Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Defying ban, Quiapo traders continue to sell toxic jewelry cleaner

Unscrupulous traders in Quiapo, Manila, continue to defy the ban on the sale of toxic silver jewelry cleaners, a local waste and pollution watchdog reported.

The EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol, under its People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats Project, revealed that jewelry and
fashion accessory shops in Quiapo sell unregistered and unlabelled silver jewelry cleaning products from P25 to P60.

Silver jewelry cleaners contain cyanide, a deadly poison when ingested.

EcoWaste said the unabated sale of silver jewelry cleaners will continue to expose consumers, particularly children, to great risks.

The group conducted test buys on Tuesday morning and found that 10 out of 15 shops located on Carriedo and Villalobos streets continued to sell the banned products and seven out of the 10 even issued receipts as proofs of purchase.
On January 3, Health Undersecretary Mario Villaverde issued Department
Memorandum 2011-004 reiterating a joint advisory by the Department of Health
(DOH) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) banning
the poisonous cleaning solution.

The government had to reiterate the ban due to four reported cases of
unintentional, as well as suicidal, ingestion of silver jewelry cleaners last

The DOH and the DENR released a joint advisory in September 2010 in response
to the clamor to halt the mounting cases of chemical poisoning attributed to
both the accidental and non-accidental intake of the toxic solution by child
and adult victims.

Silver jewelry cleaners, according to the UP National Poison Management and
Control Center and the East Avenue Medical Center Poison Control Unit, is
one of the top three toxicants among patients admitted for the past two

“Laboratory analysis of samples of silver cleaners show elevated levels of
cyanide clearly posing imminent danger or even death to humans,” the DOH and
DENR joint advisory said.

“All commercial establishments such as jewelry shops and other retail
outlets and ambulant vendors are strongly warned against selling and/or
dispensing unregistered and unlabeled silver cleaners,” the joint advisory

Those found violating the ban will be prosecuted under DOH
Administrative Order 312 on “Household Hazardous Substances” and the
DENR Administrative Order 97-39 on the “Chemical Control Order for
Cyanide and Cyanide Compounds.”

The DOH-DENR advisory further urged the public to call the Food and Drug
Administration at telephone number 8078275 for any information that may lead
to the arrest of importers, manufacturers, distributors and sellers of
banned silver cleaners.

According to EcoWaste, the improper disposal of cyanide-laced silver cleaners can endanger aquatic life, explaining why the DOH and the DENR advised individuals and entities to surrender unregistered and unlabeled silver cleaning agents in their
possession to the nearest office of the DENR-EMB or the DOH-FDA or their
corresponding regional offices for proper disposal.


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