Environment groups calls for banning of baby wipes with hazardous chemicals

By Chito Chavez

Quezon City-based environmental group EcoWaste Coalition called on local executives to emulate the ordinance passed by Baguio City that bans the sale of chemical-laced baby wipes that are harmful to infants and toddlers.

City Ordinance No. 8, series of 2020, entitled “Prohibiting the Sale of Wet Wipes and Other Similar Baby Products with Harmful Ingredients in the City of Baguio” authored by Vice Mayor Faustino Olowan was passed by the City Council on January 20 on the motion of Councilor Philian Louise Weygan-Allan and seconded by Councilors Joel Alangsab and Elaine Sembrano, and subsequently approved by Mayor Benjamin Magalong on January 28.

After being duly posted and published, the said ordinance is now effective in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act 7160, the Local Government Code of 1991.

“We congratulate the Baguio City Government for enacting this ordinance that will protect consumers, especially newborns, infants, and toddlers, from certain substances in wet wipes that can provoke contact dermatitis,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

According to the World Allergy Organization, a global federation of allergy, asthma, and clinical immunology societies, “contact dermatitis is a skin disorder characterized by redness, itching, and vesiculation resulting from contact with environmental substances that elicits an allergic and/or irritant response.”

“The baby’s delicate skin is most vulnerable to irritation and allergic reactions, so we consider the adoption of this ordinance as a baby-friendly act worthy of being replicated by other local government units,” Dizon said.

“Kudos to the Committee on Market, Trade, Commerce and Agriculture chaired by Councilor Weygan-Allan for successfully shepherding the ordinance through the Council,” Dizon, who served as a resource person for the committee's public hearing last November 21, 2019, added.

The ordinance prohibits the sale of wet wipes and similar baby products containing iodopropynyl butylcarbamate (IPBC), methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI), methylisothiazolinone (MIT) and parabens.

Among the initial list of non-compliant baby wipes not allowed to be sold in the city are Dong Bang, Dong Bang Yao Baby Tender, Family Treasure Baby Tender, Sky Fire, Giggley and Super Soft Skin Care Towel. Other wet wipe products containing harmful IPBC, MCT, MIT, and parabens shall be prohibited.

The ordinance assigns the City Health Services Office, in coordination with the Public Order and Safety Division of the City Mayor’s Office, the City Police Office, and the barangays to inspect retail outlets and to confiscate harmful and banned products.

Business establishments found to have violated the ordinance shall be fined P1,000 for the first offense and immediate closure for establishments without a business permit, P3,000 for the second offense and closure until compliance, and P5,000 for the third offense and non-renewal of business permit.

Businesses and individuals who voluntarily surrender non-compliant products to the City Health Services Office shall not be penalized.

The City Health Services Office, in coordination with the Food and Drug Administration, and the City Environment and Parks Management Office shall determine the appropriate and environment-friendly disposal of the surrendered products.