The toxics watchdog appealed for urgent enforcement action after obtaining bottles of illegal silver cleaner in test buys conducted by the group’s AlerToxic Patrol on June 28 – July 1, 2012 in five cities in Metro Manila.
“The unlawful trade of cyanide-laced silver cleaning agents has not stopped and so are the deadly poisoning incidents involving the weak and the poor. We appeal to the authorities to firmly get to the bottom of this problem and bring the senseless killings to a close,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
The unregistered and improperly labeled silver cleaning products are sold from P30 to P150 in some silver jewelry shops in Guadalupe, Makati City; Starmall, Mandaluyong City; Robinsons’ Place, Ermita, Manila; Victory Pasay Mall and Welcome Plaza, Pasay City; and Farmers’ Plaza, Cubao, Quezon City.
The banned items are discreetly sold by most vendors except at Victory Pasay Mall and Welcome Plaza in Pasay City where the items are placed on display in glass cabinets of silver jewelry shops, the EcoWaste Coalition noted.
In their letter to Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona, Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, Food and Drug Administration Director Nicolas B. Lutero III and Environmental Management Bureau Director Juan Miguel T. Cuna, the EcoWaste Coalition expressed dismay over the continued sale of toxic silver cleaner and their use as suicidal potion by persons suffering from emotional, financial, health and relationship issues.
At least five people aged 17 to 62 have died from January to June 2012 due to the deliberate ingestion of cyanide-containing silver cleaner, according to the media monitoring by the EcoWaste Coalition.
To get to the bottom of the problem, the EcoWaste Coalition requested Secretaries Ona and Paje to convene a multistakeholders’ committee to review the implementation of the Joint DOH-DENR Advisory, Series of 2012-0001.
Signed on 24 September 2010 by the two incumbent Secretaries, the advisory bans the sale of silver jewelry cleaning solutions containing cyanide and other toxic substances, and further bans the importation, manufacturing, distribution and sale of silver cleaners without product registration and labeling.
The EcoWaste Coalition also appealed to the authorities to conduct a random inspection of silver jewelry shops in major commercial hubs and shopping malls and decisively apprehend and charge violators of the ban.
The group also asked government regulators to reach out to the management of shopping malls and entice them to help in policing silver jewelry shops doing business in their premises.
Cyanide and its compounds, which are among the 48 substances in the Philippine Priority Chemicals List, are highly toxic to people and marine life even at low concentrations.
Exposure to cyanide through eye or skin contact, inhalation and ingestion can cause irritation, rash, bluish skin color, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, nausea, headache, blindness, suffocation, lung congestion, convulsions, paralysis, coma and death.
1. Joint DOH-DENR Advisory re Silver Jewelry Cleaner: