Manila urged to stop street sale of poisonous substances

MANILA, Philippines – As the National Poison Prevention Week comes to an end, toxics watchdog EcoWaste Coalition urged the city of Manila to stop the “unimpeded” street sale of poisonous substances, particularly in Divisoria.

"Based on the market surveillance we conducted yesterday, vendors have yet to stop selling repacked chlorine and oxalic acid in Divisoria," Thony Dizon, coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect, said in a statement Saturday, June 27.

In particular, chlorine and oxalic acid in granular form are repacked without proper labeling and sold by street vendors in Ilaya, Sta Elena, and Tabora for at least P20.

Dizon said these substances, which look like iodized salt or sugar in their granular form, are being sold alongside condiments, increasing the risk of cross-contamination.

"As a preventive measure, we urge the Manila City government to put a stop to this dangerous street trade of poisonous substances in unlabeled packets and not wait for more poisoning cases to occur," he added.

Oxalic acid recently figured in two separate food poisoning incidents in Manila and Negros Occidental.

Two people died in April due to food poisoning involving Ergo Cha Milk Tea House in Manila. The milk tea powder and syrup from the shop tested positive for oxalic acid. 

Months later in Cauayan, Negros Occidental, 39 students were rushed to the hospital after eating a local delicacy called "bichockoy." The food also had oxalic.

Meanwhile, in 2014, the National Poison Management and Control Center ranked chlorine granules as top 9 out of 10 poison agents for admitted patients of the Philippine General Hospital.

Every 4th week of June is National Poison Prevention Week, as mandated by Presidential Proclamation 1777 series of 2009. The celebration hopes to raise awareness about preventing poisoning at home, school, work, and other places. –