29 August 2013

Use of Lead-Containing Plastic Net Bags to Squeeze Coconut Milk Alarms Group

Net bags laced with lead (top) and net bags with no detectable levels of lead and other chemicals of concern (bottom)

The use of lead-containing reusable plastic net bags in place of cheesecloth in the extraction of coconut cream or milk, the all-time favorite “gata,” has alarmed a group working to minimize lead exposure in children and other vulnerable groups.

The EcoWaste Coalition expressed concern over this prevalent practice in public markets in Metro Manila after detecting lead in 13 out of 22 net bags commonly used to get the milk out of grated coconut meat.

“Gata” is a must-have ingredient for Filipino delicacies such as Bicol Express (
pork cooked in coconut milk with shrimp paste and chillies) and a variety of meats and vegetables simmered in coconut milk, as well as other much-loved dessert cakes and soups.

“The lead on the net bags might get into the coconut milk with normal wear and tear after repeated use and become an unintentional contaminant in the food we eat,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect. 

A contaminant is “any biological or chemical agent, foreign matter or other substances not intentionally added to food that may compromise food safety or suitability,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

22 samples of such net bags were procured by the group on August 25-28, 2013 at the Guadalupe and Sacramento Markets in Makati City, 9 de Febrero and Marketplace-Kalentong in Mandaluyong City, Sta. Ana and Quinta Markets in Manila City, and Mega-Q-Mart, Commonwealth and Farmers’ Markets in Quezon City.

The group then analyzed the samples using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer and detected  average lead levels of 2,213 parts per million (ppm) on the yellow twine of 13 samples, with one sample having 3,551 ppm of lead.

Trace amounts of arsenic (ave. 308 ppm) and chromium (ave. 1,021 ppm) were also found on the 13 lead-positive samples, while 8 samples had mercury (ave. 38 ppm).

The good news is 9 of the net bags, including used pink and purple garlic packaging net bags, had no detectable levels of lead and other chemicals of concern.

Instead of hand squeezing grated coconut pulp using cheesecloth, vendors now mostly use a simple hand-operated squeezer to extract the milk out of the ground coconut on the net bag, which is repeatedly pressed to get the milk and then sieved to remove coconut bits.

“To prevent lead contaminant in food, the ingredients, materials and utensils used by food preparers should be safe from lead,” Dizon said.

Lead, warned the EcoWaste Coalition, is universally known for its toxicity even at low doses and lead exposure has been blamed for numerous health problems such as neurological disorders, reproductive abnormalities, cardiovascular diseases and diminished intelligence, to name a few.
According to WHO, more than 80% of the daily intake of lead is derived from the ingestion of food, dirt and dust laced with lead.

Lead in the food chain comes mailinly from the direct deposit of airborne particulate mater in plants and from farm animals eating soil laden with lead as they munch on the plants.

Lead in food can also come from the use of lead-glazed ceramics, lead-soldered food and beverage cans and lead-containing packaging, as well as contact with lead-laced machinery used to process food items.



27 August 2013

Watchdog Applauds Anti-Corruption Protestors for Clean Assembly

(Photo by Kristine Sabillo, PDI)

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, lauded every Juan and Juana de la Cruz who went to Luneta yesterday to denounce the anomalous pork barrel system for leaving the park unsoiled.

“We commend the hundreds of thousands of Filipinos for manifesting their anger over corruption without sullying the historic park with garbage. We have proven that we can be downright angry at pork barrel abuse,  but disciplined and environmentally-responsible,” said Aileen Lucero, Acting National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Despite being ‘leaderless,’ Monday’s anti-pork barrel rally positively set a benchmark against which to measure future public events in Luneta and other outdoor venues,” she pointed out.

“Kudos to the participants for determinedly exercising their right to protest and be heard in a manner that did not pollute and ruin the surroundings,” she added.

The group, along with the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC), had earlier appealed to the protestors to respect the “no smoking, no littering” policy of Rizal Park, Manila’s green lung and premier open space.

NPDC Director Juliet Villegas, media commentators and netizens had noted that yesterday’s rally was comparatively “clean.”

“Thumbs up to protestors who avoided creating waste, took their discards home or picked up after some litterbugs,” Lucero said.

“We also would like to recognize and thank the itinerant waste pickers, eco-volunteers and street sweepers deployed by the NPDC, the Department of Public Services of the City of Manila and the Metro Manila Development Authority for their help in keeping the park garbage-free,” she added.

