banderitas in their premises and activities,” he said.  

“We likewise hope the private sector, especially the big corporations, will heed the signs of the times and do their part to address the global plastic pollution crisis by seriously cutting packaging and plastic waste,” he added.  

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) last July 16 issued an urgent call for ecological conversion, which listed a number of concrete actions to be undertaken in line with the spirit and principles of the landmark encyclical on ecology by Pope Francis entitled “Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home.”

Among the “concrete ecological actions” being promoted by the bishops for the consideration of the dioceses, parishes and the faithful is the elimination of single-use plastics.

The EcoWaste Coalition specifically cited Bishops Ruperto Santos of Balanga, Alberto Uy of Balanga and Reynaldo Evangelista of Imus for their recent pronouncements and actions to curb the use of single-use plastics in their respective dioceses.

As reported in the CBCP News, Bishop Santos and the clergy have adopted Balanga City’s directive restricting single-use plastics.  “In our cathedral, we go green. We discourage the use of plastic flowers and decors, but natural plants and flowers. We also set aside tarpaulins,” he said.  Parish priests in the diocese have agreed “to go for green environment.”

Bishop Uy told priests and parishioners over Radio Veritas to “please avoid the use of Styros and plastics in any of our gatherings and activities.”  He said “it is important for us to unite in taking care of our environment,” stressing “if every citizen will do his share in helping preserve the environment, we will all live in a clean and safe community that is pollution-free and plastic-free.”

Bishop Evangelista has announced the move by the Diocese of Imus to transform itself into a “zero waste church.”  Included in the 10-point policies to be carried out in all parishes and institutions are the ban on plastic banderitas for church occasions and feasts, and the ban on disposable, single-use plates, glasses, spoons, forks and the like in church activities and fellowships.

The said “zero waste church” initiative has attracted jubilation and support from both the Cavite Green Coalition and the EcoWaste Coalition, which counts on the Diocese of Imus Ministry of Ecology among its members.



23 July 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Urges LGUs to Heed PRRD’s Directive on Environmental Protection

Local government units (LGUs) who continue to lag behind in enforcing the country’s environmental laws should rise from their slumber and protect Mother Earth from further degradation.

Echoing President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s directive at his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA), the environmental watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition appealed to LGUs nationwide to energetically enforce laws that seek to protect public health and the environment such as Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

As he cited the government-led efforts to rehabilitate the famed Boracay Island and Manila Bay, Duterte said he was “giving due notice to the LGUs and other stakeholders to take extra steps in the enforcement of our laws and the protection of our environment.”

“We urge our LGUs to heed the presidential directive to reverse the continuing degradation of our environment due to blatant disrespect for our environmental laws and regulations,” said Aileen Lucero,National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.  

“While we commend some LGUs for implementing waste prevention and reduction programs, RA 9003 remains ineffectively enforced in many localities as illegal dumping persists and as single-use plastics continue to cause chemical and waste pollution beyond our borders,” she noted.

As the plastic pollution crisis takes center stage, the EcoWaste Coalition thought that Duterte should have asked the 18th Congress to legislate a robust ban on single-use plastics to complement the active enforcement of RA 9003.

“Instead of enforcing RA 9003, we find it very disturbing that waste-to-energy incineration (WtE) projects are aggressively being promoted as ‘solution’ to our country’s garbage woes,” Lucero said.

“National and local governments should better focus on waste prevention and reduction strategies and programs such as product redesign, segregation at source, reuse, recycling, composting and their associated green enterprises for the poor,” she suggested.

The EcoWaste Coalition also thought that the president should have used the SONA as a platform to assure the nation that foreign waste dumping will be a thing of the past.

“To assure the people that no foreign waste dumping will happen again, the president should have reiterated his verbal order to bar waste imports and announced his intent to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, which aims to prohibit the transfer of hazardous wastes and other wastes from developed to developing countries for any reason, including recycling,” Lucero said.

“While customs authorities had re-exported this year  69 container vans of dumped wastes from Canada, 51 from South Korea and one from Hong Kong, there are still thousands of tons of wastes from Australia and South Korea waiting to be returned to their origin,”  she reminded.


