31 October 2019

Green Groups Urge Undas Travelers and Cemetery Visitors to Bring Water in Reusable Containers instead of Buying Water in Plastic Bottles

 Discarded disposable plastic water bottles.
 Receptacle for empty plastic bottles at new La Loma Catholic Cemetery.
Examples of reusable water containers.

In a bid to reduce the consumption of disposable plastic bottles, two zero waste advocacy groups urged those embarking on their Undas journey and those visiting the tombs of their deceased relatives to bring their own water in reusable containers.

Through a joint statement, the EcoWaste Coalition and the Mother Earth Foundation (MEF) urged the public to go for reusable water containers, which can be re-used countless times, to curb the mounting plastic waste that is polluting the environment, including the oceans.

“Opting for water in reusable containers instead of throw-away plastic bottles, which are petrochemical products, will be hugely beneficial for the environment and the climate,” said Sonia Mendoza, Chairman, MEF.

“As our nation and the entire planet wrestle with the negative impacts of chemical and plastic pollution and climate change, we urge everyone to go for reusable containers and fill them with clean tap water or, if needed, with boiled or filtered water,” added Mendoza who is also an Adviser to the EcoWaste Coalition.

According to studies in the US, “bottling water releases 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually and takes 17 million barrels of oil to produce a year’s supply, which is enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for the year or power 190,000 homes.”

“As not all reusable water containers are the same, we advise the public to select safe substitutes to disposable plastic bottles.  If metal-based containers such as vacuum flasks are preferred, please pick those that are not coated with lead paint as we have detected dangerously high lead levels on some painted flasks being offered for sale in local stores.  Also, shun those are not certified free of Bisphenol A (BPA), a known endocrine disruptor,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“If buying water in disposable plastic bottles cannot be avoided, we ask Undas travelers not to toss the used ones out of the car windows, throw them on the sidewalk, or burn them along with other discards in cemeteries.  Dispose of empty bottles in recycling bins or hand them over to waste recyclers please,” added Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

Studies indicate that “reusable bottles are a safe, less wasteful and eventually more cost-effective alternative to disposable ones,” the groups said. 

“By opting for reusable bottles, we help in reducing the volume of plastic waste that gets burned, dumped or spilled into the oceans, cut hazardous chemicals production, use and pollution, protect animals, especially marine life, and their natural habitat, and save  money, too,” the groups emphasized. 




30 October 2019

Public Urged to Heed Mayor Isko’s Plea to Keep Manila North and South Cemeteries Clean

A waste and pollution watchdog group has enjoined visitors to two of Metro Manila’s biggest and busiest cemeteries to heed the appeal made by Mayor Isko Moreno for a clean observance of Undas.

Moreno sought the cooperation of the public in keeping the city-managed Manila North and South Cemeteries clean as he urged everyone not to litter or leave their discards behind when they visit the tombs of their deceased relatives this Friday or Saturday.

“The mayor has spoken.  We hope the people will listen and take his guidance to heart.  Let us support the efforts of the Manila city government to make this year’s observance of Undas a pleasing occasion for both the living and the dead through reduced garbage generation and disposal in cemeteries,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Unlike in previous years, we hope that visitors this time around will show more respect to the dead and give up bad habits that dirty and pollute their resting places,” he said.

Topping the list of these disrespectful and polluting acts committed while visiting the dead include throwing garbage indiscriminately, open burning, smoking and vaping, urinating and even defecating in public, the group said.

“We appeal to everyone not to leave your rubbish in the cemetery.  It’s not OK to leave the cemetery in a mess. As should be expected, you have to pick up after yourself and not pass on the burden of cleaning up your own mess to others,” Benosa pointed out.

Borrowing words from Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, Vice President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP),  Benosa reiterated that "cemeteries are a hallowed ground, not a dumping ground for leftovers and disposables." 