The EcoWaste Coalition further cited the “Million People March” in Luneta as “eco-friendly” for not doing the following acts that create wastes and toxins or damage trees and properties.

- no hanging of banners on trees
- no throwing of confetti
- no blasting of firecrackers or fireworks
- no burning of effigies
- no burning of trash

- no vandalism


26 August 2013

Environmental Advocates Wield Broomsticks to Sweep Away Pork Barrel Scammers and Systemic Corruption

Some 100 advocates for environmental health and justice today linked arms with other citizens in Luneta for the “Million People March” to denounce the corruption-plagued pork barrel system.
Brandishing walis tingting (coconut midriff broomsticks) and a green banner that says “linisin ang lipunan sa basura, toksiko at katiwalian” (clean up the society of garbage, toxic and corruption), the contingent of environmentalists gathered at the carabao statue fronting Rizal Monument then merged with the other protestors.
We have come here to add our voice to those seeking to end corruption in the government as exemplified by the nauseating and shameless looting of the pork barrel funds,” said Aileen Lucero, Acting National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
Today, we join the rest of the country in shouting ‘enough is enough,’ sweep out corruption that is blighting the quality of the people’s lives, the economy and environment,” she said.
"By being united like the coconut midriffs tied together, we can reclaim the power that we, the people, have entrusted to crooked public officials and triumph over the systemic fraud and corruption enslaving the nation,” she said.
By wielding the walis tingting, the humble implement used in daily household cleaning, the EcoWaste Coalition would like to get these two points across:
 1.  We need to clean the dirt and grime that have seeped into the entire government through the pork barrel system and uphold transparency and accountability in the management of public funds.
 2.  We cannot allow the pork barrel scam to be swept under the rug and that a truthful, speedy and transparent investigation should lead to the prosecution and punishment of all scammers involved.
Among the environmental groups that came over to Luneta for the historic “Million People March” were the EcoWaste Coalition, Arugaan, Ban Toxics, Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, Eco-Marino, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Health Care Without Harm, Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying, November 17 Movement, Papawis Lang Cycling Club, Sagip Pasig Movement, Samahang Muling Pagkabuhay-Smokey Mountain and Zero Waste Philippines.
The EcoWaste Coalition had earlier condemned the reported embezzlement of some P10-B pork barrel funds, lamenting that such a huge sum of money could have eased, if not provided enduring solutions, to the country’s waste and toxic problems.
The plundered funds could have assisted our communities in raising public awareness and participation in the ecological management of discards that has proven benefits of reducing the volume of garbage for disposal to the least,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.
The misused funds could have also helped the government in meeting the objectives of Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, particularly the required closure, cleanup and rehabilitation of polluting dumpsites that should have ceased operations way back in February 2006.

25 August 2013

P10-B Wasted Pork Barrel Could Have Funded Solutions to Nation's Garbage Woes

(Cartoon by Roni Santiago)

The P10-billion pork barrel funds that have gone astray could have helped in financing solutions to the country’s perpetual garbage woes.

The EcoWaste Coalition stressed this point as communities inundated by relentless monsoon rains in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon come to grips with one of the most visible after effects of the weather disturbance: garbage.

“The plundered funds could have assisted our communities in raising public awareness and participation in the ecological management of discards that has proven benefits of reducing the volume of garbage for disposal to the least,” said Aileen Lucero, Acting National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“P10-B could have eased, if not provided enduring solutions, to the waste and toxic crisis affecting our people and the environment,” she said.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, the ten billion pesos of wasted taxpayers’ money could have funded, in full or in part, a range of responsive programs and services addressing the country’s swelling waste estimated at 39,257 tons/day by the National Solid Waste Management Commission.

The P10-B squandered public funds could have funded:

1. 1,000,000 whole-day training activities on ecological solid waste management involving 50,000,000 people at P10,000/50-person activity covering meals, hand-outs, speakers’ honoraria and other basic incidental expenses.

2.  1,000,000 to 2,000,000 Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) at P5,000 – P10,000/facility for rural barangays, and 20,000 to 200,000 MRFs at P50,000 – 500,000/facility for urban barangays; MRFs serve as depositories for segregated discards that can be reused, recycled or
composted to minimize the volume of trash sent to residual waste landfill.

3. 22,222 biodegradables shredder (7 Hp, 1.5 tons/hour) costing P450,000/machine to cut up garden or farm waste and other organics into small pieces to speed up the composting process.

