Watchdog group backs drive against cyanide-laced silver jewelry cleaners
Undated stock photo shows jewelry.
Photo by Alissa De Leva on Unsplash

Watchdog group backs drive against cyanide-laced silver jewelry cleaners

(Philstar.com) - May 5, 2021 - 12:41pm

MANILA, Philippines — A toxics watchdog group on Wednesday pushed for stakeholders’ unity to finally put an end to the illegal trade of silver jewelry cleaning solutions containing cyanide.

This comes after the Food and Drug Administration issued its Advisory No. 2021-0879 reiterating the prohibition of the dangerous and toxic products.

In a statement, the EcoWaste Coalition said that the illegal trade has gone unabated despite a separate joint advisory by the Department of Health and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources strictly prohibiting the sale of the cleaners.

“For more than a decade, we have heard of many heartrending poisoning stories due to accidental or deliberate ingestion of cyanide-laced silver jewelry cleaners leading to the sudden death of victims, including innocent children who mistook the clear liquid for water,” Thony Dizon, chemical safety campaigner at the EcoWaste Coalition said. 

“Since 2009, we have repeatedly asked the authorities to resolutely act to stop these deadly cyanide poisoning cases. Thus we welcome FDA’s fresh directive reiterating the ban on cyanide-containing silver jewelry cleaners. This we hope would be the final nail in the coffin,” he said.

To recall, the FDA issued its reminder after its post-marketing surveillance activities and laboratory testing disclosed that the cleaning solutions are still being in the market.

The FDA advisory reads: “To eliminate potential risks to human health brought about by cyanide exposure, the FDA hereby reiterates the ban on all silver jewelry cleaners containing cyanide that is manufactured, distributed, imported, sold, and offered for sale or promoted in the market/ecommerce marketplaces."

“We therefore call upon all stakeholders, including consumers, silver jewelry stores, national and local health and police offices and others, to work with the FDA toward the effective enforcement of its latest advisory,” Dizon said in his statement.

The coalition also expressed alarm over the online sale of unregistered silver jewelry cleaning products, including “Silver Sparkle” which had previously been identified in 2016 as containing cyanide, pointing out that “many of the silver jewelry cleaning products being sold online are not authorized and may contain an undisclosed amount of cyanide, which is highly toxic to people and marine life even at low concentrations."

It urged the management of online shopping platforms to take down ads by third-party dealers for silver jewelry cleaners not registered with the FDA and to blacklist non-compliant sellers, pointing to the popularity of online commerce amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The coalition in its statement also suggested the use of liquid dish soap, washing detergent, toothpaste, vinegar and baking soda for polishing silver jewelry instead of unauthorized cleaners that may contain cyanide and other harmful chemicals.

“Post-marketing surveillance activities and laboratory testing conducted by the FDA Common Services Laboratory showed that silver jewelry cleaners containing cyanide are still being sold in the market,” the FDA Advisory No. 2021-0879 said.

It added that “cases of poisoning from silver jewelry cleaners with clinical features of changes of sensorium, loss of consciousness and hemodynamic instability as possible signs and symptoms of cyanide poisoning, were documented by the National Poison and Management Control Center of the University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital up to the year of 2020.”

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