To prevent and reduce waste and pollution in the cemeteries, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded the public to observe the following:

1. Don’t litter, dump or burn trash in the cemetery.

2. Offer local fresh flowers, not plastic ones, and refrain from wrapping them in plastic.

3. Pick clean-burning candles, and shun those with poisonous lead-cored wicks.

4. Pack meals and drinks in reusable containers.

5. Bring just enough food to avoid spoilage or wastage.

6. Avoid single-use plastics and go for reusable bags, food and beverage containers, and cutlery.

7. Don’t smoke or vape in the cemetery.

8. Bring all discards home, including leftovers, and do not leave any trash behind.

From October 30 to November 2 last year, Manila Department of Public Services reported collecting 35 truckloads of garbage from Manila North Cemetery and 26 truckloads from Manila South Cemetery.

“With the cooperation of all sectors, including the local authorities, cemetery administrators, food concessionaires, street vendors and the general public, we can reduce the volume of Undas trash and avoid another garbage overload in our jam-packed cemeteries ,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.


29 October 2019

Caloocan Prelate, EcoWaste Coalition Urge the Faithful Not to Trash Undas

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Vice President and Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David and the EcoWaste Coalition, a zero waste advocacy group, urged Catholic Filipinos to break away from the “traditional” littering at cemeteries ahead of the All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, or Undas, on November 1 and 2.

“The time-honored practice of remembering our deceased loved ones and the Saints has turned into a de facto feast of litterbugs as cemetery guests leave tons of trash on what is supposed to be a sacred ground,” said Bishop David.

“Let us break away from littering and other disrespectful acts and celebrate Undas as a prayerful instead of a wasteful occasion.  Cemeteries are a hallowed ground, not a dumping ground for leftovers and disposables,” the pro-environment prelate emphasized.

To hammer home the message that cemeteries should not be treated as dumpsites, the EcoWaste Coalition, together with the Diocese of Kalookan’s Ministry on Ecology and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, today launched a joint campaign at the La Loma Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in the metropolis, espousing the theme “Kalinisan sa Huling Hantungan, Igalang ang Kalikasan.”

“We appeal to our fellow Catholics to take the saying ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’ to heart when they visit the cemeteries.  Our dearly departed ones deserve nothing less than a clean resting place,” reminded Sister Maria May Cano, OP, Coordinator of the Diocese of Kalookan’s Ministry on Ecology and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management. 

“The most effective way of preventing Undas garbage overload is by avoiding the generation of trash in the first place.  This will require the conscious decision by families and individuals to consume responsibly, avoid single-use plastics and other disposables and not leave piles of rubbish in the cemeteries,” said Jove Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Echoing Bishop David’s plea, the groups enunciate practical steps to reduce waste and pollution in cemeteries and their environs.

Among the 10-point reminders from the groups toward a Zero Waste Undas are the following:

1.  Don’t litter, dump or burn trash in the cemetery.

2.  Choose lead-safe paints for repainting tombs.

3.  Offer local fresh flowers, not plastic ones, and refrain from wrapping them in plastic.

4.  Pick clean-burning candles, and shun those with poisonous lead-cored wicks.

5.  Avoid making noise or playing loud music in the cemetery.

6.  Pack meals and drinks  in reusable containers.

7. Bring just enough food to avoid spoilage or wastage.

8.  Avoid single-use plastics and go for reusable bags, food and beverage containers, and cutlery. 

9.  Don’t smoke or vape in the cemetery.

10.  Bring all discards home, including leftovers, and do not leave any trash behind.

To emphasize the above reminders, community youth scholars from Barangay Tanza II, Navotas City presented a skit before an enthusiastic crowd.

Also, the Diocese of Kalookan and the EcoWaste Coalition, together with the Nagkakaisang Lakas ng mga Mangangalakal sa Longos and the Samahan ng mga Mangangalakal ng Scrap sa Capulong, lighted candles and paid tribute to departed environmental warriors led by former Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez.

The program ended with the installation of a signage at the cemetery gate urging visitors to observe the 10-point reminders to achieve Zero Waste Undas.    

“Together, let us make this year’s Undas more respectful and less wasteful compared to previous years,” the groups said.


