21 March 2018

Group Asks Metro Manila LGUs and Residents to Stop Garbage Disposal in Waterways

 Estero de la Reina, Tondo, Manila, 18 March 2018
Honorio Lopez Bridge, Tondo, Manila, 18 March 2018

A waste and pollution watch group exhorted Metro Manila’s 17 local government units (LGUs) and the region’s almost 13 million residents to prevent illegal garbage disposal in waterways.

The EcoWaste Coalition made the earnest appeal as the 14th anniversary of Republic Act 9275, or the Clean Water Act, and 25th year of the World Water Day are both observed tomorrow, March 22.

The group aimed its appeal to the densely populated national capital region, which generates 9,213 tons of garbage per day or nearly one-fourth of the 40,087 tons of the daily waste generation nationwide.

“March 22 is doubly significant because it coincides with the annual World Water Day and the 14th year of the Clean Water Act since it was approved in 2004,” said Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We hope national and local authorities will seize the occasion to draw support from all sectors in the uphill task of protecting our water and water ecosystems against pollution, particularly from irresponsible trash disposal, which is essential to realizing improved quality of life,” he said.

To mark the occasion, the EcoWaste Coalition highlighted the need for all LGUs and  waste generators to stop improper disposal practices in water bodies that persist despite clean-up efforts by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and concerned LGUs.

“While some of the 273 esteros in Metro Manila like the Estero de Paco have been declogged and rehabilitated, many of the region’s waterways remain polluted with garbage and other pollutants,"  Alejandre observed.

“It is apparent that compliance to the anti-dumping provisions of the Clean Water Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act is still unsatisfactory and has to improve,” he added.

The Clean Water Act prohibits the “discharging, depositing or causing to be deposited material of any kind into the water bodies… which could cause water pollution or impede natural flow in the water body.”  Fines range from P10,000 to P200,000 for every day of violation.

The Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, on the other hand, bans the “dumping of waste matters in public places such as roads, sidewalks, canals, esteros or parks.”  Violators shall be fined P300 to P1,000, or be required to render one to 15-day community service, or both.

To promote strict compliance to these laws, the EcoWaste Coalition urged LGUs to review and strengthen the implementation of their respective Water Quality Management Action Plans and Local Government Solid Waste Management Plans.

The group specifically sought immediate LGU action to stop the practice of allowing garbage dumps on streets and even on top or near bridges where unsorted discards are deposited before being hauled by trucks to disposal facilities.

“The proliferation of such dumps violates the law banning the dumping of waste matters in public places, as well as defeats the government’s ongoing drive to get all dumpsites closed and rehabilitated,” Alejandre emphasized.

To date, 383 open dumpsites and 177 controlled dumpsites continue to operate all over the country posing serious threats to community health and environment, especially to the soil and surface and ground water.



19 March 2018

Toxics Watch Group Cautions the Public vs Disposal of CRTs on Sidewalks and Dumps (Group Raises Alarm over Improper Disposal of Toxic TV and Computer CRTs)

The indiscriminate dumping of the glass video component of old television or computer monitor on the street poses hazards to public health and the environment and should be avoided.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental health organization, aired this warning after finding discarded cathode ray tubes (CRTs) abandoned on the sidewalks or street dumps, particularly in Makati and Manila Cities.

"The CRTs of old-style TVs and computer monitors are laden with huge amounts of lead and other hazardous chemicals. If handled and disposed of without care, the glass panel, which is lined with lead, will break and contaminate the surroundings," said Primo Morillo, E-Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Aside from lead, CRTs contain a host of other chemicals of concern, including antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, cadmium, mercury, nickel phosphor, and rare earth metals, which can be discharged into the environment if the CRTs are recklessly left out on the street or dumped elsewhere.

Lead, in particular, is a cumulative toxicant that can damage the nervous, blood, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, renal and reproductive systems in humans, and is considered one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern” by the World Health Organization. 

"Careless handling and disposal will cause the lead and other toxic components of a CRT to be released out of the tube, polluting the air, water and soil.  This is why we cannot simply throw CRTs on the side of the road. Like any other electronic waste, or e-waste, CRTs must be managed in an environmentally sound manner," he said.

Morillo also added that even the plastic casings of old TVs contain highly toxic chemicals. He explained, “CRTs form part of the country’s growing e-waste containing extremely toxic substances such as the polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) on CRTs’ plastic casings.  PBDEs, which are used as flame retardants in electric and electronic equipment, are among the newly listed chemicals targeted for global elimination under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) of which the Philippines is a state party.”

"To prevent their hazardous contents from polluting the air that we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat, we need to keep CRTs and other e-waste safely handled, stored, recycled, or disposed of,” Morillo emphasized.

“Breaking, dismantling and recycling CRTs in uncontrolled conditions, and causing their disposal on the streets, creeks, dumps and landfills are dangerous for waste workers and communities, and is, in fact, illegal,” he added.

Morillo also noted that the government through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is undertaking a project that will ensure the safe disposal through encapsulation of some 225 tons of leaded glass panels from about 50,000 CRT monitors.

Supported by the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the said project seeks the safe management of some 1.15 tons of PBDEs in CRTs, as well as 600 tons of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) oil and PCB-contaminated electric transformers.

“To curb pollution and protect human health, we need to improve public awareness of the negative impacts of the unsafe disposal of e-waste and support policies and programs towards the environmentally sound management of this growing waste stream,” Morillo concluded. 




Photos of Discarded CRTs on Streets and Dumps

(Please click the photo to see where and when it was taken.)