4. 2,857,142 generic sewing machines at P3,500/unit that community women can use to make reusable bags from fabrics, doy packs, flour and rice sacks and other materials.

5.  1,538,461 pedicabs at P6,500/unit or 2,857,142 wooden carts at P3,500 /cart that itinerant waste recyclers can use for “bote-dyaryo” business.

6.  66,666 junk shops that will ideally need a start-up capital of P150,000.

7. 2,000,000 low-interest loans at P5,000/person that will enable waste pickers to venture into micro-enterprises to augment their incomes.

The P10-B wasted funds could have also alleviated the living and working conditions of the informal recyclers, which, in addition to access to low-interest loans, need insurance coverage, skills building opportunities, educational assistance for their children, protective gears, etc.

Additionally, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out that with P10-B, the government could have realized the many salient requirements of Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, including assisting local governments in shutting down, cleaning up and rehabilitating open and controlled dumpsites that have persisted to exist beyond their mandatory closure in February 2006.

On Monday, August 26, a contingent from member groups of the EcoWaste Coalition will join the “Million People March” to demonstrate their anger and indignation over the gross misuse of pork barrel funds by certain officials and their cohorts, including some phony non-government organizations.


Notes for the Media:

1. The 10,000/whole-day training activity on ecological solid waste management with 50 participants per activity is based on the estimates provided by the Mother Earth Foundation and the Zero Waste Philippines.

2. The costs for constructing MRFS came from Mother Earth Foundation, Zero Waste Philippines and the National Solid Waste Management Commission

5. An RU Biodegradables Shredder (7 Hp, 1.5 tons/hour) costs P450,000/unit; info from RU Foundry and Machine Corp., # 6 Spring Drive, Congressional Village 1, Congressional Ave. Proj. 8 Q.C, Phone: 929-6550;

6. Cost of a pedicab: P6,500;

7. Cost of a kariton: estimated cost

8. Cost of start-up capital for a small junk shop business: P150,000;

9. Cost of one manual sewing machine: a. generic sewing machine, P3,500 and basic Singer sewing machine, P5,000 from Monteverde Sewing Machine, 1870 Abad Santos St., Sta. Cruz, Manila; Phone: 362 0712;

10. Waste volume of 39,257 tons/day:

24 August 2013

EcoWaste Coalition to Anti-Corruption Crusaders: No Smoking, No Littering in Luneta

(Courtesy of Philippine Star)

An environmental organization that is one with angry citizens in denouncing the anomalous pork barrel system has made an appeal to all who will gather on Monday for the “Million People March”:  “huwag magbaboy:  no smoking, no littering in Luneta”

The EcoWaste Coalition, which has earlier condemned the anomalous use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for ghost projects, asked concerned groups and individuals not to vent their anger against the corruption-ridden pork barrel by dirtying Rizal Park.

“As citizens from all walks of life assemble in Luneta this Monday to plea for truth and accountability, we urge everyone not to defile the historic park with litter,” said Aileen Lucero, Acting National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Our righteous demand to end corruption is not acceptable alibi to turn the park into a dumpsite for cigarette butts, food leftovers and wrappers, plastic bags and even for political leaflets,” she pointed out.

“Let it not be said that pigs disguised as humans came and took control of the park to lambast the rotten  pork barrel, leaving mounds of rubbish all over the area,” she said.

“We should not simply rely on eco-aides and eco-volunteers to clean up our mess.  It’s our collective duty to keep Luneta, a common heritage, tidy and safe,” she said.

“Our quest for clean government is not detached from our struggle for a zero waste and toxics-free nation,” she emphasized.

The EcoWaste Coalition feared a repeat of the massive littering that marred the Christmas celebration in Luneta last December 25, 2012 that attracted some 500,000 people and generated about 50 truckloads of mixed garbage as estimated by the National Parks Development Committee .

Rizal Park, reminded the EcoWaste Coalition, has a “no smoking, no littering” policy that every citizen should respect.

Those caught littering or smoking within the park premises are to pay a fine of P500 or render eight hours' community service for the first offense, P1,000 to 5,000 fine or 16 hours' community service for second offense, and P5,000 to P10,000 fine for the third offense, the group said.
Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, clearly bans the “littering, throwing, dumping of waste matters in public places such as roads, sidewalks, canals, esteros or parks, and establishments,” the EcoWaste Coalition further reminded.

