For the nth time, the EcoWaste Coalition reminded civilian and police authorities to exercise utmost environmental responsibility in handling television sets seized from illegal gambling operators.
The toxics watchdog hinted that local government and police officials may be inadvertently putting themselves and other people in harm’s way for every television that is unsuitably destroyed with sledgehammer.
“The intent of ensuring that sequestered TV sets are not reused for unlawful gambling activities is good, but it should not be done at the expense of public health that is already bearing the brunt of chemical releases from discarded electronics and other contaminated wastes,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
TVs, especially old analog TV units used in illegal gambling ventures, contain huge quantities of chemicals of concern such as lead, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, copper and mercury, and flame retardant chemicals such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers
The group reiterated its concern after learning that several units of “video karera” and “fruit game” TVs were destroyed following the turnover of command at the Caloocan City Police last October 1 that top officials of the city and the Philippine National Police (PNP) attended.
Mayor Enrico Echiverri of Caloocan City and Chief Supt. Leonardo Espina of the PNP National Capital Regional Office led the manual destruction of the confiscated TV sets.
Engr. Geri Geronimo R. Sañez, a government specialist on hazardous waste, has warned that “breaking the TVs will let loose their lead and other health-damaging chemical contents.”
“The TVs are better sent to government-accredited facilities for proper recycling that will minimize environmental pollution,” advised Sañez, who is the Chief of the Hazardous Waste Management Section of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).
In a text message to the EcoWaste Coalition, Sañez particularly cited the need for environmentally-sound management of electronic waste or e-waste generated from households and communities, so as to minimize the formation and discharge of persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
Some of the POPs released from the unsafe recycling, dumping and burning of e-waste, include dioxins, furans and brominated flame retardant chemicals that can cause adverse health effects to workers, residents and even to people who live far away since POPs can travel vast distances and persist for long periods in the environment.
At the recent International Conference on Chemicals Management held in Nairobi, Kenya on September 17-21, government, industry and civil society participants, including EMB representatives, adopted a resolution encouraging stakeholders to consider taking further action to enhance the environmentally sound management of hazardous substances in the life cycle of e-products, including e-waste.