28 October 2019

Toxic Candles Flagged by EcoWaste Coalition Ahead of Undas

The EcoWaste Coalition reminded the public not to buy and use candles with health-damaging lead-cored wicks as millions are expected to pay their respects to the dead in cemeteries and columbaria this week.

The waste and pollution watchdog group issued the reminder after confirming that such candles, which the US federal government banned in 2003 and which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Philippines advised the public against buying and using in 2016, are still being sold in the market, particularly in Binondo, Manila.

In test buys conducted on October 27, the group managed to buy candles with lead-cored wicks from Taiwan from a shop in Ongpin St. that sells Chinese prayer articles.  The red-colored candles, sold from P120 up per pair depending on the size, are available in clear glass containers shaped like gourd, lotus and pineapple.   

As per X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) screening, the candle wicks have lead content reaching up to 8,668 parts per million (ppm).

“We advise the public not to light candles with lead-cored wicks as this could pose a lead poisoning risk, especially to young children who may inhale the lead that vaporizes into the air as the candle burns,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“While the ingestion of lead-containing dust, soil and paint chips is the principal route of childhood lead exposure, it is essential that all other preventable sources of lead poisoning in children are averted,” he added.

As stated in FDA Advisory 2016-146, which was issued at the insistence of the EcoWaste Coalition, emissions from candles with lead-cored wicks “can result in increased blood lead levels in unborn babies, babies and young children.”

Exposure to lead has been linked to brain and central nervous system damage, delayed mental and physical development, learning difficulties, behavioral problems, hormone disruption and other health issues.

For children’s health, the group advised the public to shun lead-emitting imported candles and to opt for locally-made candles with braided or twisted cotton as wicks.

Aside from mass-produced candles on store shelves, there are also candles sold “for a cause” that consumers can choose from such as those made by released prisoners and their families belonging to the Binhi ng Pag-asa Community Inc., the group said.

To stop the importation, distribution and sale of candles with lead-cored wicks, the EcoWaste Coalition has recommended a follow-up FDA advisory that will explicitly prohibit the trade of such toxic candles.




27 October 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Cautions Consumers against Potential Hazards in Halloween Costumes, Decors and Toys

Photo of sampled Halloween items

Photo of Halloween items containing chemicals of concern

Think twice before spending: Some items that are offered for sale in celebration of Halloween may pose chemical and injury risks, especially for young children.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an advocate for a zero waste and toxics-free society, alerted consumers after identifying potential hazards in some Halloween costumes, decors and toys that the group obtained from local retailers. 

The group purchased 35 Halloween products costing P25 to P199 each on October 25 and 26 from retailers in Monumento, Caloocan City; Quiapo, Manila City; Libertad, Pasay City; and Cubao, Quezon City.

“Our market investigation shows that many Halloween items, particularly children’s toys, are not properly registered with the health authorities and are oftentimes inadequately labeled or not labeled at all,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.  

“Despite the national phase-out of lead-containing decorative paints, we still found some items coated with bright paints with high lead content,” he noted.

"This is very worrying as the consequences of childhood lead exposure can be lifelong," he said, "as lead is toxic to multiple body systems, including children's developing brains."   

Out of 35 samples, nine Halloween decorations, including four pumpkin figurine sets, three jack-o’-lanterns and two toy animals, were found to contain lead above the regulatory limit  of 90 parts per million (ppm).   The orange-painted jack-o’-lanterns, in particular, had dangerously high lead levels above 10,000 ppm.   

The group also detected high antimony and bromine content in two Halloween hairbands, indicating the probable presence of toxic brominated flame retardants on the horse-shoe shaped recycled plastic material.

Also a ceramic Halloween candy bowl was found to contain 262 ppm of cadmium.

The group likewise found light-up toys and hairbands powered by small button batteries that are not securely fastened.

“Such Halloween accessories and toys may pose chemical or choking risks  for young children as the battery may easily detach from the item, get swallowed or placed in the ears or nostrils of a child," Dizon said.

The group also found an item that is prone to catching on fire without usage instructions and precautionary warning.

