EcoWaste Coalition: Death of UP Manila Student from Ingesting Silver Jewelry Cleaner a Wake-Up Call for Effective Action vs Cyanide Poison

Environmental health activists
have joined the public outrage over the death of 16-year old ‘KT,’ a first year
student of UP Manila, due to the deliberate ingestion of silver jewelry
The EcoWaste Coalition, which
has been tirelessly campaigning against the deadly cleaning solution, described
the untimely death of the student as a “wake-up call” to effectively enforce
the Joint DOH-DENR Advisory, Series of 2010-0001.
The advisory, signed by Health
Secretary Enrique T. Ona and Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, bans the
sale of silver jewelry cleaning solutions containing cyanide and other toxic
The advisory further bans the
importation, manufacturing, distribution and sale of silver cleaners without
product registration and labeling.
“We grieve for the untimely
demise of ‘KT’ who once dreamed of becoming a doctor. Her death should not go
in vain,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project
Protect, “but catalyze urgent school and market reforms, particularly with
respect to the ‘no permit, no exam policy’ and the sale of products laced with
hazardous chemicals.”
Her mother told the EcoWaste
Coalition that ‘KT,’ whom many say got “beauty and brains,” was severely
affected when the school “forced” her to take a “leave of absence”
for the current semester due to non-full payment of tuition fee.
She was disappointed that the
poisonous silver jewelry cleaner ingested by ‘KT’ was readily available in the
market despite the ban imposed by the government to prevent further poisoning
incidents, accidental and suicidal, that have already claimed so many lives,
the EcoWaste Coalition reported.
“Dapat ay total ban. Patawan ng mabigat na parusa ang nagtitinda
at pati na rin ang bumibili,” she told the group who went to the Sanctuary
Funeral Chapel in Batangas St., Sta. Cruz, Manila to condole with the family.
The EcoWaste Coalition had
repeatedly alerted the authorities about the illicit trade of cyanide-laced
silver cleaning agents, sold from as low as P10 to P150, in sidewalks and silver stores in shopping
In their letter to Secretaries
Ona and Paje last July 2012, the group 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.
The EcoWaste Coalition
requested the Secretaries to convene a multi-stakeholders’ committee to review
the implementation of the Joint DOH-DENR Advisory, Series of 2010-0001.
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 further 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
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
The EcoWaste Coalition is a
national network of more than 150 public interest groups pursuing sustainable
and just solutions to waste, climate change and chemical issues towards the
envisioned Zero Waste 2020 goal.