At the same time, the waste and pollution watchdog urges all Filipinas to insist on their right to toxics-free products and to a healthy environment to safeguard their bodies and their capacity to bear, nourish and sustain life.
“This year, we ask the government to pay serious attention on eliminating toxic chemicals in household, childcare, cosmetic and other products commonly used by women consumers,” retired nurse Elsie Brandes-De Veyra said on behalf of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Steering Committee that boasts 7 active women on its 12-member board.
“We are particularly keen to see the adoption and implementation of all-embracing reforms in the country’s policy on chemicals that will ban the use of substances in products that pose hazards to women’s reproductive health,” De Veyra emphasized.
The EcoWaste Coalition is primarily concerned about the continued use of industrial chemicals called endocrine or hormone disruptors that are known to interfere with the bodies’ natural hormone systems, disrupting hormonal balances and causing major health issues like early puberty, infertility, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, breast cancer and others.
Some of the more notorious hormone disruptors found in various products include 1) bisphenol A in baby feeding bottles, sports bottles and in the linings of infant formula and canned foods, 2) phthalates in toys, cosmetics and medical devices, and 3) polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) used
as flame retardant in electrical appliances, textiles, plastic foams and other products.
“We will continue to be at the mercy of the chemical industry unless we as women consumers voice out our concerns,’ observed Tanya Conlu who coordinates the EcoWaste Coalition’s chemical safety project.
“We therefore call on all women to assert our essential right to toxics-free goods and to have access to chemical information that will equip us in making sound choices, including a product’s chemical ingredients, health effects and eco-disposal,” she added.
The EcoWaste Coalition explains that women are very vulnerable to toxic chemicals because many of these chemicals, including heavy metals, persistent organic pollutants and other chemicals of concern, get stored in fat cells. Women carry more fat cells due to their childbearing and breastfeeding functions, making them more at risk to lipophilic or fat-liking chemicals.
The EcoWaste Coalition, which has been campaigning for chemical safety, lamented that very few of the chemicals we live with have been tested for long-term effects on human health and the environment.
“Few of us are hardly aware of the toxic chemicals in the food we eat, the air we breathe, the personal care products we apply on our bodies and the electronics we use. It is ‘toxic as usual’ until we get scary reports like melamine in milk, dioxins in cheese, or lead in flip-flops, toys and lipstick,” the EcoWaste Coalition noted.
“For the sake of our people’s health, we urge the government to initiate comprehensive policy reforms, that will proactively protect, particularly our women and girls, from being exposed to harmful chemicals,” the group further said.
Such reforms, stressed the EcoWaste Coalition, will be in line with the spirit and intent of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), a global framework of action adopted by over 100 governments, including the Philippines, to protect human health and the environment from toxic chemicals.
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