21 July 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Commends Angeles City LGU for Swift Action vs. Mercury-Laden Cosmetics

The environmental and health watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition lauded the Angeles City government for its swift response to the report filed by the group divulging the unlawful sale of mercury-contaminated skin whitening products in the city.

In response to the report sent by the group to Mayor Carmelo “Pogi” Lazatin last July 15, the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) undertook immediate law enforcement action resulting to the seizure of cosmetics banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to their high mercury content.

In a report to Mayor Lazatin, CENRO officer in charge Archimedes Lazatin reported the confiscation of  11 pieces of Goree and 83 pieces of Jiaoli skin whitening products from Luigi’s Health Beauty Kiosk and Meisy David Cosmetics, respectively.  The CENRO Special Task Force Unit also recommended the closure of these retail outlets.

“We laud Mayor Lazatin and the CENRO for taking immediate action, and we hope other local government units will follow the good example set by Angeles City.   The seizure of mercury contaminated products and their proper storage and disposal will safeguard consumer health and prevent mercury pollution of the environment,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“People who have consumed skin whitening cosmetics laced with mercury, which can cause damage to the skin, kidneys, the brain and the central nervous system,  should discontinue further use of such products and see a licensed dermatologist for medical evaluation,” he suggested.

Mercury, a highly toxic chemical,  is not allowed as ingredient in cosmetic product formulations as per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive, which has also set a maximum allowable limit of one part per million (ppm) for mercury as contaminant in cosmetics.  

To protect public health and the environment, the Philippine government has developed a "National Action Plan for the Phase-Out of Mercury-Added Products and the Management of the Associated Mercury-Containing Wastes."  Among the products targeted for action are mercury-laden cosmetics such as skin whitening creams and soaps.  

The EcoWaste Coalition will send another letter to Mayor Lazatin to propose further sanctions against retailers of unregistered cosmetic products after finding more illegal products being sold at Meisy David Cosmetics.

In test buy conducted yesterday, July 20, the group managed to procure from Meisy  15 other cosmetics lacking the required cosmetic product notifications such as artificial art nails, whitening cream in tube, lipstick, lip color or tint, and makeup powder, including counterfeits.

Among those procured by the group were fake MAC Mariah Carey Matte Lipsticks #01 and #02 that had 41,600 ppm and 9,133 ppm of lead, a potent neurotoxin, respectively.

Also bought from the same store were art nails that come with an adhesive glue containing banned dibutyl phthalate (DBP), which may cause "allergic reactions (that) can induce a state of hypersensitivity in the immune system," according to the FDA.

The FDA has warned that “counterfeit products, not having gone through the required safety assessment and the verification process of the FDA, pose potential health hazards to the consuming public since their safety and purity cannot be guaranteed.”

“Potential hazards may come from ingredients that are not allowed to be part of a cosmetic product such as Rhodamine B or from the contamination of heavy metals such as Lead (Pb) especially in lip cosmetic products,” the FDA said.

According to the FDA, “Rhodamine B is a fluorescent dye used as a tracer in water and air flow studies and in molecular and cell biology studies. It presents as a red to violet powder and has been shown to be carcinogenic in mammalian models. Lead (Pb) exposure may cause anaemia, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity and toxicity to the reproductive organs.”








18 July 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Hopes Duterte’s Fourth SONA Will Finally Put an End to Foreign Waste Dumping

The waste and pollution watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition is pinning its hopes on President Rodrigo Duterte banning the importation of all wastes into the country’s ports and using his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) as a vehicle to send this message out --- loud and clear. 

“We hope President Duterte in his upcoming SONA will reinforce his resolute stance against foreign waste dumping and give the environmental department and the customs bureau their marching orders to ensure zero entry of all wastes from overseas, including processed residuals cunningly called alternative fuels,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We also want him to set a definite deadline for the immediate re-export of Australian and South Korean waste shipments that are still languishing in Mindanao,” she said, 

To recall, 211 tons of waste-derived processed engineered fuel from Australia and 5,177 tons of mixed plastic waste from South Korea are stranded at the Mindanao Container Terminal and PHIVIDEC Industrial Estate in Tagoloan, Misamis, Oriental.

To assure the Filipino people that foreign waste dumping would no longer happen under Duterte's watch, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated the need for the government to enforce a complete and permanent ban, not simply a moratorium, on waste exports to the Philippines.  

“His fourth SONA is the right time for the chief policy maker to announce a total ban on foreign waste imports and his intent to ratify this year the Basel Ban Amendment and the Minamata Convention on Mercury, two landmark global agreements that seek to protect public health and the environment against hazardous chemicals and wastes,” she said.

The Basel Ban Amendment, adopted in 1995, prohibits the export of hazardous wastes and other wastes from developed to developing countries.  The ban applies to export for any reason, including recycling.  The Minamata Convention on Mercury, adopted in 2013, seeks to reduce global mercury pollution from human activities that emit and release mercury and its compounds.

The EcoWaste Coalition also expressed its hope that President Dutete will use his fourth SONA to rouse the whole nation into embracing much-needed waste prevention and reduction strategies at all levels, including banning single-use plastics, to curb chemical and waste pollution that is also threatening the world’s oceans. 

“We call on President Duterte to throw his weight behind the campaign to stop plastic pollution and to urge the 18th Congress to pass without delay a robust law banning single-use plastics, as well as to enact other plastic pollution prevention measures, including the ban on microplastics in personal care and cosmetic products,” she added.

The group also expected that the presidential speech would highlight the importance of implementing best ecological practices in waste management sans waste-to-energy incineration in all local government units.


17 July 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Calls for Ban on BPA in Plastic Baby Feeding Bottles and Sippy Cups (Group Pushes for the Issuance of Much-Delayed DOH A.O. Banning BPA in Plastic Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups)

The environmental and health advocacy group EcoWaste Coalition has renewed its appeal to the government to ban plastic feeding bottles and sippy cups containing the chemical bisphenol A or BPA.

As plastic-free July is observed by various advocacy groups worldwide, the group reiterated that BPA, an industrial chemical found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, should be disallowed in baby food contact materials as a precaution against health-damaging exposure to BPA.

Exposure to BPA, a known endocrine disrupting chemical, has been associated with a number of health problems, including increased risk of breast and prostate cancer, early onset of puberty, autism, hyperactivity, and childhood obesity, the group said.  

Recognizing the health risks and the need to protect newborns, infants and toddlers against BPA exposure, many countries have prohibited BPA in baby feeding bottles and sippy cups, including Brazil, Canada, China, India, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Africa, Thailand, USA and the 28-country European Union, the group noted.

“Considering the number of baby feeding bottles and sippy cups in the market with BPA-free product labeling claim, it appears to us that manufacturers have already opted to self-regulate and to comply with the BPA ban under existing regulations in the EU, USA, China and other countries,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“We think there is no industry resistance to BPA being banned or removed on plastic baby feeding bottles and sippy cups.  We therefore reiterate our call on the government to take action now,” he pointed out. 

As mandatory non-use of BPA in baby feeding bottles and sippy cups has to be explicitly imposed in the form of a regulation, the EcoWaste Coalition urged both the Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drug Administration (DOH) to fast track the issuance of the draft DOH Administrative Order, which has been pending since 2013.

To assist consumers in making an informed choice, the group further requested the FDA to issue an advisory that will publicize all duly-registered BPA-free baby feeding bottles and sippy cups that are authorized to be sold in the local market.  

To help the government in its literature review, the EcoWaste Coalition last April 2019, assisted by IPEN (a global civil society network for a toxics-free future), provided the FDA with peer-reviewed scientific papers from various sources.

Most recently, it shared the 2019 report “Bottles can be toxic” published by Toxics Link, an NGO based in New Delhi, India, indicating the release of BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups in extraction experiments conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati.

The study clearly established the presence of BPA in the samples analyzed and its migration into the baby foods in these containers.

“Presence of toxics chemicals in baby feeding bottles is a matter of serious concern and requires very stringent monitoring for adherence to standards,” Toxics Link emphasized.



16 July 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Pushes for Proper Waste Management Amid Spike in Dengue Cases

The national dengue alert issued by the Department of Health (DOH) prompted the EcoWaste Coalition to remind local government authorities and the general public to ensure that discarded materials that can hold water are properly managed in their communities.

On Monday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III declared the first-ever national alert against dengue “to raise awareness among the public and, more importantly, in communities where signs of early dengue increases are evident.” 

