MANILA - Environmental watchdog EcoWaste Coalition on Saturday urged Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) candidates to be wary of tarpaulins containing a cancer-causing chemical.
"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, EcoWaste Coalition's Chemical Safety Campaigner.
With the campaign period officially starting on May 4, the group encouraged bets to be visible to voters and not focus their resources on the quantity of tarpaulins and other campaign materials to be made and disseminated.
"Voters will surely remember candidates who have taken the trouble of visiting their homes and neighborhoods not only to shake hands but, more importantly, to chat with them about their concerns and how the Barangay and the SK could be of assistance to their lives,” Dizon said.
To drive its point,the group had 10 new campaign tarpaulins done by different signage makers in the cities of Caloocan, Quezon and Taguig.
The tarpaulins, measuring 18 by 24 inches and costing P36 to 150 each, carried the names of popular teleserye characters as Barangay and SK bets.
These were then subjected to chemical analysis using an X-Ray Flourescense (XRF) device to determine if the material contains cadmium, a chemical used as stabilizer or coloring agent in PVC plastic.
“We are concerned that cadmium-containing tarpaulins are adding to the growing toxicity of the waste stream that our society generates,” Dizon said.
The group found that of the total, 6 yielded cadmium in the range of 1,028 to 1,536 parts per million (ppm), way beyond the European Union’s limit of 100 ppm for cadmium in plastics.
"The 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,” he explained.
“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.”
The group likewise hope that government regulators would adopt a chemical control order for cadmium to limit its use in the production of plastic and other materials and lessen their health and environmental impacts.
Cadmium belongs to the list of priority chemicals determined by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) “to potentially cause unreasonable risk to public health, workplace, and the environment.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) also considers cadmium, along with arsenic, asbestos, lead and mercury, among the “ten chemicals of major public health concern.”
Cadmium, according to the World Health Organization, “exerts toxic effects on the kidney, the skeletal and the respiratory systems, and is classified as a human carcinogen.”