EcoWaste Coalition Pushes “Right to Chemical Safety,” Dances “Harlem Shake” for “Toxics-Free Future”

Environmental health advocates gathered today in Quezon City to affirm the people’s “right to chemical safety, right to a toxic-free future.”

At a seminar sponsored by the EcoWaste Coalition, some 45 advocates from various public interest groups expressed support for stronger chemical safety policies and measures that will protect human health and the environment.

“We will promote and support actions that will create increased understanding of the harms caused by toxic chemicals in processes, products and wastes, as well as actions that will prevent chemical contamination of our air, water, soil and food supply that could impair the public health, particularly the health of workers, farmers, women, children and the unborn,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

The advocates likewise asked politicians vying for Senate and House seats, as well as local government positions, to recognize the people’s “right to chemical safety” and to make it an integral part of their political platforms.

“Chemical safety is a national concern requiring concerted response at all levels. We therefore urge national and local candidates for the mid-term polls to incorporate chemical safety, as well as zero waste, into their electoral platforms and pledges,” Dizon said.

To dramatize their call, EcoWaste Coalition’s youth volunteers from Eco-Marino performed the latest dance craze “Harlem Shake” against toxics and for chemical safety and zero waste during the event.

Speaking at the seminar, visiting global chemical policy expert Jack Weinberg from IPEN (a civil society network linking chemical safety to sustainable development) and Engr. Ana Rivera from the Department of Health both cited the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) as a useful framework to promote chemical safety, locally and globally.

The overall objective of SAICM is “the achievement of the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle so that, by 2020, chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on human health and the environment.”

The said “2020 goal” was adopted by the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 as part of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.

According to SAICM’s Dubai Declaration, “the sound management of chemicals is essential if we are to achieve sustainable development, including the eradication of poverty and disease, the improvement of human health and the environment and the elevation and maintenance of the standard of living in countries at all levels of development.”

As per DOH Administrative Order 2013-009 on the “National Chemical Safety Management and Toxicology Policy” signed by Health Secretary Enrique Ona, “only 2% of chemicals produced commercially have completed health hazard assessment while only 14% of all chemicals have sufficient information to support event partial health assessment.”

According to IPEN, “many of these chemicals are known to cause birth defects, cancers, learning and neurological disorders, and other human diseases… and most countries still lack adequate laws and enforcement mechanisms to protect people from exposure.”

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, and is a member of IPEN.