Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Change your Production & Consumption Pattern before Lose our Productive Lands

MEDIA BRIEFING!                                                
17th of June 2020- World day to combat Desertification & Drought.

Every year on the 17th of June the United Nations celebrates the WORLD DAY TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION & DROUGHT. This year’s observance is focused on changing public attitudes to the leading driver of desertification and land degradation.

As populations become larger, wealthier and more urban, there is a far greater demand for land especially to provide food, animal feed and fiber for clothing. Meanwhile, the health and productivity of existing arable land is declining, which has worsened by climate change. Food, Feed and Fiber which is the theme of the United Nations for 2020 must also compete with expanding cities and the fuel industry. The end result is that land is being converted and degraded at unsustainable rates, damaging production, ecosystems and biodiversity.To have enough productive land to meet the demands of ten billion people by 2050, lifestyles need to change.

Mr. Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director of the Centre for Environmental Justice stated that : “More than 4 million square kilometers of land in the world are becoming uncultivated every year. Preservation by the people and communities is the only way to prevent the conversion of cultivable land into barren land. Adding industrial chemicals that are unsuitable for the soil can cause soil to become degraded. Also, using the machinery will wash away the soil. If this is not controlled, the situation will increase annually”.  
It has been estimated that nearly one third of the land in Sri Lanka is subjected to soil erosion, the erodible proportion ranging from less than 10.0% in some districts to over 50.0% in others. It has also been estimated that at least 30.0% tea lands in Sri Lanka can be considered as marginal or uneconomic. A study conducted by Resources Management Centre in the Central Province of Sri Lanka has shown that 63% of the land degradation is primarily caused by soil erosion, whilst biological degradation and fertility loss accounted for 20% and 17% respectively.
“The Government of Sri Lanka must come up with clear policies for this and every Sri Lankan citizen should take immediate steps to protect the soil and stop the destructive land use pattern. ” Withanage added.

With the urbanization, many have moved away from the bonds of nature and moved towards a digitalized world. Food, Feed & Fiber are essential to our daily life, many of which start at the very lowest level. However, in this digital world, all of the above can be easily purchased from stores, and we, for the most part, ignore the benefits that trees and nature provide to human beings.

On the International Day against Desertification and Drought, the Center for Environmental Justice calls everyone to better understand the relationship between what people purchase and the damage done to mother earth.

For more Information please contact: 
Mr. Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director - 0777600503

Media Division
Centre for Environmental Justice

Tuesday, May 12, 2020



Indika Rajapaksha,(B.Sc)

Environmental Officer, Centre for Environmental Justice


We see that many people use disinfectants for controlling COVID 19 virus without understanding the toxicity of the chemical. Prior to using a chemical disinfectant always consult the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the efficacy of the disinfectant against the biohazards and be sure to allow for sufficient contact time. Read label instructions on products to be followed (e.g., use- dilution, shelf life, storage, material compatibility, safe use, and disposal, the appropriate protective equipment for handling the disinfectant and disposal of disinfected treated materials.). Do not attempt to use a chemical disinfectant for a purpose it was not designed for.


WHO recommend to maintain hand hygiene with an alcohol-based hand rub for 20−30 seconds using the appropriate technique. If an alcohol-based hand rub and soap are not available, then using chlorinated water (0.05%) for hand washing is an option, but it is not ideal because frequent use may lead to dermatitis, which could increase the risk of infection and asthma and because prepared dilutions might be inaccurate. However, if other options are not available or feasible, using chlorinated water for hand washing is an option. WHO recommends using 70% ethyl alcohol to disinfect small areas between uses, such as reusable dedicated equipment (for example, thermometers) sodium hypochlorite at 0.5% (equivalent to 5000 ppm) for disinfecting surfaces.


Alcohols work through the disruption of cellular membranes, solubilization of lipids, and denaturation of proteins by acting directly on S-H functional groups. Ethyl and isopropyl alcohols are the two most widely used alcohols for their biocidal activity. These alcohols are effective against lipid-containing viruses and a broad spectrum of bacterial species. Ethyl alcohol, at concentrations of 60%–80%, is a potent virucidal agent inactivating all of the lipophilic viruses (e.g., herpes, vaccinia, and influenza virus) and many hydrophilic viruses. Isopropyl alcohol is not active against the nonlipid enteroviruses but is fully active against the lipid viruses.


