21 November 2019, Quezon City. The proposed ordinance filed by Baguio City Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan banning wet wipes laced with harmful ingredients has elicited support among environmental health advocates.
At the public consultation convened by the Committee on Market, Trade, Commerce and Agriculture chaired by Councilor Philian Weygan Allan, Quezon City-based EcoWaste Coalition (a non-government organization) affirmed that the said measure will protect consumers, particularly babies, who are prone to allergic reactions and other side effects caused by certain chemical preservatives banned in wet wipes.
“The use of wet wipes containing banned substances may result to allergic contact dermatitis, an itchy rash, on the very sensitive skin of babies,” warned Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition who came to Baguio City for the said consultation.
“Adopting and enforcing the ordinance will hopefully stop the sale in Baguio City of these non-compliant wet wipes that could put the health of babies at risk,” he said.
In his presentation before the consultation participants, Dizon explained that wet wipes for cleansing or moisturizing the skin such as baby wipes are regulated as cosmetics by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Under Republic Act 9711, or the FDA Act of 2009, manufacturers, importers, distributors and sellers of cosmetic products, including wet wipes, are required to file the necessary cosmetic product notification so that the agency can perform quality and safety verification before the product is sold in the market, Dizon said.
Using cosmetics without the required notification “may pose potential health hazards,” according to the FDA, adding “potential hazards may come from ingredients that are not allowed to be part of a cosmetic product.”
Among the ingredients not allowed in wet wipes as per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive are chemical preservatives such as Benzylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Isopropylparaben, Pentylparaben, Phenylparaben, and Methylisothiazolinone (MIT).
“After a reasonable grace period, the ban on the use of five parabens in cosmetics took effect on January 1, 2016. while the ban on MIT for leave-on cosmetics commenced on 1 September 2018,” said Dizon.
Manufacturers, importers and distributors of wet wipes containing banned ingredients are required by law to recall their products by the end of the grace period.
“Sadly, wet wipes containing these banned ingredients are still sold in the market,” Dizon lamented.
Dizon concluded his presentation by offering the following practical tips to prevent children’s exposure to known skin sensitizers.
a. Use lukewarm water, mild soap and cotton balls for cleaning baby’s bottom and only use wet wipes when water is not available.
b. Read the product label carefully and shun those that include banned ingredients.
c. Reject products that do not list their ingredients and do not have an expiry date.
d. Look for alcohol-free and unscented wet wipes.
e. To cut the chances of an allergy, refrain from using wet wipes for cleaning the baby’s hands, mouth and other body parts.
f. After using wet wipes, rinse with water to get rid of chemical residues and reduce the risk of skin allergies.
He likewise advised consumers not to flush used wet wipes or throw them on streets or canals as these may block the drainage and sewer systems, clog anti-flood pumping stations, ruin wastewater pumps, and aggravate the plastic pollution of water bodies and the oceans
FDA Advisory re 5 banned parabens
FDA Advisory re Methylisothiazolinone