 “While negative for heavy metals, we find an unlabeled costume mask with fake hair dangerous as the hair can easily catch fire and harm the child wearing it,” he said.

The group further warned consumers against the use of vampire-inspired accessories that come with “fake blood.”

“It’s hard to guess what makes up the ‘fake blood’ because of the absence of any labeling information.  Parents should not allow such liquid of unknown composition to be ingested by a child,” stressed Dizon.   

As a general rule, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to be inquisitive when buying Halloween items, shun those that are not registered and labeled, and steer away from items that may cause injury or pose burn, chemical, choking, laceration, strangulation and other hazards.    

For a safer Halloween celebration, the EcoWaste Coalition urged consumers, particularly parents, to consider the following "lucky seven" tips:

1.  Refrain from buying unlabeled and unregistered toys, carefully check the label, including the chemical safety and health information and usage instructions .

2.  Pick the right toys for the right age, and that are suited to a child's ability and behavior.

3.  Shun painted toys unless these are certified as lead-safe.

4.  Avoid face paints unless guaranteed free of toxic metals and other cosmetic contaminants.

5.  Don’t buy toys that have small parts such as button batteries that can easily be pulled off and ingested.

6.  Reject polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic toys that may contain banned phthalates and other hazardous substances such as cadmium and lead.

7.  Refrain from buying toys that have a strong chemical or perfumed smell.


26 October 2019

Health and Environmental Advocates Call on the Public Not to Burn Trash in Cemeteries

Garbage burns at Manila South Cemetery despite the national ban on open burning (photos taken on 27 October 2019)

Health and environmental advocates raised the alarm against the dangers of open burning as citizens started flocking to cemeteries to clean up the graves of their deceased relatives in time for the upcoming observance of Undas.

Through a joint statement, public health expert Dr. Maricar Limpin and zero waste campaigner Jove Mendoza reminded the people that open burning is unhealthy, as well as illegal and punishable under the country’s environmental laws. 

“The open burning of discards from the sprucing up of the tombs of our dearly departed ones should be completely avoided for various health reasons,” said Limpin, a well-known pulmonologist and Secretary of the Philippine College of Physicians.

“Open burning generates environmental pollutants such as smoke and soot containing toxic fine particles and other substances of concern that can get into the lungs and the blood stream.  Exposure to these pollutants can cause breathing difficulties and trigger asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses, especially among children, the elderly and those already suffering from weakened immune systems,” she said.  

Aside from particulates, open burning is known to produce other harmful contaminants such as dioxins, greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, heavy metals like lead, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and other pollutants.

“Because of its known negative effects on public health and the environment, open burning has been banned under our national laws as well as city, municipal and barangay ordinances as an essential pollution prevention measure,” pointed out Benosa, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Among the laws banning and penalizing open burning are Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and Republic Act 8749, or the Clean Air Act, he said.

RA 9003 lists “the open burning of solid waste” as one of the prohibited acts punishable with a fine of P300 to P1,000 or imprisonment for one to 15 days, or both.

While R.A. 8749 states that “no person shall be allowed to burn any materials in any quantities which shall cause the emission of toxic and poisonous fumes."

“Instead of burning discards, we appeal to cemetery administrators and visitors to follow the provisions of  RA 9003, which requires the segregation of discards at source and their ecological management such as by composting the biodegradables and recycling the recyclables,” said Benosa

“Grass clippings, plant cuttings, and other organics are better turned into compost rather than toxic smoke and soot,” he added.


24 October 2019

Sycwin Coating & Wires, Inc. Receives Lead Safe Paint® Certification for All Paint Brands

IPEN, an international non-profit leader on environmental health and chemical safety, announced today that paint products manufactured by Sycwin Coating & Wires, Inc. (Sycwin), a leading paint manufacturer from the Philippines, have been certified under the Lead Safe Paint® standard. Sycwin is the world’s first company to have its industrial paint brands certified lead-safe in conformity with the approaching phase-out period for industrial paints in the Philippines at the end of the year. The certification encompasses its entire portfolio of architectural paints, including PureCoat Premium, WeatherGard, Sycwin, PureCoat Advance, Minnesota, Delaware, Alabama, and Kansas, as well as industrial paint brands Guilder and Illinois – 10 brands and 590 products in all. 

