23 September 2022, Quezon City. Despite the ban, the sale of unregistered silver jewelry cleaners (SJCs), which may contain cyanide and other harmful substances, goes on posing real dangers to people of all ages, as well as to aquatic life.
The EcoWaste Coalition expressed dismay over the persistent trade of such hazardous products 12 years after the Department of Health and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued Joint Advisory 2010-0001 banning SJCs containing cyanide and other harmful substances.
“We find it appalling that SJCs, which have been identified as a ‘threat to health and safety’ by the authorities, are still produced and marketed as if people’s lives don’t matter,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “We urge those responsible for placing these dangerous goods in the market to stop disobeying the law for people’s sake.”
In test buys conducted on September 21 and 22, the group managed to buy two unlabeled SJCs worth P35 and P50 from sidewalk vendors in Rizal Avenue, Manila City and one partially labeled “Gold and Silver Companion” SJC sold at a silver jewelry shop in Cubao, Quezon City for P50 (this product is also sold online).
Also, the group found “Silver Sparkle” SJC being sold by online sellers at Lazada and Shopee. In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found this SJC positive for cyanide prompting it to advise the public not to buy, use or store the product as it can endanger both human and animal health.
Last year, the FDA through Advisory No. 2021-0879 reaffirmed the ban on SJCs containing cyanide, including their promotion and sale in e-commerce sites.
As explained by the FDA, “cyanide is a highly toxic chemical which may be inhaled, absorbed through the skin or ingested (accidental or deliberate) even at small doses/concentration.”
It warned that “exposure to cyanide may bring about any of the following signs and symptoms within minutes – dizziness, headache, nausea and vomiting, rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, restlessness and weakness or may lead to respiratory failure, loss of consciousness and possibly death, among others.”
To avoid buying potentially lethal SJCs, the EcoWaste Coalition invited the public to visit the FDA Product Verification Portal at https://verification.fda.gov.ph/Home.php to confirm if the product is duly registered before making any purchase.
The group further encouraged the public to try safe substitutes to SJCs, including combining two parts of baking soda with one part water to make a non-hazardous cleaning paste for silver jewelry.
Finally, the group appealed to national and local government agencies to take immediate law enforcement action. It likewise asked the administrators of online shopping platforms to remove listings for FDA-warned SJCs, as well as SJCs lacking market authorization.