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‘Campaign posters of 6 presidential bets contain toxic substance’

Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star
âCampaign posters of 6 presidential bets contain toxic substanceâ
Pedestrians walk past a fence full of posters of politicians along E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue in Quezon City on the start of the campaign period for national positions, February 8, 2022. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) reminds aspiring candidates to take down previously posted materials that are in violation of Comelec rules to avoid sanctions.
Miguel De Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — The EcoWaste Coalition has called on the government to issue stricter guidelines against the use of cadmium in plastic products after the environmental watchdog detected high levels of the toxic substance in campaign posters of six presidential candidates for the May 9 elections.

Based on the laboratory tests it commissioned, EcoWaste said the multicolored coatings of the campaign posters of the presidential bets contained cadmium ranging from 607 to 775 parts per million. The white plastic sheet had cadmium between 384 to 546 ppm.

The group said these levels detected by SGS, a leading global testing company, were way above the 100 ppm limit for cadmium in plastics under European Union laws and World Health Organization (WHO) standards.

Cadmium belongs to the WHO’s 10 “chemicals of major public health concern.”

Earlier, the WHO warned that cadmium, a known human carcinogen, exerts toxic effects on the kidneys as well as the skeletal and respiratory systems even at a very low level of exposure.

The campaign posters bear the names and faces of six presidential candidates: Vice President Leni Robredo, Senators Panfilo Lacson and Manny Pacquiao, former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and labor leader Leodegario de Guzman.

EcoWaste said the posters, which are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, were obtained from individuals supporting the candidates.

The group said it failed to collect posters from the other four presidential contenders: former presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, former defense secretary Norberto Gonzales, Faisal Mangondato and physician Jose Montemayor Jr.

While the Commission on Elections encourages candidates to avoid campaign materials laden with hazardous substances, there is no national policy regulating cadmium in plastics such as PVC-based tarpaulins, EcoWaste said.

“Political parties and candidates will need a clearer guidance from the authorities on which campaign materials are free of hazardous substance. We hope that the Comelec will be supported by government agencies so it can require, not only encourage, the use of zero waste and toxics-free campaign posters in future elections,” Jove Benosa, EcoWaste Zero Waste campaigner, said.

EcoWaste said there is an urgent need for the government to phase out cadmium “use in plastics as colorant or stabilizer.”

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