From January 1 to June 29, the DOH recorded 106,630 dengue cases, including 456 deaths, throughout the country, which is 85 percent higher than the 57,564 cases reported during the same period in 2018.

In response, the EcoWaste Coalition encouraged all local leaders, especially the barangay chairpersons, to see to it that discards are properly managed to deprive Aedes aegypti mosquitoes with breeding sites such as stagnant water in the surroundings.

"Reckless disposal of anything that can store water such as discarded tires, cans, bottles, plastic bags, and snack packs can serve as a breeding ground for Aedes aegypti,” the Zero Waste advocacy group said.

“If not kept dry and properly maintained, mosquitoes can also breed in recyclable materials that we sort and collect at home, store at school, market and barangay material recovery facilities, and even those we send to junk shops,” the group added.  

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can also breed in water storage containers such as tanks, drums and pails without covers, in flower vases and in plates under potted plants, in rain gutters and in other artificial or natural water containers, the group said.

To rid Aedes aegypti mosquitoes of breeding spots, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to take these 10 preventive steps to heart: 

-  Frequently inspect and remove stagnant water in your household and neighborhood.

-  Get rid of discards that can collect and hold water.

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

-  Keep recyclables dry and clean.

-  Change water in flower vases weekly.

-  Flip the flowerpot plate to remove water.

-  Cover water pails, drums, and tanks with lids or mosquito-proof mesh.

-  Empty and clean water containers thoroughly once a week.

-  Clear the roof gutter of leaves and other debris so that pools of water do not form.

-  Puncture or cut old rubber tires used as roof support to avoid collecting water.





15 July 2019

Toxics Watchdog Group Notifies Mayor Lazatin about the Illegal Sale of Mercury-Laced Skin Whitening Products in Angeles City (EcoWaste Coalition Urges Angeles City Mayor Lazating to Protect His Constituents against Health-Damaging Skin Whiteners with Mercury)

An environmental and health organization has requested Mayor Carmelo ”Pogi” Lazatin, Jr. to initiate law enforcement action to protect his constituents in Angeles City from being poisoned by mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics.

The Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition today wrote to Lazatin to bring an urgent public health issue to his attention: the unlawful sale of skin lightening facial creams with high levels of mercury, a toxic chemical that is not allowed in cosmetic products under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive (ACD).

As part of the group’s advocacy in support of the Minamata Convention of Mercury, the EcoWaste Coalition went to Angeles City yesterday, July 14, to check if products banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to their mercury content are being sold in the city.

The Minamata Convention, which the Philippines signed in 2013, has scheduled, among other things, the global phase-out by 2020 of mercury-added cosmetics such as skin lightening creams and soaps with mercury content about 1 part per million (ppm).   The Philippines is currently developing a National Action Plan on mercury-added products that are targeted for phase-out next year.

“We managed to buy eight skin whitening creams, which exceeded the 1 ppm allowable limit for mercury as contaminant in cosmetics .  The items, which were all imported, unregistered and lacking market authorization from the FDA, were procured from stores selling beauty and herbal products in Angeles City with official receipts provided,” stated Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition in his letter to Lazatin.

Using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device, the group detected excessive levels of mercury in all eight samples costing P100 to P300 each.  A “made in Taiwan” Yu Dan Tang freckle removing, whitening and sun block cream registered with a whopping  55,100 ppm of mercury.    This product is among the mercury-laden skin lightening products banned by the FDA in 2012.

Also screening positive for mercury are Goree Beauty Cream with 23,300 ppm and Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream with 17,400 ppm.  Both variants of Goree from Pakistan were banned by the FDA in 2017.

The group also found China-made Jiaoli and S’Zitang skin whitening products being sold by unscrupulous retailers in Angeles City.

“In pursuit of the general welfare provision of the Local Government Code, we request your office to take law enforcement action to stop the trade of dangerous cosmetics containing mercury in your city.  Such action will protect the health and safety of your constituents and the environment,” Dizon said.

“We further request your office to please consider enacting an ordinance similar to what Quezon City adopted in 2018 that will ban the manufacture, importation, distribution and sale of mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics in your area of responsibility,” he further suggested.