"Our company is extremely proud to receive Lead Safe Paint® certification for all our brands. We are especially proud of the recognition of our leading premium brand, Guilder, as the first industrial paint brand to achieve the Lead Safe Paint® certification in the world," said Michael Sy, President of Sycwin. "Earning this certification even for our economy-grade paint brands shows our company's full commitment to protecting the health and safety of the children and families in our community and the environment." 

Lead Safe Paint® is an independent certification program that verifies paints contain less than 90 parts per million (ppm) total lead on a dry weight basis—the strictest regulatory limit for lead content in paint established by any government anywhere in the world and the limit recommended by the UN Environment Programme. The current regulatory limit in the Philippines, Nepal, Cameroon, and Ethiopia is a total maximum lead content of 90 ppm for all paints. Adherence to this limit ensures that a manufacturer can sell its paint anywhere in the world. This limit is achievable when a manufacturer does not use lead compounds in pigments, driers, and other paint additives in its products.

“Despite strong scientific evidence establishing the dangers of lead exposure, paints containing high, unsafe lead levels continue to be sold in many countries, especially in developing countries and countries in economic transition. The leadership taken by Sycwin and other companies will improve the health and safety of communities in the developing world,” said Jeiel Guarino, Global Lead Paint Elimination Campaigner, IPEN.

The World Health Organization has indicated that there is no known safe level of lead exposure without harmful effects, and even low levels of lead exposure may cause lifelong and irreversible health problems. Lead is especially dangerous to children’s developing brains and may cause reduced intelligence quotient (IQ) and impaired cognitive functions, among others.

“There is growing education and awareness driving global demand for safer paint products. The lead-safe paint certification will enable customers to make informed choices that will protect their families from the hazards of lead exposure,” adds Nicole Muñoz, Managing Director for SCS Global Services, IPEN’s exclusive third-party certification body.

Industry and civil society experts in the Philippines encourage other paint manufacturers to follow Sycwin’s leadership:

Ely Kenneth Ong Sue, President of the Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers (PAPM), states:
“As one of the third-party certification program’s proponents five years ago, we encourage other member manufacturers to take part in this program and support their commitment to ensure the paints they sell to consumers do not contain added lead.”

Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner of EcoWaste Coalition, says:
“The success of Sycwin in passing the rigorous certification procedures is another proof of the local paint industry’s capability to produce quality products that will protect children from lead-based paint hazards. We hope more products will carry the distinct Lead Safe Paint® logo to help consumers in making a sound choice when buying paints.”


About IPEN

IPEN is a global non-government organization (NGO) comprised of over 500 Participating Organizations in 121 countries working for a toxics free future. It has conducted lead paint testing and analysis in more than 50 countries and is a member of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint Advisory Group. It is also the Scheme Owner for the Lead Safe Paint® standard and certification mark. For information, visit www.ipen.org.

About EcoWaste Coalition

The EcoWaste Coalition is a non-profit network of over 140 public interest groups in the Philippines that have coalesced to advance “a zero waste and toxics-free society where communities enjoy a safe and healthy environment.”  Founded in 2000, the EcoWaste Coalition strives to attain such a vision by fostering and supporting activism around priority issues and concerns in line with the Filipino people’s constitutional rights to health and to a balanced and healthful ecology.  For more information, visit www.ecowastecoalition.org.

About Sycwin Coating & Wires, Inc.

SYCWIN COATING & WIRES, INC. is the only company in the Philippines that manufactures both paints and wires. Established in 1970, it caters to trade and industrial customers, original equipment manufacturers and direct end-users. Since 1999, it has successfully been registered under International Standards: ISO 9001 for Quality Management System and ISO 14001 for Environmental Management System since 2008. Sycwin is committed to provide quality products and services responsive to the needs of customers and the community through sustainable and environment-friendly development. For more information, visit http://www.sycwin.com/.