Hypochlorites, the most widely used of the chlorine disinfectants, are available as liquid (e.g., sodium hypochlorite) or solid (e.g., calcium hypochlorite). Chlorine compounds are good disinfectants on clean surfaces, but are quickly inactivated by

organic matter, thus, reducing their biocidal activity. usually called household bleach. They have a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity, do not leave toxic residues, are unaffected by water hardness, are inexpensive and fast acting , remove dried or fixed organisms and biofilms from surfaces, and have a low incidence of serious toxicity 


Aldehydes such as Formaldehyde, Paraformaldehyde, Glutaraldehyde are used as disinfectants. Fomaldehyde and its polymerized solid paraformaldehyde have broad-spectrum biocidal activity and are both effective for surface and space decontamination. As a liquid (5% concentration), formaldehyde is an effective liquid decontaminant. Its biocidal action is through alkylation of carboxyl, hydroxyl and

sulfhydryl groups on proteins and the ring nitrogen atoms of purine bases. Formaldehyde’s drawbacks are reduction in efficacy at refrigeration temperature, its pungent, irritating odor, and several safety concerns. Formaldehyde is presently considered to be a carcinogen or a cancer-suspect agent according to several regulatory agencies.


Phenolics are phenol (carbolic acid) derivatives and typically used at 1- 5% dilutions. These biocides act through membrane damage and are effective against enveloped viruses, rickettsiae, fungi and vegetative bacteria. They also retain more activity in the presence of organic material than other disinfectants. Cresols, hexachlorophene, alkyl- and chloro derivatives and diphenyls are more active than phenol itself. Phenol has several derivates, namely, cresol, creosote, lysol, and dettol. These are absorbed orally, through intact skin, by the GI tract, through inhalation by the respiratory tract, per rectum, and per vaginum. The toxicological actions of these compounds are similar to phenol but less severe. They should not spray unwisely. They have low concern on Skin Allergy and irritation, Moderate concern on Asthma, Cancer and environment while High concern on developmental and reproductive toxicity.  Its potentially harmful for developmental, endocrine, reproduction health including damage to DNA.


WHO has clearly stated that, in no way will consumption of alcohol protect you from COVID-19 or prevent you from being infected by it. Consuming alcohol will not destroy the virus, and its consumption is likely to increase the health risks if a person becomes infected with the virus. Alcohol works as a disinfectant on your skin, but it has no such effect within your system when ingested. Unfortunately, other toxic substances that may smell like ethanol can be added in adulterated beverages that are produced informally or illegally; or they may be present in alcoholic products that are not intended for human consumption, such as hand disinfectant. Added substances such as methanol can be fatal even in small amounts or may lead to blind­ness and kidney disease, among other problems. More than 700 people died after drinking methyl alcohol to cure corona virus recently.


It is essential to disinfect surfaces that are highly or frequently touched by public, such as hand railings, doorknobs, poles on transit vehicles, elevator buttons, park/ street benches etc. In the same time, public or sanitation workers must use them with care with protective equipment and their supervisors must make sure disinfectant is applied in a proper manner. CORONA is a hidden enemy and disinfectant used in proper manner can save many lives by containing the spread of virus.(END)

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Dismantle Patriarchy, Not the Planet!

March 8, 2020, Colombo, Sri Lanka

March 8 mark the International Day of women! Women around the world continue to face many difficulties despite more attention on women’s rights at both national and international level. Sri Lanka has alarming rate of the increase of rape, sexual harassment in the public places and domestic violence. The young girls become common victim of these incidents. It’s sad to note that the law enforcement is very weak on these matters. 

