Manila Barangay Bans Breaking of Mercury-Containing Lamp Waste

A barangay in Tondo, Manila has taken a decisive action to protect recyclers and residents from toxic pollution caused by the deliberate breaking of fluorescent lamps containing mercury.

Resolution 11-25 adopted yesterday, November 7, by leaders of Barangay 105, Zone 8, District 1 will prohibit the breaking of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and other mercury-containing lamps in the area, a recognized hub of informal recycling in Metro Manila.

“The practice of breaking lamps directly exposes informal recyclers and the entire community, especially young children, to mercury vapor pollution,” the resolution said.

Mercury is highly toxic and, ifingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin, can damage the brain and the central nervous system and cause other serious diseases.

Mercury as vapor is released into the environment when the glass tubing of compact, linear and fluorescent lamps and other mercury-containing lamps is broken accidentally or intentionally as in the case of manual lamp recycling by informal recyclers.

To discourage the unsafe practice of breaking fluorescent bulbs to retrieve recyclable materials, junk shop operators in the area will be prohibited from buying aluminum and copper obtained from the improper recycling of mercury-containing lamps.

The resolution will take effect one month after its adoption, or on December 7.

Kagawad Marlene Tumbokon, Committee Chairperson on Health, proposed the resolution that was backed by Chairman Luisito Reyes, Kagawad Zenaida Aceveda, Kagawad Dan Aliman, Kagawad Federico Conde, Kagawad Maribel Cruz and Kagawad Valentin Vinas, and attested by Secretary Conrado Flores “to safeguard the public health and the environment from toxic pollutants.”

A“toxic investigation” conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition and other environmental health groups in April 2011 detected high levels of mercury vapor in Sitio Damayan where busted CFLs are manually broken with hammer to remove recyclable materials.

The resolution also directed the Barangay Council to collaborate with the City Government and the EcoWaste Coalition in conducting public information and education activities about mercury and other toxic chemicals, including their health and environmental hazards.

Recognizing their limited capacity, the Barangay Council further moved to seek the advice and assistance of concerned national and city government agencies regarding the environmentally-sound management of mercury-containing lamp waste.

The EcoWaste Coalition has lauded the decision by the leadership of Barangay 105, describing it as a “historic” public health action.

“It’s a historic move by barangay leaders to protect the health of their constituents, including the many informal recyclers of electronic waste in the area,” said Manny Calonzo, EcoWaste Coalition’s Steering Committee member who attended the Barangay Council meeting.

“We hope that the barangay action will accelerate ongoing efforts by the government, the lamp industry and the civil society to put in place a practical collection system for busted lamps and the availability of safe and non-polluting storage and recycling facilities for lamp waste,” Calonzo said.


1 Comment

  • Maganda ang naging decision nila tungkol sa ecological threat na ito. Many of us are not informed of the hazards of mercury that are found inside our CFL bulbs.

    I hope other barangays can do the same. Kailangan lang ng proper information para ma-implement ang ganitong ordinance sa buong bansa. Starting at the baranggay level is the best place for such advocacy.