To prevent the “trashing” of Luneta, the EcoWaste Coalition has provided the following practical tips to park visitors:

1.  Carry a personal litter bag or hold on to your rubbish until you have found a bin.

2.  Bring your own drinking water in a refillable water tumbler or jug to minimize buying bottled water.

3. Place your “baon” in recyclable food containers that should be brought home, washed and used again.
4.  Use reusable bags instead of plastic bags for your needs.

5.  Don’t spit, throw chewing gum or toss cigarette filters on the ground.

“Please discourage others from dropping or dumping trash in Luneta or elsewhere as this polluting practice harms the public health and the environment,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.


22 August 2013

Environmentalists Join Public Fury vs. Pork Barrel Scam

(Courtesy of Cebu Daily News)

Environmentalists have joined the rising chorus of discontent and outrage over the multi-billion peso fraudulent use of congressional pork barrel allotments, or what is formally known as the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Amid the loudening pork barrel uproar, the EcoWaste Coalition pushed for the “3 Rs” to ferret out the truth about the humungous pillage of public funds and put the culprits behind bars.

By “3 Rs,” the group was not referring to the ecological mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle,” but to the urgent need to “reveal, rebuke and right” the wrongs of the controversy-ridden pork barrel funds.

“In view of the people’s outcry for truth and accountability, we ask President Aquino and his government to leave no stone unturned and ensure an impartial, speedy and transparent investigation of the scam that will reveal all facts no matter who gets hurt, rebuke the ills of the pork barrel system, and right the injustice by filing cases against all involved and sending thieves to jail,” said Aileen Lucero, Acting National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

Fugitive Janet Lim-Napoles, the trader at the center of the P10-billion pork barrel scandal and her ilk deserve to be tried and jailed for tainting the reputation of non-government organizations (NGOs) who are truly working for the betterment of the country, the environmentalists said.

The environmentalists bemoaned the billions of pesos wasted for ghost projects by bogus NGOs that should have been spent to improve people’s lives, including enforcing the country’s environmental laws.

“Just a fraction of the embezzled pork barrel funds could have been used to implement our major environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act,” said Von Hernandez, Executive Director, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, noting that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources always complains about lack of budget to fully enforce these laws.

The stolen money from PDAF, the environmentalists said, could have been used to implement ecological waste management and other environmental programs to address the nation’s chronic problems with garbage, pollution, flood and disease, including building community recycling and composting facilities as well as climate-resilient disaster evacuation centers.

Various environmentalists have expressed support for the abolition of the corruption-tainted pork barrel system, including Noli Abinales, Roy Alvarez, Betty Cabazares, Justino Cabazares, Jr., Manny Calonzo, Tita Castelo, Ines Fernandez, Von Hernandez, Romy Hidalgo, John Frederick Lauron, Atty. Amang Mejia, Dr. Helen Mendoza, Sonia Mendoza, Esther Pacheco, Rene Pineda, Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Vicky Segovia and Eileen Sison.

“In the same way that we campaign against wastes and toxics so too must we express our outrage at the wanton plunder of taxpayers’ money by the powers that be. As we advocate for a zero waste society, we add our voices to the mounting call for a government free from corruption and deceit,” stated Atty. Mejia.

“Our garbage woes are linked in a very real sense to the misuse and diversion of public funds to line the pockets of politicians and their cohorts. We demand an immediate investigation and prosecution of those involved in stealing the people’s money and a radical overhaul and reorientation, if not, outright abolition of the pork barrel system in order to ensure that it benefits the people and the environment and not just the unscrupulous politicos and their followers,” he added.


Additional Comments from Environmental Leaders re Pork Barrel Scam:

Roy Alvarez of Alaga Lahat: “Pag nawala ang pork, mawawala ang political dynasty, at tunay na public servant lang ang papasok sa pulitika. Malaking bawas sa pagnanakaw sa kaban ng bayan ang pagtatangal ng pork barrel.”

Eileen Sison of the Silang, Cavite-based Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives (IDEAS): “Dapat tanggalin ang pork barrel at dapat ayusin din ang proseso ng paggamit ng pondo ng mga taxpayer nang maging maayos ang pagplano, paglabas at pagbabantay nito. Kailangan
ang transparency of information sa bahagi ng pamahalaan at vigilance sa bahagi ng taumbayan.”

Betty Cabazares of the Davao City-based Kinaiyahan Foundation, quoting Brian Swimme (author of “The Universe Is a Green Dragon”): “Dirty mindscapes produce dirty landscapes; our quest for a clean government and environment will remain an uphill climb unless attitudes and values are changed.”