Women in the frontline communities face patriarchy and continue to suffer from violence, rape and the difficulties during the struggles related to destruction of nature, climate change and resource grabbing. Women face more difficulties during the disasters. Lack of adequate sanitation, access to clean water and fire wood makes women life more difficult. Their safety is not guaranteed during the increasing disasters due to the destruction of nature by this patriarchal system. Women affected by Uma Oya destruction, Norochcholai Coal power plant and those fighting against land grabbing for a sugarcane plantation in Rideemaliyadda continue to struggle for life, clean water, clean air and good health and right to nature. 

Women in the work place also face severe constraints due to patriarchy. The recent incidents related to the mangrove island in Negombo and grabbing lands in Beraliya Mukalana in Galle shows that most top women government servants also face difficulties due to patriarchy of the political leadership.

Sri Lanka presented the first female prime minister to the world. In Sri Lanka, women has the Constitutional freedom and right to vote and participating political activities.  Despite the statutory freedom, women participation in Sri Lankan politics has been one of the lowest in South Asia.

However the local government marked the inaugural implementation of the statutes of 25% out of the elected candidates had to be women. Ironically,  after the election the Election Commission stated that there were no legal means to appoint female members to these councils as the political parties had either not won more than 20% of votes each and were not obligated to appoint female members or had no more female members to appoint. Therefore, women representation in decisions making and governance is also a great challenge in this system.

This world is facing serious crisis due to this patriarchy. The climate crisis is one of the latest resulted from this system.

In this women’s day we join the women around the world who are struggling against patriarchy, destroying the planet, resource grabbing and violence against women to demand dismantle patriarchy and make sure that women has equal rights and representation. We demand that women specific issues should be addressed immediately and give gender justice. 


Centre for Environmental Justice / Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Floods to Court

30 November 2010. A petition, seeking an order to ensure the removal of all the obstacles that create water to stagnate in the Western province, mainly in the Colombo city was submitted to the Western Provincial High Court today by the Centre for Environmental Justice. Recent floods in Colombo is a result of the unplanned activities including filling of wetlands.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

More Paint brands found with high lead levels

Press Release

06th April 2010, Colombo- As a reAdd Imagesult of the continuous research on lead in paint, Centre for Environmental Justice found another three paint brands with high lead levels including a brand which has obtained the SLS standard.

The latest results show that 10 enamel paint samples out of 14 samples tested contain lead as high as 42495 mg/kg. The paints with yellow, green and orange colours contain high lead levels.

It is unfortunate that while most paint manufacturers produce lead free paint for the international market, they still produce leaded paints for the local market. This is a grave injustice for the local consumers.

Therefore we demand all leaded paint to be removed from the local market as well. We also request the paint manufacturers to establish a mechanism to give free advice to the local consumers on safe removal of old lead paint and application of new lead free paint.

We advise all the paint consumers to avoid lead paint and always request lead free paint from the retail shop.

We believe that it is time for the Consumer Affairs Authority and other agencies to accelerate their actions to protect consumers from lead paint.

Lead in paint is highly toxic to the children. Eliminate lead paints and save your child.

Buy only lead free paint this New Year Season.

More information

Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director
Chamali Liyanage, Environmental Officer

Centre for Environmental Justice
Tel: 0112683282 email: info@ejustice.lk

Monday, March 15, 2010

Paint manufacturers must protect children’s health

Appeal to recall all leaded paints in the market
Press Release

15 March 2010, Colombo- We are alarmed by the massive green washing campaign conducted by paint manufacturers regarding the lead in paint research conducted by Toxics Link and IPEN in collaboration with the Centre for Environmental Justice, Sri Lanka and ten countries.

“Instead of pin pointing faults of the research, paint industries have a moral responsibility to test their products themselves and bring down the levels of heavy metals including lead, to the acceptable standards for protecting the health of children in Sri Lanka” says Hemantha Withanage of the Centre for Environmental Justice.

The Paint Manufacturers’ Association claims in their advertisement appearing in some news papers on 14th March 2010 titled “The Truth” that they have “collectively undertaken to reduce and eliminate harmful substances in their products portfolio including lead, mercury and chromium to internationally accepted levels.” However, they also say that “we absolve ourselves from paints imported into Sri Lanka as well as manufactured by a large number of unregulated small-time manufacturers.”