The World Health Organization has stated that “mercury-containing skin lightening products are hazardous to health.” 

According to the WHO: “The main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage.”

The WHO also warned that “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.”




13 July 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Backs Formation of BOC Strike Team vs Foreign Trash Imports

An environmental health and justice group opposed to foreign waste importation has welcomed the move by the Department of Finance (DOF) to create a special strike team within the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to prevent illegal waste importation.

The formation of such team, according to the EcoWaste Coalition, will complement ongoing efforts to revise existing regulations so as to prohibit the entry of hazardous wastes and other wastes in line with the presidential order banning foreign waste imports.

“Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez’s order to BOC to create such a team will be useful in averting the entry of waste shipments into our country’s ports,” stated Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“All BOC ports nationwide should have a dedicated group comprised of honest and principled women and men who will proactively act to frustrate the unloading and dumping of wastes from overseas into our shores,” she said.

“The efforts of Mindanao Container Terminal sub-port under the leadership of Port Collector John Simon in seizing  misdeclared waste shipments from Hong Kong and South Korea, as well as from Australia, should inspire other ports to be more vigilant against such imports,” she added.  

Dominguez issued the directive during a recent DOF Executive Committee meeting after BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero reported that he had called on his counterparts in ASEAN member states to strengthen their law enforcement capabilities to prevent the region from becoming a dumping ground for hazardous materials, including garbage, from other countries.

“It’s time we put up something like an environmental unit in the Customs to really act on this garbage issue,” Dominguez said.

Considering the continuing threat of illegal traffic waste, the EcoWaste Coalition pressed the DOF and the BOC to set up the special strike team soon.

“As time is of the essence, we hope the BOC strike team versus foreign waste imports will be set up soon.  Its formation will be in sync with the presidential order banning waste imports,” Lucero said.   

Last May 6, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte “ordered that the Philippines will no longer accept any waste from any country” as confirmed by his spokesperson Atty. Salvador Panelo.

To further shield the Philippines from  the adverse impacts of the global waste trade, the EcoWaste Coalition called on the government to hasten the country’s ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment.

The Basel Ban Amendment, which only needs ratification from two more eligible countries such as the Philippines to enter into force, seeks to prohibit the export of hazardous wastes and other wastes from developed to developing countries for any reason, including recycling.

“We expect the DOF and the BOC to strongly support the DENR in seeking President Duterte’s  ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment,” Lucero said.

After ratifying the treaty, the Office of the President has to transmit its decision to the Senate for concurrence.



12 July 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Cautions Consumers Anew against Buying and Using Counterfeit Lipsticks

The EcoWaste Coalition has again warned Filipino consumers against buying and using cheap imitation lipsticks that may be laced with lead and other heavy metal contaminants.

The anti-toxics watchdog group issued the warning after screening lipsticks bought from retailers of counterfeit cosmetics in Divisoria, Manila last July 9 and 11.  The group employed a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer to screen the items for heavy metals.

“Consumers should not think that imitation lipsticks -- because these are 'branded' -- are harmless to use.  These counterfeits, as we all know, have not been assessed for quality and safety by our health authorities and may contain health-damaging chemical and bacterial contaminants," said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“The presence of high levels of heavy metal contaminants in the lipsticks we screened may be attributed to the use of low-quality raw materials and the failure to observe good manufacturing practices,” he said.

"Consumers, especially women of child-bearing age, should avoid these tainted lipsticks. Pregnant women who may ingest lead in lipstick through multiple applications each day can expose babies in the womb at their very critical age of development.  Lead is known to cross the placenta and pile up in fetal tissues," he warned.

"Exposure to high levels of lead may also bring about reproductive health problems such as miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight, and birth defects,” he added.

Out of 32 samples costing P35 to P50 each, 10 were found to contain lead in the scale of 152 to 43,800 parts per million (ppm), way above the 20 ppm limit for lead as contaminant as per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive (ACD).

Some samples also screened positive for arsenic and mercury, which like lead, are not permitted by the ACD as ingredients in cosmetic product formulations. 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24, which bans lead above 90 ppm in paint products, also bans the use of lead and lead compounds in the production of cosmetics.