About SCS Global Services

SCS is a trusted leader in third-party environmental, sustainability and food quality certification, auditing, testing and standards development. SCS works with companies, government agencies, and stakeholders worldwide to identify and drive practices, policies and processes that advance the goals of sustainable development and give innovators a competitive advantage. Its certification services and sustainability solutions span the natural resources, green building, energy, agricultural, and consumer products sectors, enabling policy-makers, purchasers, company decision-makers and consumers to make informed decisions based on the highest level of environmental, ethical and quality accountability. SCS is a chartered benefit corporation. For more information, visit www.scsglobalservices.com.

Media Contacts:
Jeiel Guarino, IPEN, +46 31 7995930, jeielguarino@ipen.org 
Thony Dizon, EcoWaste Coalition, +63 917 8364725, thony.dizon24@yahoo.com 
Joan Menco, Sycwin, +63 917 8384486  joan.menco@sycwin.com 
Sabrina Chin, SCS Global Services, +1 510 452 6814, schin@scsglobalservices.com

21 October 2019

Teachers Join the 2019 International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action

Teachers of Tondo High School in Manila learn the hazards of lead, particularly lead in paint, as they join the global movement to protect children and other vulnerable groups from preventable sources of lead exposure. 

20 October 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Finds Outdoor Play Equipment Coated with Dangerous Levels of Lead


High levels of lead, a potent neurotoxin, have been discovered on public playground equipment in several cities across the country. The painted play equipment containing dangerous amounts of lead pose a serious lead poisoning risk for young children, rousing environmental health advocates to call for the effective enforcement of the ban on lead in all paints, especially for applications that can expose children to lead contamination.

The EcoWaste Coalition sounded the alarm over lead painted play equipment as the UN-backed International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action is observed from October 20-26 with focus on eliminating lead paint.  To mark the occasion, the group assembled today at the Caloocan City People’s Park to press for a lead-safe play environment for all Filipino children.

According to the report “Lead in Playground Equipment in the Philippines,” 50 out of  55 play equipment analyzed by the group had total lead concentrations above 90 parts per million (ppm), the limit set by DENR A.O. 2013-24 and reiterated by EMB M.C. 2016-010.  In addition, 42 of such lead-coated playground equipment had dangerously high lead levels above 10,000 ppm.  Multi-layered lead painted surfaces were found to be most hazardous with lead levels reaching up to 662,863 ppm.

The group detected the lead-coated playground equipment using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) chemicals analyzer in 12 out of 14 public playgrounds located in Luzon (Baguio City), Visayas (Cebu, Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue Cities, and Consolacion, Cebu), Mindanao (Davao City) and the National Capital Region (Caloocan, Malabon, Manila, Navotas and Quezon Cities).  A newly-inaugurated public playground in Caloocan City was  found to be lead-safe.

“The high levels of lead detected on the paint of outdoor playground equipment are very worrisome and unacceptable.  The paint will deteriorate with repeated use and exposure to sun and rain.  This will cause the paint to peel and get into the dust and soil, which can be ingested by children through common hand-to-mouth behavior,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“Lead-containing dust and soil is the major pathway by which lead in paint contributes to children’s lead exposure, which can adversely affect their health throughout their lives.  The findings of the EcoWaste Coalition should trigger a review as to how the country’s lead paint regulations are being enforced and how these can be strengthened,” said  Jeiel Guarino, Global Lead Paint Elimination Campaigner, IPEN.

“The dangerous levels of lead detected on mostly old multi-coated play equipment should prompt the authorities into developing a national strategy and program addressing the toxic legacy of lead paint, especially exposed lead paint in places where children live, study and play,”  added Manny Calonzo, Adviser, EcoWaste Coalition.

The said report, prepared in collaboration with IPEN, a global network of public interest NGOs for a toxics-free future, including the EcoWaste Coalition, highlights the importance of urgent actions to enforce the ban on lead paint for all purposes, especially for decorations and coatings on products that can contaminate children’s environment.

