Environmental watchdog raises alarm over high levels of toxic chemical in tarps of 2022 bets

March 16, 2022 - 4:15 PM
Image by Camille MARAIS from Pixabay

An environment watchdog detected cadmium, a toxic chemical, in the campaign materials of national candidates in the 2022 elections.

Ecowaste Coalition stated that according to laboratory tests, the tarpaulins they collected contain cadmium levels above the European Union’s limit.

In a post on March 11, the coalition said that they collected tarpaulins and posters from supporters of the following candidates:

  • Leody de Guzman
  • Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso
  • Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson
  • Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
  • Senator Manny Pacquiao
  • Vice President Leni Robredo

The group that they were unable to collect campaign materials from the following four candidates:

  • Ernesto Abella
  • Norberto Gonzales
  • Faisal Mangondato
  • Jose Montemayor, Jr.

Based on the tests, each poster was made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic and contained cadmium from 607 to 775 parts per million (ppm).

One white plastic sheet they obtained, on the other hand, has cadmium between 384 to 546 ppm.

The laboratory tests were performed by SGS, a leading global testing company

Ecowaste said that these cadmium levels were above the 100 ppm limit for cadmium in plastic products under “European laws.”

The group was referring to the European Commission’s 1992 packaging directive that limits concentrations of heavy metals in packaging materials.

This directive was found in a report titled “Study to Analyze the Derogation Request on the use of heavy Metals in Plastic Crates and Plastic Pallets” in 2008.

“The Directive sets a maximum limit for the heavy metals in packaging: the sum of the concentrations of four heavy metals (lead, cadmium, mercury and hexavalent chromium) is not to exceed 600 ppm (as of July 1998); 250 ppm (July, 1999) and 100 ppm (July 2001),” part of the study reads.

The group also mentioned that cadmium is among the World Health Organization’s list of “10 chemicals of public concern.”

Here are the following chemicals or substances in WHO’s list:

  • Air pollution
  • Arsenic
  • Asbestos
  • Benzene
  • Cadmium
  • Dioxins and dioxin-like substances
  • Inadequate or excess fluoride
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Highly Hazardous Pesticides

Following these findings, the environmental watchdog expressed hopes that whoever will win the elections should help their advocacy against the use of cadmium and other toxic substances in plastic products.

“Win or lose, we hope candidates, especially those eyeing national posts, will support our push to get cadmium and other toxic chemical additives out of plastics for the sake of public health and the environment,” said Coleen Salamat, plastic solutions campaigner of Ecowaste Coalition.

Jove Benosa, the zero-waste campaigner of the coalition, also hoped that candidates and political parties will be more mindful and be guided with the type of campaign materials they will use.

“Parties and candidates will need a clearer guidance from the authorities on which campaign materials are free of hazardous ingredients, and we hope the COMELEC  (Commission on Elections) will be supported by competent agencies so it can require, not only encourage, the use of zero waste and toxics-free campaign materials in future elections,” Benosa said.

Comelec encouraged parties and candidates to use environment-friendly materials under Resolution 10730.

“Parties and candidates are hereby encouraged to use recyclable and environment[1]friendly materials and avoid those that contain hazardous chemicals and substances in the production of their campaign and election propaganda,” the resolution reads.

“In local government units where local legislation governing the use of plastic and other similar materials exist, parties and candidates shall comply with the same,” it added.