The following imitation lipsticks were among those found to be contaminated with high concentrations of lead:

1.  MAC Mariah Carey #02 (red canister), 43,800 ppm
2.  MAC Mariah Carey #02 (yellow canister), 41,100 ppm
3.  Naked Love #09, 25,600 ppm
4.  MAC Retro Matte #A08, 11,600 ppm
5.  MAC Zac Posen So Chaud #04, 7,523 ppm
6.  MAC Zac Posen Kinda Sexy #14, 4,626 ppm
7.  MAC Zac Posen Girl About Town #08, 4,532 ppm
8.  Revlon Matt Gossip Gurl #07, 1,232 ppm
9.  Revlon Matt Gossip Gurl #06, 242 ppm
10. MAC Zac Posen Angel #10, 152 ppm

According to the FDA, ”lead is a proven toxicant that accumulates in the body through constant exposure and absorption over a prolonged period. Health problems through chronic ingestion of high level of lead in lipsticks may manifest as neurologic, hematologic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and renal problems.”

“Lead easily crosses the placenta, and pregnant women should pay particular attention to the different sources of lead exposure,” the FDA warned.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed arsenic, lead and mercury among the “10 chemicals of major public health concern” requiring action by governments to protect the health of children, women of reproductive age, and workers.

To prevent human exposure to lead and other chemical as well as bacterial impurities in lipsticks, the EcoWaste Coalition again reminded consumers to observe the following precautionary measures: 

a. Check if the item has the required cosmetic product notification by accessing the FDA website.
b. Buy from a licensed retail outlet and ask for an official receipt.
c. If the price looks too good to be true, the product is most likely a counterfeit.
d. Use less, especially if the product is not guaranteed safe from lead and other contaminants.
e. Don’t let children play with lipstick.


Information on lead in lipstick:
Information on arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury:

Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong Urged to Protect Consumers against Mercury-Tainted Cosmetics

A non-government environmental and health watchdog group has notified the Baguio City government about the unlawful sale at the Central Business District of smuggled cosmetics containing hazardous chemicals such as mercury and lead.

Through a letter e-mailed and couriered to Mayor Benjamin Magalong, the Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition informed the authorities that it managed to buy from various retailers 15 skin whitening creams laden with mercury, a highly toxic chemical that is forbidden as ingredient in cosmetic product formulations.

“As part of our continuing advocacy in support of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which, among other things, has set a 2020 phase-out of cosmetics with mercury content above 1 part per million (ppm), the EcoWaste Coalition conducted yet another test buy of such products that are being sold in Baguio City,” wrote Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner.

The items, which were all imported, unregistered and lacking market authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), were procured from beauty and health product stores at Baguio Center Mall and the Maharlika Livelihood Complex and from general merchandise stores located at Magsaysay Ave. and Rajah Soliman St.

Mercury ranging from 970 to 23,700 parts per million (ppm) were detected in skin whitening products bearing the names Goree, Jiaoli and S’Zitang that the FDA had already banned due to their mercury content. 

As confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO), “mercury-containing skin lightening products are hazardous to health.”

According to the WHO: “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.”

“In pursuit of the general welfare provision of the Local Government Code and in order to promote the health and safety of your constituents and the environment, we request your office to do what is necessary to stop the trade of dangerous cosmetics containing mercury in your city,” Dizon said.

“Aside from immediate law enforcement action, we request your office to please consider enacting an ordinance similar to what Quezon City adopted that will ban the manufacture, importation, distribution and sale of mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics in your area of responsibility,” he added.

To combat the illegal trade of mercury-added cosmetics, the Quezon City Council in October 2018 unanimously enacted the said ordinance that was subsequently approved by then Mayor Herbert Bautista.

The group’s latest market surveillance in Baguio City also netted eight lipsticks with high concentrations of lead in excess of the 20 ppm regulatory limit.

Counterfeit MAC Mariah Carey and Qianxiu Hello Kitty lipsticks were found to contain lead in the range of 167 to 42,800 ppm.

According to WHO: “Lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children.”  Exposure to lead has also been linked to reproductive health issues such as hormonal changes, menstrual irregularities, delays in the onset of puberty, reduced fertility in both men and women, and miscarriage.

The EcoWaste Coalition used a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device to screen the product samples for mercury and lead.


