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Warning Out on Unlabeled Silver Jewelry Cleaners Sold on the Sidewalks

Unlabeled Silver Jewelry Cleaners

Quezon City. The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition is again reminding the public to refrain from buying and using unregistered silver jewelry cleaners (SJCs), which are often sold on the sidewalks.

These SJCs bear zero labeling information, no product name, description, usage instructions and manufacturer’s markings, and no signal words like “poison,” “danger,” “warning” or “caution” to inform and guide consumers.

The reminder was prompted by what the group saw during its market monitoring in conjunction with the recent Feast of Santo Niño in Tondo, Manila last Sunday, January 21.

Found being sold on the sidewalk of J. Nolasco St. a few steps away from the Tondo Church were small bottles of water-like liquid costing P50 each. The handwritten placard describes the product as a “silver cleaner” and playfully says “libre tikim” (free taste). It is sold along with discounted silver bracelets, necklaces and other accessories that were supposedly saved from burning establishments, according to the seller.

Upon paying for two bottles, the vendor told the EcoWaste Coalition Toxic Patroller “ingatan sa mga bata” (keep away from children), which seems to indicate that the liquid cleaner may pose a poisoning hazard to kids, the group observed.

While its chemical make-up has yet to be determined, the EcoWaste Coalition is concerned that the liquid cleaner may contain hazardous, if not lethal, chemicals like cyanide.

Cyanide is extremely harmful to humans, as well as to marine life. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “cyanide is a rapidly acting, potential deadly chemical that interferes with the body’s ability to use oxygen.”

To allay its suspicion, the EcoWaste Coalition will submit a sample of the SJC bought to an accredited laboratory for cyanide analysis.

This is not the first time that the EcoWaste Coalition has monitored unlabeled SJCs being sold on the sidewalks. Last year, the group saw similar products on sale in Pedro Gil St., Ermita, Manila and in Rizal Ave., Santa Cruz, also in Manila.

As it is better to be safe than sorry, the group appealed to the public to heed the following consumer safety tips from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as mentioned in Advisory No. 2016-088:

  1. Avoid buying SJCs without usage instructions in English and/or Philippine dialects.
  2. Read the product label carefully, which should include the following information:
    • Name and place of business of the manufacturer, packer, distributor or seller;
    • Common or usual name of the chemical/s used.
    • Signal word “POISON” and the skull and crossbones symbol for any highly toxic substance.
    • Signal word “DANGER” on substances that are extremely flammable, corrosive or highly toxic.
    • Signal word “WARNING” or “CAUTION” on all other hazardous substances.
    • Word to describe hazard/s such as “FLAMMABLE,” “VAPOR HARMFUL,” “CAUSING BURNS,” and “HARMFUL OR FATAL IF SWALLOWED.”
    • Precautionary statements such as “do not take internally,” “avoid breathing dust (or vapor),” “avoid contact with eyes and prolonged skin contact,” and “use only in a well-ventilated area.”
    • Instructions for handling and storage such as “keep away from heat” and “keep out of reach of children.”
    • First aid treatment supplemented with the statement “call a physician immediately.”

FDA Advisory No. 2021-0879 also reiterated the ban on the manufacture, distribution, importation, and sale of cyanide-containing SJCs.

“Always check if a product is registered with the FDA by using the FDA Verification Portal (https://verification.fda.gov.ph/Home.php),” the agency told consumers.

Fourteen years ago, the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) issued a joint advisory in 2010 declaring cyanide-containing SJCs “threat to health and safety,” and banning such products in response to the spate of adult and pediatric poisoning cases.



EcoWaste Coalition
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