We thank Paint Manufacturers’ Association and some individual companies for their active engagement in the aftermath discussions of the launching of research findings. However, as a public interest Environmental Group we are concerned about the entire paint industry. As part of the Corporate Social Responsibility we believe that it is their responsibility to eliminate lead. Therefore, we urge paint companies to eliminate lead in the new decorative paints and also recall all their decorative paint products with high lead concentration available for sale in the market.

Once again we reiterate that 68% of enamel paint samples tested revealed very high lead levels. It was found that some samples contain lead as high as 137, 325 ppm. We also reiterate that no manufacturer or retailer of paints in Sri Lanka can claim that their paints are free of lead without presenting systematic, independent test results that can substantiate such a claim.

We are very much concerned about the dead silence of the Government agencies regarding this matter. It is clear that except some products, others do not adhere to the current SLS standards which were produced in 1990. These voluntary standards are not sufficient for eliminating lead in paint. Lead in paints has poisoned the nation over several decades due to failure of the government agencies to regulate the industry. Once again we reiterate that the Consumer Affairs Authority, Ministry of Health and Nutrition, Sri Lanka Standards Institution should take action to provide mandatory standards and to enact rules and regulations to control the paint industry. The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, who is a party to Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) which is a policy framework to foster the sound management of chemicals, should take immediate action to eliminate lead in paints which has affected over 40 million children worldwide.

For over half a century the paint industry has been aware of the grave health impacts that lead in paints has on children who lick baby cots, suckle toys, or simply ingest lead laden household dust. Lead can irreversibly lower IQ, and also cause a series of co-ordination skill deficiencies.

Centre for Environmental Justice

More information pleases contact: Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director and Chamali Liyanage, Environmental Officer. Telephone 0112683282 email: info@ejustice.lk

Monday, March 08, 2010

Mandatory Standards necessary for decorative paints in Sri Lanka

Press Release

08 March 2010, Colombo- This refers to the Lead in Decorative paints Global Study conducted by the Toxics Link and International POPs Elimination Network in collaboration with the Centre for Environmental Justice, Sri Lanka and other organisations in ten countries.

The research was carried out only for the randomly selected products of four brands out of dozens of brands available in Sri Lanka. It was found that all samples contain lead in different levels which are as low as 4 ppm to as high as 137, 325 ppm. Except one brand, other enamel paint samples exceed the permitted level which is 600 ppm as per the SLS standards.

No limit has been mentioned in the SLS standards for emulsion paints. The limit given under the United States is only 90 ppm. Except one sample, all other emulsion paint samples contained less than 90 ppm of total lead concentration.

It has been brought to our notice that one paint manufacturer in Sri Lanka has claimed that they are the only Sri Lankan brand whose paints are safe from lead and environment friendly according to the international standards. Meanwhile, one or more manufacturers claim that they too have lead free paint. We believe that no manufacturer or retailer of paints in Sri Lanka can claim that their paints are free of lead without presenting systematic, independent test results that can verify such a claim. We like to bring to the notice of general public that "Our tests were not exhaustive, we did not test paint from every manufacturer, and we only did random sampling from a few manufacturers. We therefore advice refrain from taking undue competitive advantage from the study.

Mr. Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director of the Centre for Environmental Justice said that “current SLS voluntary standards are not sufficient for curbing lead in Paint. We are very concern about the silence of the Government agencies. It is our understanding that the Consumer Affairs Authority, Ministry of Health and Nutrition, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and Sri Lanka Standards Institution should take actions to provide MANDATORY STANDARDS and to ENACT REGULATIONS for manufacturers to comply with.”

Lead has been recognized as a prime toxic by WHO, impacting over 40 million children worldwide. Lead in paints had been responsible throughout the world for being a silent poison – particularly when used on walls and items that children would lick or chew.

Centre for Environmental Justice

More information please contact: Hemantha Withanage, Executive Director and Chamali Liyanage, Environmental Officer Telephone 0112683282 email: info@ejustice.lk

Change your Production & Consumption Pattern before Lose our Productive Lands

2020.06.17 MEDIA BRIEFING!                                                 17 th of June 2020- World day to combat Desertification &a...