21 August 2013

EcoWaste Coalition Urges NSWMC to Check on Conditions of Garbage Transfer Stations, Dumpsites and Landfills Following Severe Rains and Floods

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network promoting zero waste and public health, urged national and local governmental agencies to inspect all garbage transfer stations, dumpsites and landfills in Metro Manila and adjacent provinces following intense monsoon rains induced by tropical storm “Maring.”  

The group specifically called on the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), which is under the Office of President Benigno S. Aquino III, to check on the conditions of the accident-prone waste facilities amid the stormy weather.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which chairs the NSWMC, is tasked under Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act,  “to exercise visitorial and enforcement powers to ensure strict compliance with this Act.”  

“The severe rains and floods that hit Metro Manila and 10 provinces across Central and Southern Luzon might have loosened  the mass of garbage, created water pools, damaged leachate collection ponds, weakened retention walls or destroyed the fencing of waste facilities in storm-affected areas,” said Christina Vergara, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“As a precaution against hazardous ‘garbageslides’ and spills waiting to happen, we urge the NSWMC to proactively work with local government units as well as with private operators in assessing the safety of the facilities following the harsh weather situations,” she said.

The EcoWaste Coalition recalled that the Payatas “garbageslide” in Quezon City on July 10, 2000 happened after days of incessant rains, which triggered a 50-foot wall of garbage to cave in and bury hundreds of people alive.

On July 29, 2009, the perimeter wall of the Rodriguez landfill in Rizal Province gave way at the height of typhoon “Kiko” unleashing garbage into a nearby creek.

On August 27, 2011, heavy rains caused the retaining wall of the Irisan dumpsite in Baguio City to crush, killing five people.

As per the NSWMC database, there are 21 “sanitary” landfills, 73 open dumpsites and 36 controlled dumpsites located in  Metro Manila, Region 3 (Central Luzon) and Region 4A (CALABARZON) that are located near or within environmentally-critical areas.

Operating landfills are situated in Norzagaray and San Jose Del Monte City in Bulacan, Santa Rosa in Nueva Ecija, Capas in Tarlac, Trece Martires City in Cavite, Kalayaan, Calamba City and San Pedro City in Laguna, Morong, Rodriguez and San Mateo in Rizal and Navotas City and Quezon City in Metro Manila.

The EcoWaste Coalition emphasized that waste disposal sites, including so-called engineered landfills, can never be fully safe even with costly pollution mitigation devices; hence the need for rigorous maintenance and monitoring.

The group reminded that “today’s state-of-the-art landfills are expected to be threats to groundwater quality for hundreds to thousands of years after closure” as calculated by US environmental health experts.

In lieu of landfills as well as incinerators, the EcoWaste Coalition proposed greater investments on effective programs that will prevent and reduce the  volume and toxicity of society’s discards.

Such programs should include clean production, product redesign, toxics use reduction, reduced packaging, eco-friendly consumption, segregation at source, reuse, recycling and composting, as well as the closure, cleanup and rehabilitation of dumpsites and their replacements with community-driven materials recovery facilities or ecology centers, the group said.

Reference re visitorial and enforcement powers of DENR:

Reference re dumpsites and landfills in Region 3, Region 4A and NCR:

Reference re number of years that state-of-the-art landfills would remain a threat to groundwater quality:
“Three R’s Managed Garbage Protects Groundwater Quality” by G. Fred Lee, P.E. and Anne Jones Lee, Ph.D. (www.gfredlee.com/plandfil2/htm) and “Landfills are Dangerous” by Peter Montague (www.rachel.org)

18 August 2013

EcoWaste Coalition Finds 45 Mercury-Contaminated Sking Whitening Creams On Sale in 9 Cities


(Top: 11 mercury-laden skin whitening cosmetics that the EcoWaste Coalition has recommended for banning; bottom: 45 mercury-tainted cosmetics found by the group in test buys conducted in nine cities.)

Cosmetics that promise to make skin complexion lighter while eliminating acne, age spots, blemishes, freckles and wrinkles may make users and non-users sick due to mercury exposure.

The EcoWaste Coalition made this health warning after finding high levels of mercury in 45 out of 65 samples (69%) of imported skin whitening products representing 32 brands.