13 March 2018

EcoWaste Coalition Finds Counterfeit MAC Lipsticks Contaminated with Lead (Group Warns Consumers vs Lead-Tainted Fake MAC Lipsticks)

Lead-tainted fake MAC lipsticks
Counterfeit MAC lipsticks sold for P25-60 each by retailers of imitation cosmetics in Divisoria's bargain shopping malls.
Consumer beware: That cheap, high-end MAC lipstick that you bought in Divisoria could be loaded with lead, a dangerous chemical.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit toxics watch group, aired its latest warning against poison lipsticks after detecting lead up to 22,700  parts per million (ppm) in 11 samples of unbelievably cheap MAC lipsticks costing only P25 to P60 each .

Following the recent issuance by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last March 5 of a public health advisory against the use of counterfeit MAC lipsticks, the EcoWaste Coalition went to Divisoria to obtain samples from retailers of imitation cosmetics at 168 Shopping Mall, 999 Shopping Mall and Divisoria Shopping Mall.

The FDA had warned that counterfeit products pose potential health hazards due to the contamination of heavy metals such as lead and mercury or from other ingredients that are not permitted in cosmetic formulations.

“The results of our investigation confirm that lead is lurking in some fake MAC lipsticks, posing health risks to consumers, especially to women,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.  

“Lead accumulates in the human body over time so the repeated application of a lipstick laced with lead, even at low amounts, can end up as a significant exposure for women,” he explained.

“Consumers who go to Divisoria and other bargain hubs to get high-end imitation beauty products may actually be buying poison cosmetics,” he warned.

Lead exposure in women may result in hormonal changes, menstrual irregularities, infertility, miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, pregnancy hypertension, and premature birth, Dizon added.

Out of the 27 MAC lipsticks bought and analyzed, 11  were found to contain lead above the maximum limit of 20 ppm set under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.  A handheld X-Ray Fluorescence analyzer was used to screen the samples for lead.

Among those found contaminated with lead were MAC  Mariah Carey #01 with 22,700 ppm lead;  MAC Zac Posen Rudy Woo #12, 10,100 ppm lead; MAC Zac Posen Kinda Sexy #14, 4,505 ppm lead; MAC Zac Posen Girl About Town, #08, 4,215 ppm lead; MAC High Society,  197 ppm lead; MAC Nouvelle Vogue, 187 ppm lead; and MAC Fireworks #A16 with 55 ppm lead. 

Traces of mercury were also detected in two samples.

While negative for lead and mercury, the other 14 samples may not be entirely safe to use as these may contain other chemical and microbial contaminants that can harm human health, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

To prevent exposure to lead and other contaminants in lipstick, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to consider the following safety tips:

--- Verify if the item has the required cosmetic product notification through the FDA website (www.fda.gov.ph).

--- Buy from authorized retailers and ask for an official receipt.

--- If the price looks too good to be true, the product is most likely a counterfeit.

--- Use less, especially if the product is not guaranteed as lead-free.

----Don’t let children play with lipstick.

According to the company, “MAC Cosmetics does not offer its products through individuals, street vendors, flea markets, Internet auctions, independent boutiques or unauthorized online retailers.”




12 March 2018

Groups Seek Stronger Protection for Online Shoppers against Adulterated and Dangerous Goods


Non-government consumer and environmental protection groups have raised their voices against the proliferation of adulterated and dangerous products in e-commerce sites stressing online shoppers must be adequately protected.

Through a joint statement issued ahead of the World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) on March 15, Laban Konsyumer, Inc. and the EcoWaste Coalition lamented that shopping online can be hazardous to human health and the environment if effective controls are not put in place to keep tainted products out of e-commerce sites.

Organized by Consumers International, the annual WCRD provides a platform for raising global awareness of consumer rights and needs.  “Making Digital Marketplaces Fairer” is the theme for this year’s celebration.

“The fast growth of digital technologies has allowed consumers to shop online anywhere and anytime.  With the ever-present mobile phones and other e-devices, consumers now have easy access to an extensive range of goods or services with just the touch of a button,” said Atty. Vic Dimagiba, President, Laban Konsyumer, Inc.

“But not all things being sold online are created equal.  Just like in offline shopping, consumers need to be on their guard against adulterated, counterfeit, mislabeled and poor quality products that may pose health and safety risks.  The risks are real, so regulatory agencies and e-commerce sites need to take greater measures to protect consumers from online cheats and unfair business practices,” he said.

Chemical Safety Campaigner Thony Dizon of the EcoWaste Coalition echoed Dimagiba’s plea for stronger online protection emphasizing the vulnerability of online shoppers to fall prey to false advertising and labeling claims and to bogus and hazardous goods.

“The online sale of goods such as cosmetic and wellness products with banned, controlled or undeclared ingredients is a serious matter as the consumption of such products may result to acute or chronic poisoning that can have adverse health effects, especially to women and children,” he said.

Dizon cited as an example the online sale of skin bleaching or lightening products that may contain mercury, hydroquinone or tretinoin.

Mercury, according to the ASEAN Post-Marketing Alert System (ASEAN PMAS) on adulterated cosmetics, is a heavy metal that is known to be severely hazardous to health even in small amounts.  Nursing mothers are doubly vulnerable because mercury is passed on to nursing babies through breast milk that can affect the baby’s development.

Hydroquinone and tretinoin are classified as drugs in the Philippines due to their multiple serious adverse effects, including sensitivity to light, skin redness and permanent skin discoloration, when used indiscriminately, according to the ASEAN PMAS.

Health experts have warned that using products with hydroquinone and tretinoin during pregnancy may harm the developing fetus.

Laban Konsyumer, Inc. and the EcoWaste Coalition are one with Consumers International in pushing for fairer and safer digital marketplaces that will be beneficial for all.