DENR tightens regulation on ‘highly toxic’ cadmium


The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will be enforcing a policy regulating the use of cadmium, a highly toxic chemical and a known human carcinogen.

DENR Administrative Order 2021-08 or the Chemical Control Order (CCO) for Cadmium and Cadmium Compounds aims to protect human health and the environment from the cancer-causing chemical.

While the DAO imposing the chemical control on cadmium and cadmium compounds was signed on May 6, 2021, by Environment  Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, it was only last October 22, 2021, that the order was published in a newspaper of nationwide circulation finally putting the policy legally in effect.

The CCO, which will take effect this November, requires any person or entity engaged in the importation, manufacture, distribution, and industrial use of cadmium and cadmium compounds to register with and obtain importation clearance from the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).

Applicants are further required to meet the specified requirements pertaining to the importation, manufacturing, chemical management plan, emergency, and contingency plan, labeling, workers’ training, handling, transport, treatment, storage, and disposal.

The CCO further requires any person or entity involved in the transport, recycling, treatment, storage, and disposal of cadmium-containing wastes to register and comply with all the applicable provisions of the rules and regulations on hazardous waste management under Republic Act 6969, or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990.

Classified as one of the “10 chemicals of major public health concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO), “cadmium exerts toxic effects on the kidney, the skeletal system, and the respiratory system and is classified as a human carcinogen,” according to WHO.

Environmental groups under the Ecowaste Coalition (EcoWaste) that has been lobbying since 2016 for the adoption of a chemical control order that will prohibit or restrict the use of the cancer-causing chemical and its compounds welcomed the new policy.

“We welcome this policy issuance by the DENR regulating industry use of cadmium as this can contribute to safeguarding the health of workers and the general public from the adverse effects of exposure to this highly toxic element,” Thony Dizon, the group’s chemical safety campaigner said in a news statement.

Dizon said the new policy would hopefully minimize, if not eliminate, cadmium emissions and discharges from human activities, notably in waste management and disposal.

“The tightened regulation on the management of cadmium-containing wastes is essential to prevent and reduce cadmium releases into the environment from the recycling, open dumping, landfilling, open burning and incineration of such wastes,” Dizon stated.

However, the CCO does not cover cadmium and cadmium compounds in batteries, ceramics, cosmetics, electronics, jewelry, plastics, toys, and others.

Because of this, Dizon said other regulatory agencies should adopt and/or enforce health-protective controls or restrictions on the cadmium content in products and materials under their jurisdiction to protect consumers and the environment.

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