“Users of these toxic creams should know that they are putting their own health, as well as the health of the people around them, at risk,” said Aileen Lucero, Acting National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Non-users, especially babies and young children, can be exposed to mercury when they inhale the vapors generated by the products, touch soiled items, kiss or pat a user’s skin and then put their fingers in their mouth,” she said.

The samples, costing P20 to P480 each, were purchased by the group’s AlerToxic Patrollers who scoured beauty product, herbal supplement and Chinese drug stores in Makati, Manila, Parañaque, Pasay and Quezon Cities, and in Dasmariñas, Imus, Cebu and Davao Cities, for these
supposedly skin care goods from July 22 to August 17, 2013.

The samples were analyzed for their mercury content using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, which should not exceed the 1 part per million (ppm) allowable limit under the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive.

Mercury above the permissible limit was detected in 45 samples with the following products topping the list:  1) Yudantang 10 Days Sheep Essence& Ginseng & Green Cucumber Specific Eliminating Freckle Spot & Whitening Sun Block Cream with 41,800 ppm, 2) Yudantang 6 Days Green Cucumber & Ginseng Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Cream with 39,500 ppm, and Hengxueqian Whitening Set with 21,800 of mercury.

Of the 45 mercury-tainted samples, 8 were among the 16 brands banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last July 17, 2013 and 26 were among those banned in 2010, 2011 and  2012.

Of the 45 samples, 11 are not yet included in the list of 93 skin whitening creams banned by the FDA.  The EcoWaste Coalition had recommended their immediate banning to the FDA to safeguard public health. These 11 products and their mercury levels include:

1)  Zhjren Whitening Ruddy Combination Suit, 18,000 ppm
2)  Zhjren 7 Day Beauty Elegant Moisturizing and Whitening Day Cream, 17,200 ppm
3)  Erna Whitening Cream, 6,509 ppm
4)  White Magnolia Intensive Repair Essence Powerful Spot Remover, 3,406 ppm
5)  Jiaoli Speckle Dispelling and Whitening Cream, 3,042
6)  Gemli Freckles Cream, 2,656 ppm
7)  Jiaoli Huichunsu Specific Eliminating Freckle Cream, 2,095 ppm
8)  Feique Herbal Extract Whitening Anti-Freckle Set, 1,869 ppm
9)  Angel Placenta Whitening Cream, 1,369 ppm
10) Sanli Eliminating Freckle Cream, 1,240 ppm
11) LMSER Whitening Cream, 423 ppm

While negative for mercury, most of the other 20 samples (like the 45 mercury positive ones) have no market authorization from the FDA and excluded in the agency’s “list of notified cosmetic products.”

These include Baschi Day and Night Cream (mini trial set), Baschi Whitening Cream, Erna SPF (beige color), Erna SPF (pink ceramic color), Royalsuffi Fade-Out Day Cream, Top Shirley Nourishing Cream, Yi Lu Mei Activating Pock-Removing Beautifying Essence, Yu Yan
Excellent Intensive Night Cream and several types of Yoko Whitening Cream.

According to a Health Alert issued by the California Department of Health,“inorganic mercury in face cream is absorbed following application to the skin and toxic levels in the body can develop
gradually with prolonged use.”

The target organs for toxic effects are the central nervous system and kidneys, it said.

Signs and symptoms of mild to moderate toxicity due to inorganic mercury may include nervousness and irritability, difficulty with concentration, headache, tremors, memory loss, depression, insomnia, weight loss, fatigue and numbness or tingling in hands, feet, or
around the lips, it further said.

The EcoWaste Coalition had already alerted the FDA about its latest findings via e-mail.




15 August 2013

Public Urged to Take Precaution against Mercury Exposure following Fabella Spill

(Photo by Rene H. Dilan, Manila Times)

One week after the lamentable mercury spill at the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, a waste and pollution  watchdog urged the general public to be mindful of the other mercury  spills that might be happening right under their noses.

In a bid to encourage the public to be more safety-conscious, the  EcoWaste Coalition called for increased citizens’ alertness on  potential sources of exposure to mercury at home and the community and the need for preventive action to safeguard human and ecological health.

Studies have shown that exposures to mercury, a toxic element, can permanently harm the  brain and nervous system, as well as damage the heart, kidneys, liver  and lungs and weaken the immune system; hence the necessity to keenly observe essential precautionary measures.  

