Thursday, December 16, 2010

Despite ban, OTC sale of jewelry cleaner persists

Despite the supposed ban on the sale of silver jewelry cleaners, over-the-counter sale of this toxic chemical continues unabatedly, a local waste and pollution watchdog revealed.

The EcoWaste Coalition conducted the test buy on December 12 and 14 and found out that “suicide cleaners" could still be easily bought over-the-counter.

The latest victim of silver jewelry cleaner was Rea Patricio, a 14-year old student from Navotas City who fatally ingested the toxic chemical last week.

Silver jewelry cleaners contain cyanide, the same deadly chemical used by unscrupulous fishermen in their illegal fishing activities.

The coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol managed to buy with receipts 30 unlabelled and/or unregistered silver cleaning solutions in some jewelry and watch stores in the following malls: Grand Central Mall (in 5 stores) and Victory Central Mall (4) in Caloocan City; Guadalupe Shopping Center (2) in Makati City; Manila City Plaza (2) in Quiapo, Manila; Starmall Alabang (11) in Muntinlupa City, and Farmer’s Plaza (4) and SM North (2) in Quezon City.
“We find it alarming that, despite a joint ban from the DOH and the DENR, unlabelled and unregistered silver jewelry cleaners are so easily available to anyone with the cash to buy them,” said Thony Dizon, coordinator for the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

“Rea Patricio’s suicide is only the latest in a chain of deaths involving silver cleaners. How many more people need to die before this poison is finally banished from the market?”
The University of the Philippines-National Poison Management and Poison Control Center at the Philippine General Hospital and the East Avenue Medical Center Poison Control Unit consider silver jewelry cleaning agents as one of the top three toxicants among patients admitted for the past two years. They were also the third most commonly swallowed poison among children.
A string of suicides and the accidental death last July of a one-year-old victim from silver cleaner poisoning prompted the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), with input from the EcoWaste Coalition, to issue a joint advisory against the sale of toxic silver cleaners.

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