The study was undertaken to raise public awareness about the presence of lead paint in children’s playgrounds and persuade the authorities to take decisive actions, including the implementation of lead paint regulations and the promotion of safety measures to reduce lead dust hazards when old lead painted play equipment are renovated, repainted or replaced.

Both the EcoWaste Coalition and IPEN are pushing for the effective enforcement of lead paint regulations, including the mandatory procurement and use of lead-safe paints, to ensure that children and other vulnerable groups such as women and workers are protected from lead exposure.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Lead exposure affects human health, especially for children. There is no known level of lead exposure without harmful effects. Even low levels of lead exposure may cause lifelong health problems.”

“Lead is especially dangerous to children’s developing brains, and can cause reduced intelligence quotient (IQ) and attention span, impaired learning ability, and increased risk of behavioral problems. These health impacts also have significant economic costs to countries,” the WHO said.

As stated by Dr. Maria Neira, Director of WHO’s Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health,“Lead paint represents one of the most widespread sources of lead exposure to infants and children. Yet lead paint still lurks in homes, in schools and on toys.  Banning lead paint now can prevent future exposures. This is a very good investment in your health, and in the health of your children.”

The WHO has warned that “childhood lead exposure is estimated to contribute to about 600,000 new cases of children with intellectual disabilities every year.”


01 October 2019

EcoWaste Coalition Appeals in Earnest for PH Ratification of Mercury Treaty

The waste and pollution watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition has appealed to the national government to fast track the country’s ratification of a global treaty that aims to protect public health and the environment from the deleterious effects of mercury poisoning.

“We strongly believe that our country is ready, willing and able to ratify and implement the provisions of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which the government signed six years ago on October 10, 2013,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“As a matter of fact, our country has already achieved a number of policy and regulatory milestones to control, if not eliminate, mercury pollution from human activities,” he said.

“We therefore request the Duterte government to ratify the treaty and to secure the necessary concurrence by the Senate,” he said.

Dizon cited the phase-out of mercury-based medical devices such as thermometers in 2010, the ban on mercury use in artisanal and small-scale gold mining in 2012, the adoption of extended producer responsibility for mercury lamps in 2013, and the prohibition on over 135 mercury-contaminated skin whitening products from 2010 to 2018.

Most recently, in July 2019, the government launched the “National Action Plan for the Phase-Out of Mercury-Added Products (MAPs) and the Management of the Associated Mercury-Containing Wastes” in anticipation of the global phase-out target by 2020 for specified MAPs.

“The ratification of the pact will strengthen our country’s resolute efforts to combat mercury pollution as this will allow us to fully engage in treaty processes as Party to the Convention.  Also, it will allow us to gain more access to financial resources, technology transfer, and capacity-building opportunities,” Dizon pointed out.

According to the “Ratification Dossier” published by the Environmental Management Bureau, “the existing policies, programs, and regulations have, to some degree, prepared the Philippines in terms of fulfilling the requirements of the Convention.”

It noted that “despite the economic cost to comply with the provisions of the Convention, the long-term benefits of becoming a Party far outweigh the disadvantages.”

The dossier cited that “the Convention is consistent with the country’s basic policy to protect and preserve the right to health of Filipinos, and the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology.”

“With the aid of the Convention, the ever-increasing threat of mercury pollution to public health and environment could be minimized or eliminated,” the dossier said.

To recall, the mercury treaty is named after the city of Minamata in Japan, which suffered decades-long incidence of mercury poisoning due to the discharge of industrial wastewater into the sea by a chemical factory.

The treaty, which entered into force on August 16, 2017, has been ratified by 113 countries to date.

Among other things, the mercury treaty provides for a ban on new mercury mines and the phase-out of existing ones, the phase-out and phase-down of mercury use in a number of products and processes, control measures on emissions to air and on releases to land and water, and the regulation of artisanal and small-scale gold mining.

The third meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury, or COP3, will take place in Geneva, Switzerland from November 25 to 29 this year.