MANILA, Philippines – On Saturday, April 28, the EcoWaste Coalition warned barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) candidates against using potentially harmful tarpaulins that may contain the cancer-causing chemical cadmium.
The alert comes less than a week before May 4, the start of the barangay and SK candidates’ 9-day campaign period. This is the first village and youth council polls in 5 years, with election day to be held on May 14.
“Tarpaulins such as those made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic often contain cadmium, a chemical that is deemed extremely harmful to human health and the environment,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition.
Cadmium is used as a stabilizer or coloring agent in PVC plastics.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) lists cadmium as a chemical that may cause “unreasonable risk to public health, workplace, and the environment.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) also lists cadmium among the “10 chemicals of major public health concern,” because of its effects on the kidney, skeletal and respiratory systems, and because it’s classified as a human carcinogen.
In a test conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition, 10 different tarpaulins from different signage makers in Caloocan City, Quezon City, and Taguig City yielded 1,028 to 1,536 parts per million (ppm). The European Union’s limit for cadmium in plastics is 100 ppm.
“We are concerned that cadmium-containing tarpaulins are adding to the growing toxicity of the waste stream that our society generates,” Dizon said.
He said PVC plastic scraps from signage makers, as well as the used tarpaulins, “are disposed of like ordinary trash and hauled to dumpsites and landfills for disposal where their cadmium and other chemical additives can be released as the materials degrade.”
“These chlorinated materials may also end up being burned in dumps, cement kilns, and incinerators triggering the formation and release of even more toxic pollutants such as dioxins and furans,” Dizon added.
Dizon said that government regulators should consider adopting a “chemical control order for cadmium.”
This, he said, would “reduce, if not eliminate, their use in the production of plastic and other materials and lessen their health and environmental impacts.” – Rappler.com
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