A toxics watchdog has urged the Pasay City government led by Mayor Antonino Calixto to take strong action to stop preventable deaths in the city due to the ingestion of illegally traded silver jewelry cleaner.
The EcoWaste Coalition specifically asked the Pasay City Council to enact an ordinance that will impose severe fines and penalties on violators of the ban on cyanide-laced silver jewelry cleaner following a string of fatal poisoning cases in the city.
“Despite the ban on its production, distribution and sale, the number of cyanide poisoning deaths due to the intake of silver cleaning agent continues to rise,” lamented Thony Dizon, coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
In Pasay City, for instance, four-year old Rheven Mendoza of D. Santiago St. died last June 21 after drinking silver cleaner by accident, while on May 17, Joceyln Garcia, 22 and Rholiza Legan, 24, of St. Mary St., Maricaban were killed after mistakenly drinking the poisonous liquid. In both incidents, the clear, water-like silver cleaning solution was stored in a plastic bottle.
Acute poisoning happens when the cyanide content of the cleaning liquid is absorbed by the body via ingestion, inhalation or skin absorption, blocking the utilization of oxygen at the cell, tissue and organ levels and causing death.
“The Pasay City government and other local government units (LGUs) need to step in and exercise the powers vested on them to put a stop to these senseless deaths,” Dizon said.
A city ordinance should be crafted and passed at once to halt the sale of cyanide-laden silver cleaner, the EcoWaste Coalition suggested.
To be effective, it should provide for information activities targeting businesses and consumers, and incorporate strong compliance monitoring, enforcement and penalty provisions, the group said.
“Even if the city ordinance is not yet in place, we appeal to Mayor Calixto and the Pasay City government to act without delay in keeping with the responsibility of LGUs to protect the public health and welfare under the Local Government Code and the Constitution,” Dizon said.
In September 2010, the Department of Health and Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued a joint advisory banning the sale of silver jewelry cleaners containing cyanide and other toxic substances, as well as their importation, manufacturing, distribution and sale without product registration and labeling. PNA