Tondo Ban against Hazardous Recycling of Busted Lamps Takes Effect Today

An unprecedented ban against the breaking of busted fluorescent lamps will take effect today, December 7, in a recycling community in Tondo, Manila.

By virtue of Resolution 11-25 adopted by the Barangay Council on November 7, informal recyclers in Barangay 105, Zone 8, District 1 are now forbidden from manually breaking lamp waste to retrieve recyclable components, a process that releases mercury vapor into the surroundings.

Barangay Chairman Luisito Reyes sought full public cooperation to curb mercury pollution from the informal recycling of lamp waste in the area.

“We appeal to our constituents to fully observe the ban against the unsafe recycling of mercury-containing lamp waste,” said Reyes.

“Mercury vapors that escape from the breaking of busted lamps is hazardous to community health,” he reminded.

Kagawad Marlene Tumbokon, who chairs the health committee, pointed out that the barangay policy hopes to prevent occupational and community exposure to mercury.

“By avoiding improper disposal and recycling of mercury-containing lamp waste, we avoid our recyclers and the larger community from being exposed to this dangerous chemical,” she said.

In cooperation with the EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, the Barangay Council put up posters enjoining community members to follow the said public health policy.

The posters were distributed widely at Sitio Damayang Lagi and other recycling sites in the area
“We support this timely initiative by the Barangay Council and call upon our government and business leaders to recognize and assist their effort to cut back mercury pollution,” stated Thony Dizon,Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Dizon reiterated the need for ecological collection and recycling of broken or spent mercury-containing lamps, including the introduction of extended producer responsibility or EPR to ensure the environmentally-sound management of lamp products throughout their life cycle.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, mercury, a potent neurotoxin, can interfere with the brain and the nervous system and can be most dangerous for pregnant women and young kids.

Mercury vapor, in particular, can have damaging effects to the central and peripheral nervous systems, lungs, kidneys, eyes and skin.

Exposure to mercury can cause a variety of ailments among children such as mental retardation and other developmental disorders, cerebral palsy, blindness and deafness.