“Aside from avoiding fish or shellfish contaminated with mercury, we need to be on the lookout for other ways by which we can be exposed to mercury such as through mercury-added products,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

"By keeping ourselves informed and alert, we can prevent and reduce the adverse effects of mercury exposure to our health and that of the environment," he said.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), "the use of mercury in products can lead to releases of the metal during manufacture, usage, recycling and disposal."

The group, which is running a campaign on toxic chemicals in products,cited a few examples as to how mercury is inadvertently spilled due to the improper usage, recycling and disposal of mercury-added articles such as fluorescent light bulbs, skin whitening cosmetics and measuring devices.

For instance, mercury as vapor in the glass tubing is released when new or used mercury-containing lights such as circline, compact and linear fluorescent lamps are broken, or when busted lamps are crushed during waste collection and informal recycling activities.
Inorganic mercury in some skin bleaching or whitening creams, lotions and soaps, on the other hand, is absorbed through their application to the skin and the inhalation of mercury vapor caused by such cosmetics, which can expose even non-users to mercury.
While elemental or metallic mercury in fever thermometers and other measuring gadgets is spilled when the device breaks, exposing the toxic silvery substance and making it evaporate and turn to a vapor.
To prevent and reduce mercury releases that can build up in fish,wildlife and people, the EcoWaste Coalition echoed UNEP's call for "transitioning away from mercury-containing products to mercury-free alternatives."
The group also urged the public to responsibly handle and store products laden with mercury and to correctly dispose of mercury-containing discards as hazardous waste that should not be mixed with ordinary trash, dumped or burned.
The group likewise urged citizens to follow basic safety procedures for cleaning up mercury spills as recommended by health and environmental authorities.
To guide the public, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated the following “What Never to Do after a Mercury Spill” as prescribed by the US Environmental  Protection Agency:
1. “Never use a vacuum cleaner to clean up mercury. The vacuum will put mercury into the air and increase exposure.”
2.”Never use a broom to clean up mercury. It will break the mercury into smaller droplets and spread them.”
3.”Never pour mercury down a drain. It may lodge in the plumbing and cause future problems during plumbing repairs. If discharged, it can
cause pollution of the septic tank or sewage treatment plant.”

4.”Never wash clothing or other items that have come in direct contact with mercury in a washing machine, because mercury may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage. Clothing that has come into direct contact with mercury should be discarded.”
5. “Never walk around if your shoes might be contaminated with mercury.”

11 August 2013

EcoWaste Coalition Warns Consumers vs. Mercury, Lead and Arsenic in Some Lipsticks

(Lipsticks with arsenic, lead and mercury levels above the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive's limits.)  

An environmental and health watchdog has cautioned the public against secret chemicals lurking in lipsticks that consumers, particularly women, fondly use to have rosy, luscious and alluring lips.

Based on the chemical analysis conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition on 45 samples of lipsticks representing 22 brands, 13 (29%) were found to have trace amounts of hazardous chemical ingredients and impurities that exceeded the limits of 5 parts per million (ppm) for arsenic, 20 ppm for lead and 1 ppm for mercury under the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive.

“Arsenic, lead and mercury are some of the chemicals of high concern that should be eliminated from usage, especially in consumer products, to prevent and reduce their adverse effects to human health and the environment,” said Aileen Lucero, Acting National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Pregnant or lactating women may expose developing foetuses and infants to the risk of toxic metals poisoning when they use these tainted products,” she warned.

Lucero lamented that babies are born pre-polluted as indicated by studies showing nearly 300 contaminants in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies, including agricultural and industrial toxins, waste incineration by-products and chemicals commonly used in cosmetics, personal care and household products.

The samples, costing P8-P50 were purchased on August 9 and 10 from retailers in Quiapo, Manila, including Carriedo Center, G2 Beauty Products, Isetann Department Store, Kafen Beauty Shop and Manila City Plaza, and analyzed using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer.

Arsenic was detected in 34 samples with seven lipsticks exceeding the 5 ppm limit: Baolishi #20 (yellow canister) had 386 ppm; Baolishi #20 (green canister), 343 ppm; Baolishi #8, 211 ppm; Shijing #39, 6.9 ppm; Ling Mei #12, 6.2 ppm; Miss Beauty #11 with Vitamin C, 6.1 ppm; and Baolishi #25, 5.9 ppm.

Lead above the 20 ppm limit was found in four products: Baolishi #20 (yellow canister) had 16,700 ppm; Baolishi #20 (green canister), 13,900 ppm; Baolishi #8, 6,324 ppm; and Baolishi #37, 126 ppm.