08 July 2019

Visiting Expert: “Give Zero Waste Solution the Chance to Untrash Our Planet”

A long-time advocate for the Zero Waste solution to the waste crisis plaguing the entire planet, the Philippines included, has emphasized the need for key sectors to assume responsibility to reach the goal of changing our throw-away society. 

Dr. Paul Connett, a retired British professor on environmental chemistry and toxicology, told a skillshare organized by the EcoWaste Coalition and attended by 140 members and partners that Zero Waste is possible and that many cities and towns around the world are pooling their creative minds and energies to prevent the generation and destruction of discards.

The said skillshare is the last in Connett’s busy five-day advocacy tour hosted by No Burn Pilipinas that brought him to the bustling cities of Cebu, Davao, Baguio and Quezon to talk about the pitfalls of incinerating waste and the benefits of moving toward the Zero Waste direction. 

“Waste is the evidence that we are doing something wrong.  Our task is to not to find more and more sophisticated ways to destroy material resources but to persuade industry and retailers to stop making products and using packaging that have to be buried or burned.  Instead of destroyed resources, let us give Zero Waste solution the chance to untrash our planet,” he said.

Connett cautioned national and local government authorities against watering down the country’s ban on waste incineration that is enshrined in two major environmental laws, RA 8749 or the Clean Air Act and RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act through the so-called waste-to-energy schemes.  

“Burning waste materials in waste-to-energy incinerators or cement kilns will not rid our planet of garbage.  Even if incinerators or cement kilns burning waste are made safe, we would never make them sensible.  The waste problem will not be solved with better technology, but with better organization, education, and better industrial design,” he pointed out.

He also emphasized that “three things are needed to protect the public from toxic emissions such as dioxins and other pollutants from waste burners: strong regulations, adequate monitoring and tough enforcement.”

“If any of these three essential requirements is weak, the public is not protected,” he emphasized.

To achieve the Zero Waste goal, Connett drew attention to the need for industrial responsibility at the front end (for example, to re-design products for the environment), community responsibility at the back end (for example, segregate at source, reduce, reuse, recycle, compost), and good political leadership (for example, innovative, visionary, corruption-free) to bring these two together.

Reacting to single-use plastics inundating rivers and oceans and the proliferation of trade in contaminated plastic wastes, Connett said: “Packaging must be designed for reuse and products must be made for a prolonged life and capable of easy disassembly and repair.”

“Industry should also eliminate as much as possible the use of toxic elements and compounds in manufacturing products such as toxic metals like lead, cadmium and mercury, as well as compounds containing the problematic elements chlorine, bromine and fluorine.  Manufacturers and retailers should also take back their products and packaging for safe recycling after the customer has finished with them,” he added.

Connett further outlined the 10 steps toward a Zero Waste Community.  At a glance, these are: source separation; door-to-door collection; composting; recycling; reuse, repair, and deconstruction; waste reduction initiatives; economic incentives; residual separation and research facilities; better industrial design; and interim landfills for residuals.

Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, welcomed Connett’s words of wisdom and reiterated her group’s determination to fight quick fixes, such as waste-to-energy incinerators, to the country’s burgeoning waste generation at over 40,000 tons per day.

“With the participation of enlightened government, business and community leaders, we intend to pursue the Zero Waste strategy to untrash and lead our nation to a clean, healthy and sustainable future,” she said.

By Zero Waste strategy, Connett means saying no to incinerators and mega landfills, no to the prevailing throw-away culture, and yes to a sustainable society.


Dr. Paul Connett's Bio:

Dr. Paul Connett is a graduate of Cambridge University and holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from Dartmouth College.   From 1983 -2006, Paul taught chemistry at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY where he specialized in Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology.  Over the past 33 years, his research on waste management has taken him to 49 states in the US, 7 provinces in Canada and 65 other countries, including the Philippines, where he has given over 2,500 pro bono public presentations.  In October 2017, Paul was appointed to an International Board to advise the City of Rome, Italy on their plan to move toward Zero Waste. Paul is the author of the book “The Zero Waste Solution: Untrashing the Planet One Community at a Time,” which has a foreword by actor Jeremy Irons.  He last visited the Philippines in 2009 as guest of the EcoWaste Coalition for a workshop on the precautionary principle.