Results at a Glance
Our study and the resulting media attention brought about several important changes within the Philippines, and attention among government leaders, the press, and Filipino citizens to the issues of high—sometimes alarmingly high—levels of metals in childrens’s products, school supplies, and cosmetics.
Responses from the Philippine Government
Impact: Food and Drug Administration
Food and Drug Administration Director Suzette Lazo issued a press statement on consumer safety supporting the EcoWaste Coalition-IPEN research survey on the presence of toxic substances in consumer products.
Director Agnette Peralta, Engineer Renato Ongcoy and the entire laboratory staff of the FDA Central Office attended the press conference, as an expression of support, where the Manila XRF test results were disclosed.
Director Lazo likewise instructed the FDA satellite offices to join the succeeding press conferences in Cebu and Davao and to read the agency’s statement.
The Department of Health pledged to seize mercury-loaded skin whitening products, following the FDA’s unprecedented ban on skin whitening creams with high levels of lead, totaling 50 brands, that was prompted by tests conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition and IPEN.
Impact: Senate Investigation to Strengthen Regulation
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago proposed a resolution to conduct a senate investigation on the need to strengthen current regulation that will eliminate the use of toxic chemicals in children’s products.
Impact: Senate Convenes Hearing on Mercury in Skin-Whitening Products
Senator Manuel Villar proposed a resolution urging the appropriate senate committees to conduct an inquiry “on the proliferation of toys with toxic and hazardous substances and components in the Philippine market with the end in view of formulating stricter measures to protect Filipino children”.
Also, Senator Villar chaired the public hearing convened by the Senate Committees on Trade and Commerce and on Health and Demography where the EcoWaste Coalition presented the results of the tests it conducted on certain skin whitening products. Out of the 12 products tested using XRF, 11 were found to contain mercury from 1,085 to 28,600 ppm (the national limit is 1 ppm).
Impact: Cebu Council Supports Results of Study
Authored by Environment Committee Chair, Councilor Nida Cabrera, the City Council of Cebu unanimously approved in August 10, two (2) resolutions in support to the results of the Cebu XRF activity.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro, reacting to the release of the test results on school supplies, said: “The safety of our students is our primary concern. We fully support EcoWaste Coalition in their advocacy to ensure that school supplies are safe from harmful chemicals and we join their call to manufacturers, importers, distributors, wholesalers and retailers to produce only toxic-free products for our children.”
“Following reports that some imported beauty products have lethal ingredients, the Bureau of Customs (BoC) has taken precautionary measures to prevent these from entering the country’s ports and being sold in the market.”
Reaction from the Industry
Impact: Retailer Returns Toxic Products to Manufacturers
National Bookstore returned to vendors products that have been found to contain lead and other toxic metals, except for one item which they said has a certification from the Department of Health, Philippines
They also advised suppliers to comply with the labeling requirements under the Consumer Act of the Philippines and Food and Drug Administration Act.
Impact: Toy Store Pulls Products off Shelves
Robinsons Corporation/ Toys R Us informed EcoWaste that they already pulled out toys and children’s items identified as toxic, except for one item—Audy (Baby Toy) which they said has reportedly passed the toxic element analysis.
Toys R Us sent EcoWaste a copy of the test report of Intertek-China for this item. A review of the report shows that the toy component which tested positive in the test conducted by the EcoWaste and IPEN was not among those tested by the laboratory.
The company Ocean Glass, one of Asia’s leading glass tableware brands (see www.oceanglass.com) called EcoWaste to know about the research findings. Robinsons Corporation has put the item on hold (a Bubblegum glass), which tested with high levels of lead.
Reply letter of Toys R Us still pending
Impact: Department Store Asks Branches to Pull Products
SM Department Store/ Toy Kingdom sent an advisory to all its branches to pull out the toxic toys identified in the research.
Document available soon
Nationwide media coverage has surpassed the targeted 15 news articles per area of testing, with articles in nearly 30 different periodicals, media outlets, and web sites.
15 press releases were issued in relation to children’s products, schools supplies and cosmetics, generating a total of at least 128 print and broadcast media hits.
Impact: 48 Media Hits in Metro Manila
Metro Manila coverage had a total of 48 hits based on EcoWaste monitoring
- TV—7 news stories were aired, 3 of these were live interviews
- Print—9 news stories were published; 11 photos; 1 editorial of a major daily newspaper
- Online—12 stories
- Radio—only one was monitored through the Internet
- Total: 48 hits
Impact: 15 Media Hits in Metro Cebu
Media Coverage in Metro Cebu:
- TV—all the main channels aired their coverage; 1 local cable channel also aired its coverage days after
- Print—6 news stories; Columnist Gloria Ramos who is part of the XRF research team was able to feature the topic three (3) times in her column
- Radio—the radio was maximized to the fullest to substantially discuss the Cebu testing results; PEJC which has its own radio program was able to discuss the topic for 3 episodes
- Online—these news stories published in the 3 local dailies of Cebu were also published online
- Total: 15 hits
Impact: 22 Media Hits in Davao City
Media coverage in Davao City:
(there was limitation in monitoring the radio)
- TV—4 news coverage
- Print—12 news stories; 2 photos; 1 editorial
- Online—3 online stories plus that of e-copies of local dailies ( 2 local dailies of Davao also have their own online version)
- Total: 22 hits
Impact: Editorials Stress Concern for Health
The country’s number one newspaper, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, wrote an editorial about the results of the tests, stressing that “the lives of our children are not to be played with.”
—Philippine Daily Inquirer- “Toxic Fun”, July 23, 2011
Other editorial pieces based on the results of the EcoWaste-IPEN product analyses were also published in Mindanao Daily Mirror, People’s Journal, Pilipino Star Ngayon, PM and Sun Star Davao.
Impact: Wide Media Coverage
Other media outputs:
- Stories about the consolidated test results issued after completing all the tests in Manila, Cebu and Davao: 5 articles, including one feature article in Business World.
- Stories about lead-tainted school supplies: 21 articles, including three editorials.
- The findings of Project XRF landed on major news, public affairs and lifestyle TV programs.