Carcinogen found in poll campaign materials

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AN environmental watchdog on Friday warned that campaign materials used for Monday’s elections contain traces of cadmium, a cancerous substance.

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EcoWaste Coalition said it analyzed samples from 200 tarpaulin posters and streamers made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) from different polling and posting areas using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.

All the samples had a cadmium content of not lower than 1,279 parts per million (ppm), while 51 samples had a cadmium content of up to 1,704 ppm.

“The results of our chemical analysis provide a valid basis for strong regulatory measures to curb the use of cadmium and lead in vinyl plastic materials such as tarpaulins, which can cause adverse effects to human health and the environment,” said Thony Dizon, coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Dizon said there is a need to strongly regulate to use of plastic tarpaulins.

“The unregulated use of toxic additives in PVC tarpaulins creates a host of health and environmental concerns not only during their production and use, but also during their disposal; hence the need for strong regulations,” he said.

As part of the regulations, EcoWaste said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) should issue a Chemical Control Orders (CCOs) that will ban the use of cadmium and lead as PVC stabilizers or pigments.

The agency should also require the use  of safe alternatives and ensure the environmentally sound disposal of waste PVC.

Ecowaste also pushed for the amendment of the Commission of Elections resolution number 9615 making it mandatory for political parties, candidates and other election stakeholders to use recyclable and environment-friendly campaign materials containing no hazardous chemicals.

Cadmium is classified as “carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) with inhalation as the main route exposure, the group said.

Scientific studies have linked long-term exposure to cadmium to high blood pressure, age-related macular degeneration, and cancer of the breast, lung and kidney.

Cadmium is also known as an endocrine-disrupting chemical that contributes to reproductive disorders in men, causing genital deformities and affecting male virility.

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