Bishop Iñiguez seeks action vs. deadly silver jewelry cleaners

A Catholic Bishop has lauded the ban imposed by health and environment agencies on silver jewelry cleaners containing cyanide and other dangerous chemicals.

Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr. of the Diocese of Kalookan joined the EcoWaste Coalition in welcoming the much-sought ban on cleaning solutions for tarnished jewelry that may contain cyanide, thiourea and other substances of concern.

“I’m happy that the government has finally heeded our plea to prohibit the sale of toxic silver cleaners that has already claimed so many lives, including those of innocent children,” he said.

“The next step is to actively enforce the ban,” the bishop pointed out.

“We cannot expect accidental and suicidal ingestion of silver cleaner to cease if the ban will not be fully enforced nationwide,” he stated.

“For the safety of human lives and the environment, please ensure that the ban is faithfully complied with and the violators duly prosecuted,” Bishop Iñiguez told the authorities.

Bishop Iñiguez in July 2009 called attention to the increasing use of toxic silver cleaners as a suicide potion, which he described as “an act of violence against oneself.”

“We are all made in God’s image and likeness, so we must strive to glorify Him in our bodies and protect, not harm, ourselves from health-damaging substances like cyanide,” he said.

The University of the Philippines – National Poison Management and Control Center (UPNPMCC) and the East Avenue Medical Center – Poison Control Unit have classified silver jewelry cleaners as one of the top three toxicants, or poison agents, for patients admitted in the last two years.

Acute poisoning occurs through ingestion, inhalation and dermal absorption where cyanide is rapidly absorbed in the body and blocks utilization of oxygen in all organs.

Citing information from the UPNPMCC, the EcoWaste Coalition lamented that in 2009 alone 11 Filipinos (three from adult age group and eight from pediatric age group) died out of the 235 cases of silver cleaner poisoning handled or referred to the PGH-based group.

From January to September 2010, 11 have already died (6 adults and 5 children).

More recent data show that between July to September 2010, 57 of the 68 in-patient admissions and telephone referrals managed by the UPNPMCC were due to non-accidental ingestion of silver cleaners, or 84% of the cases handled.

The UPNPMCC also reported a dramatic increase in the non-accidental intake of silver cleaners, which rose from 7% in 2005 to 86% in 2009.


EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846