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A Toxics-Free Future


Southeast Asia

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have received significant public and media attention in the US, EU, and Australia, in part due to their toxicity, extreme persistence, and documented water pollution. However, information about PFAS in other parts of the world is largely lacking and the information which is available is difficult to access.

Over the past few months, IPEN Participating Organizations in twelve Middle Eastern and Asian countries conducted surveys to explore possible PFAS uses and pollution sources, scientific studies and government actions, including under the Stockholm Convention. Countries covered include: Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The Philippines marks this year’s International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (ILPPW) with the historic phase-out of paints containing lead additives as backdrop.

The ILPPW, which will take place from October 25th until the 31st, is an initiative of the UN-backed Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint with this year’s edition focusing on the need to accelerate progress towards the global phase out of lead paint through regulatory and legal measures.

Drone view of Thai "dioxin factory" where circuit boards and wires are burned in a giant smelter. Toxic smoke belches from the stack, while ash piles are visible in foreground, and imported electronic equipment seen in the background. Photo Basel Action Network (BAN).

Strict Enforcement and Similar Actions by other Countries Called For

Bangkok, Thailand and Seattle, WA, USA. October 6, 2020. Following repeated revelations of the dumping of electronic wastes, from countries such as the US, Japan, and Australia, the Thai government has finally passed a full prohibition on the import of such hazardous wastes into Thailand. Environmental groups that had been calling for such a ban for several years applauded the move but now call for vigorous enforcement of the law, the addition of plastic wastes and the ratification by Thailand of the Basel Convention's Ban Amendment.

Read the original press release from the Network for a Carcinogen-Free Society and IPEN in Korean

This is a press release from the Network for a Carcinogen-Free Society and IPEN. The Network for a Carcinogen-Free Society includes the following groups: Citizens' Action to Create Gunsan without Carcinogens; Civil Action to Create Ulsan without Carcinogens; Coalition of Health and Medical Organizations to Realize the Right to Health; Pharmaceutical Society for a Healthy Society; Dental Society for a Healthy Society; Labor Health Alliance; Humanitarian Practitioner Council; Young Korean Medical Association for the Realization of True Medicine; Green Alliance; Child Health National Solidarity; iCOOP Seoul Council; Korean Women's Environmental Network; Wonjin Foundation; Environment Health Research Institute; National Metal Workers' Union; Korean Confederation of Trade Unions; National Parents' Association for True Education; Green Education Solidarity; Blue Gwangmyeong 21 Action Council; Environmental Movement Alliance; and Environmental Justice.

On September 25, 2020, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced that it would sign a “multilateral agreement on the use of lead-reducing paint that complies with international standards”. The main focus is to use products with excellent safety and low lead content below the recommended level of the World Health Organization (WHO) in city-managed facilities and public places. The agreement includes five paint manufacturers, the Korea Paint Ink Industry Cooperative, Seoul Facilities Corporation, SH Corporation, and the Green Seoul Citizens' Committee. This is a valuable fruit of civil society organizations that have been working for a safe environment for children from harmful substances, paint manufacturers that manufacture safe products, and Seoul's efforts to make Seoul safe from harmful substances.

According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government, through this agreement, less than 0.009% (90ppm) lead in the interior and exterior of public facilities managed by the Seoul Facilities Corporation and public housing sold, rented, and managed by the Seoul Housing and Urban Corporation (SH) comply with international standards. Only paints containing this will be used.

Results of a second investigation on the contents of phthalic plasticizers in the yellow rubber ducky

Report by Toxics Free Corps, China, in Chinese:

Ground-breaking report finds greater monitoring needed

Quezon City, Philippines/Gothenburg, Sweden - In the first public study of its kind, environmental health groups EcoWaste Coalition and IPEN uncovered spray paints with dangerous lead concentrations — some samples containing levels hundreds of times higher than global standards — on sale in the Philippines in violation of the country’s law banning lead in paints.

The report shows that nearly half of the spray paints tested exceeded the total lead content limit above 90 parts per million (ppm), and nearly a third contained levels higher than 10,000 ppm. Samples were obtained from various retail outlets, including hardware stores, home improvement centers, general merchandise marts, school and office supplies shops, in 20 cities and one municipality in Metro Manila and various parts of Luzon.

Several of the spray paints containing lead were imported from countries with existing, legally-binding lead paint regulations, such as China and Thailand. The Philippine Association of Paint Manufacturers (PAPM) confirmed that none of the analyzed samples in this study was produced by one of its affiliates.

Photo Courtesy of BOC

Customs authorities cautioned from burning confiscated cosmetics containing mercury

Quezon City.  Non-government organizations have cautioned the customs authorities from burning confiscated skin whitening products tainted with mercury to reduce the harm of mercury pollution to human health and the environment. 

Environmental group EcoWaste Coalition on Tuesday urged the Department of Education to screen the schools’ facilities for lead paint hazard which can affect the children’s developing brains and behavior while they are closed due to the COVID-19 scare.
Groups pursue ban on waste trade as the first anniversary of the re-exportation of Canadian garbage dumped in the Philippines on May 31 nears

(Quezon City, Philippines) - Civil society groups marked the first anniversary of the repatriation of 69 container vans of rotting Canadian garbage to their source with a resounding plea for decisive policy actions to prevent its recurrence and to defend environmental justice and the rule of law.

Newly-issued DOH policy banning dental amalgam draws cheers amid the coronavirus crisis

(Quezon City) A new policy promulgated by the Department of Health (DOH) phasing out dental amalgam, a tooth filling material containing approximately 50% mercury, has received roars of approval from advocacy groups within and outside the Philippines.