T’BOLI, SOUTH COTABATO – In light of today’s commemoration of Earth Day, environmental watchdog group BAN Toxics calls on the government to advocate for toxics and wastes-free schools across the Philippines.
This year’s Earth Day theme is “Invest in Our Planet.”Earth Day is celebrated yearly to support environmental rights and protection. The protection of children from toxic chemicals and wastes should be prioritized because they are uniquely vulnerable to its adverse effects.
Students and teachers from T’Boli National High School and Edwards National High School from T’Boli, South Cotabato also joined the call for a toxics-free future.
BAN Toxics has been advocating for sound chemicals and wastes management, with a special focus on children’s protection through their Toxics-Free Schools Program (TFSP). The Toxics-Free Schools Program was spearheaded in 2014 by BAN Toxics, with the support of the Department of Education (DepEd).
The program’s goal was to make schools safe for children and faculty members and to increase awareness on the issue of toxic and waste pollution in schools and homes. Moreover, the program seeks to engage schools and communities on proper sound chemicals and wastes management.
Toxics-Free Schools Program focuses on the toxic chemicals and wastes that might be found in schools. The hazardous chemicals include lead, mercury, phthalates, cadmium, and arsenic. Exposure to these chemicals pose serious health risks to children.
Human exposure to lead comes from the use of fossil fuels, leaded gasoline, industrial facilities, and use of lead-based paint in homes and schools. Primary sources of human exposure to mercury are from mercury-added products such as dental amalgam and mercurial thermometer, and gold mining activities. Phthalates are usually found in personal care products such as soap and shampoo, as well as plastic-based school supplies. People are exposed to cadmium through cigarettes, batteries, and cadmium-added paint. Primary exposure to arsenic are from pesticides and drinking contaminated water and food.
The program also promotes proper and sound waste management both in school and at home. This includes proper waste segregation, implementing the 3Rs, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, urban gardening and composting, and minimization of single-use plastics usage.
BAN Toxics is a non-governmental organization that strongly supports the protection of the environment and advocates for an environmentally sustainable future through the promotion of sound chemicals and wastes management practices. The organization continues to promote the Toxics-Free School Program by partnering with academic institutions to protect children from the adverse effects of toxic chemicals and wastes pollution.
“This Earth Day, we call on the government to take a stronger stance to protect children from the harmful effects of toxic chemicals and wastes. We need to capacitate our schools and communities to take action against toxic and waste pollution,” says Reynaldo San Juan Jr., executive director of BAN Toxics.