Ban on wood preservatives with arsenic lauded
Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - November 21, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA,Philippines — A group promoting zero waste and chemical safety welcomed the recent promulgation of a new Chemical Control Order (CCO) that will, among other things, ban wood preservatives containing arsenic, a highly toxic chemical.

The EcoWaste Coalition lauded the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) after it promulgated on Nov. 8 Administrative Order 2019-17, which seeks to “reduce the risk of exposure to human health and the environment of arsenic and arsenic compounds used in industrial processes” through a CCO.

A CCO is a policy issuance by the DENR for chemicals that the agency has “determined to be regulated, phased out or banned due to the serious risks they pose to public health, workplace and the environment.”

“We laud the DENR through the Environmental Management Bureau for completing the participatory processes that led to the adoption of the CCO on arsenic, which is among the top 10 chemicals of major public health concern as per the World Health Organization (WHO),” said Thony Dizon, the coalition’s chemical safety campaigner.

“This CCO is the latest chemical policy directive by the department following the groundbreaking CCO banning lead in paint and other applications in 2013,” he noted.

According to the WHO, the intake of the acutely toxic inorganic arsenic over a long period of time can lead to chronic arsenic poisoning or arsenicosis. “Effects, which can take years to develop depending on the level of exposure, include skin lesions, peripheral neuropathy, gastrointestinal symptoms, diabetes, renal system effects, cardiovascular disease and cancer,” the WHO said 

EcoWaste Coalition, assisted by technical and scientific experts from the Philippines and abroad, submitted a position paper in February 2017 and specifically lobbied for the prohibition on arsenic-containing pesticides for treating wood.

In pushing for a ban on wood preservatives containing arsenic, the group cited studies in the US suggesting that arsenic-treated wood such as those used in playground poses potential health risks to children as the chemical can end up on children’s hands and mouths.


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