“We are deeply alarmed by the unhindered use of hazardous chemicals in stuff that we find in the market today, many of them are reproductive and developmental toxins, carcinogenic and toxic to the brain,” Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, said.
“Consumers need to be adequately informed and protected against health and environmental toxicants in production processes, products and disposal practices that are harmful to humans, wildlife, environment and the climate,” Calonzo stressed.
With the public health and safety in mind, the EcoWaste Coalition, an active network of some 75 public interest groups, has launched a project called “ChemSafe,” which is short for “Enhancing Consumer Knowledge and Action towards Chemical Safety.”
The project seeks 1) to empower consumers to make informed decisions that will protect them from the adverse effects of toxic chemicals, and 2) to strengthen the capacity of the civil society to address chemical safety issues and concerns using the Strategic Approach on International Chemicals Management (SAICM) Global Plan of Action as reference.
The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC), the largest and most influential environmental organization in Sweden, is supporting the said project under its small grant program on toxic chemicals.
“We are impressed by EcoWaste’s work. By starting this global collaboration on toxic chemicals we will strengthen civil society to the benefit of public health and the environment, in the Philippines and elsewhere,” said Mikael Karlsson, President of SSNC.
According to the EcoWaste Coalition, the presence of hazardous chemicals in food, water, child care articles, toys, school supplies, household items, cosmetics, computers and other products present factual risks and hazards that consumers must know and be really concerned about.
The group noted that Republic Act 7394 or the Consumer Protection Act of 1992 has been unsuccessful in protecting consumers from the onslaught of goods containing hazardous chemicals that can afflict humans and animals alike with toxic body burdens, while polluting the overall surroundings.
In launching the ChemSafe, the EcoWaste Coalition hopes to make available to the general public accurate and intelligible information on injurious industrial chemicals such as those that are known to be persistent (or remaining in human bodies and the environment for long periods of time), bioaccumulative (building up in animal and human tissue) and toxic (causing serious harm to the health and life of living organisms).
Aside from disseminating fact sheets, posters and other information materials, the EcoWaste Coalition will carry out popular education activities to explain the risks and hazards of priority chemicals and draw support for the application of precaution, prevention and substitution to prevent exposure to toxic harm. A national workshop is also being envisaged on the topic “Chemical Safety: Protecting the Filipino Consumers from Toxic Harm.”
Some of the chemicals in the EcoWaste Coalition’s priority list include arsenic, lead, chromium and mercury and other heavy metals, dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls and other persistent organic pollutants, and phthalates.
“Through ChemSafe, we hope to add value to the shared responsibility and work of empowering the Filipino consumers, especially the most vulnerable groups, with essential information to make sound choices and actions towards chemical safety and environmental health,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.
The children, elderly, pregnant women, farmers, workers, waste pickers and other informal recyclers are widely recognized as most susceptible to the adverse effects of exposure to toxic chemicals.
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