Mercury higher than the 1 ppm limit was discovered in eight samples: Baolishi #20 (yellow canister) had 343 ppm; Ling Mei #12, 180 ppm; Luoys Paris #5, 61.4 ppm; Baolishi #20 (green canister), 51 ppm; Popa Italy 3 in 1, 40.2 ppm; L’Oreal #209 (presumably counterfeit), 5.3 ppm; Heng Fang #8, 5.1 ppm; and Miss Beauty #6, 3.7 ppm.

Moreover, Baolishi #25 had 2,395 ppm of cadmium, while barium in the range of 590 ppm to 16,000 ppm was detected in 33 samples.

Chromium was likewise detected in seven samples from 23 ppm to 3,523 ppm, as well as selenium in five samples from 5.7 ppm to 208 ppm.

The EcoWaste Coalition emphasized that cosmetics manufacturers must ensure that their products do not present any risk to consumer health, including the health of the unborn babies, and that toxic metals and other chemicals of concern should be replaced with non-hazardous substitutes in line with the precautionary and preventive principles.

Exposures to toxic metals, the group warned, have been linked to number of serious health problems such as reproductive defects, developmental maladies, neurological and behavioral difficulties, endocrine disorders and cancer.

In addition, the group asked manufacturers to respect the consumer right to information by fully disclosing their product ingredients as well as impurities on the labels.

The group also urged the government to work for the revision of the ASEAN’s limits for heavy metals in cosmetics to provide a higher level of protection to vulnerable groups such as children and women of child-bearing age.

For instance, revising the 20 ppm lead limit in cosmetics to 0.1 ppm – the US FDA’s maximum lead level in candy – will be a wise move since lipstick may be ingested by curious and playful children.

“This will further hammer home the point that cosmetics should be safe from toxic metals and other contaminants and that manufacturers should switch to clean production,” Lucero said.


http://www.fda.gov.ph/industry-corner/downloadables/197-asean-cosmetic-harmonization(please click “ASEAN Heavy Metal Limit”)

08 August 2013

EcoWaste Coalition Welcomes Government's Effort to Put in Force Ban on Toxic Silver Jewelry Cleaner

A toxics watchdog welcomed the impending issuance of a new measure that will hopefully make cyanide poisoning via silver jewelry cleaner (SJC) ingestion a thing of the past.

The EcoWaste Coalition lauded the effort of the Department of Health (DOH) to come up with a common policy with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Interior and Local Government(DILG) to enforce the ban on the illegal sale of deadly SJC.

The tri-agency Administrative Order entitled “Ban on Silver-Jewelry Cleaning Solution-Containing Cyanide and Other Toxic Substances” was already signed by DOH Sec. Enrique T. Ona and forwarded to the offices of DENR Sec. Ramon J.P.  Paje and DILG Sec. Manuel A. Roxas II for their signatures.

Through the A.O., the lead departments will “formulate specific guidelines to reduce morbidity/mortality associated with accidental and intentional poisoning of silver-jewelry cleaning agent.”  

Toxicologists have identified SJC as one of the top 10 toxicants that has poisoned and, in numerous cases, killed Filipinos due to the unintended and intended ingestion of this cyanide-containing liquid.

“Thirsty kids have mistaken SJC for water, while teenagers and adults in the depths of despair have drunk it causing instant death,” Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.  

“The tri-agency A.O. will surely help in strengthening the coordination among the three departments and thus result to a more resolute action to combat the unlawful trade of cyanide-laced SJC with the support of the civil society, the industry and the public,” he said.

“The local government and police units, which are under the DILG, will have an essential role to play in implementing this vital public health and environmental measure,” he further said.      

Under the said A.O., the DILG will have two major responsibilities:

a. Issue the necessary memorandum circular enjoining local government executives (LGEs) to  support this endeavor with a counterpart local ordinance effecting the same in their areas of jurisdiction.”

b. “Direct the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies under its jurisdiction to effect the confiscation of illegal, unregistered and unlabeled silver jewelry cleaners solution/agents sold in commercial establishments such as jewelry shops and other retail outlets and ambulant vendors.”

The EcoWaste Coalition expressed hope that the DOH-DENR-DILG A.O. will be released soon to stop the unrelenting trade of banned cyanide SJC.

A market surveillance conducted by the group last August 3 in Divisoria found one street vendor in Recto Ave. selling silver jewelries as well as unlabeled SJC worth P20 per bottle despite the government’s ban.