01 February 2012

EcoWaste Coalition Gives "Lason Award," Hits Stores Selling Mercury-Tainted Facial Creams

(Photos from the top: 1) Engr. Ramir Castro of QES (Manila), Inc. tests the samples with XRF, 2) Purchase receipts of samples, 3) Top 10 samples with most mercury, 4) 20 samples all containing mercury)

A toxics watchdog has upped the ante on safe cosmetics advocacy by taking to task dealers of illegal skin whitening creams containing huge quantities of mercury, an extremely toxic chemical.

In its pre-Valentine press statement, the EcoWaste Coalition took the bold step of identifying vendors of mercury-tainted facial creams and giving them the “Lason Award” for selling the contraband goods that exceeded the government regulatory limit of one part per million (ppm) for mercury in cosmetics.

“We have taken this step of naming the erring vendors to push them to have a heart and stop the illegal trade of poison cosmetics," said Aileen Lucero, Safe Cosmetics Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

"We urge our cosmetics regulators to apply the full force of the law and hold the culprits accountable," she stated.

"Through our action, we also hope to raise consumer awareness and vigilance about the hazards of mercury exposure from dirtied skin whitening creams,” said Aileen Lucero, Safe Cosmetics Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

The group conducted its latest round of test buys of skin whitening products on January 28-February 1 in the cities of Makati, Manila and Quezon and had them screened for mercury using the X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer on February 1.

All the 20 samples had mercury above 1 ppm with “Beauty Girl 10 Double Whitening Speckles Removed Essence Cream (Natural Olive and Sheep)”, banned since 2010, being the "dirtiest" with mercury at 72,100 ppm.

Of these 20, 10 were among the 50 skin whitening products banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year, following an exposé by the EcoWaste Coalition and its partner IPEN, a global civil society network working for a toxic-free future.

Nine of the mercury-tainted samples were procured from the various outlets of Rose and Fujikura General Merchandise in Barangay Guadalupe Nuevo and Barangay Sta. Cruz in Makati City with official receipts given, making it the runaway winner of the first ever “Lason Award” for skin whitening cream category.

R.L. Tarinque General Merchandise at stall 1A-45 of 168 Mall (dealer of three mercury-laced skin lightening products), Clarita Valeriano Merchandise, Cheng En Chinese Drug Store, Kaften Beauty Shop and Kimsheng Chinese Drug Store situated in Binondo, Quiapo and Sta. Cruz, Manila and Kaka Chinese Drug Store in Cubao, Quezon City were likewise chided for selling toxic creams.

The top 10 products with the most mercury were 1) Beauty Girl 10 Double Whitening Speckles Removed Essence Cream (Natural Olive and Sheep), 72,100 ppm, 2) Bai Li Tou Hong, 65,700 ppm, 3) Ailke Perfection Salvation Rosy Whitening A + B, 55,300 ppm, 4) Long Dian Tu Glutathione Pearl Natural Whitening Essence Cream, 50,800 ppm, and 5) Beauty Girl 10-Day Whitening Speckles Removed Essence Cream (Ginseng and Green Cucumber), 48,300 ppm.

Completing the top 10 were 6) Feique Rose Refining Nourishing Set Cream, 30,200 ppm, 7) Jonathan 12-day Clearing Facial Spots Cream, 24,500 ppm, 8) Feique Whitening Anti-Freckle Cream (Russian characters), 22,200 ppm, 9) Feique Golden Aloe Whitening Anti-Scar Anti-Freckle Set, 19,600 ppm and 10) Lamb Placenta Whitening and Anti-Aging Cream, 12,200 ppm.

Citing information from the World Health Organization (WHO), the EcoWaste Coalition warned that the mercury in skin lightening products can damage the kidney and also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections. Other effects include anxiety, depression or psychosis and peripheral neuropathy.

According to WHO, mercury in soaps, creams and other cosmetic products is eventually discharged into wastewater. The mercury then enters the environment, where it becomes methylated and enters the food-chain as the highly toxic methylmercury in fish.

Pregnant women who consume fish containing methylmercury transfer the mercury to their fetuses, which can later result in neurodevelopmental deficits in the children, the WHO said.

Mercury in personal care products such as skin whitening creams and soaps has become a hot issue not only in the Philippines but also overseas.

In the United States, for instance, California health officials has announced that it will collect and test skin whitening products this week for possible mercury contamination.

-end-

Reference:
http://www.who.int/ipcs/assessment/public_health/mercury_flyer.pdf

Skin whitening creams with mercury as tested by the EcoWaste Coalition on February 1, 2012 (arranged according to their mercury contents):

1. Beauty Girl 10 Double Whitening Speckles Removed Essence Cream (Natural Olive and Sheep), 72,100 ppm
2. Bai Li Tou Hong, 65,700 ppm
3. Ailke Perfection Salvation Rosy Whitening A + B, 55,300 ppm
4. Long Dian Tu Glutathione Pearl Natural Whitening Essence Cream, 50,800 ppm.
5. Beauty Girl 10-Day Whitening Speckles Removed Essence Cream (Ginseng and Green Cucumber), 48,300 ppm
6. Feique Rose Refining Nourishing Set Cream, 30,200 ppm
7. Jonathan 12-day Clearing Facial Spots Cream, 24,500 ppm
8. Feique Whitening Anti-Freckle Cream (Russian characters), 22,200 ppm
9. Feique Golden Aloe Whitening Anti-Scar Anti-Freckle Set, 19,600 ppm
10. Lamb Placenta Whitening and Anti-Aging Cream, 12,200 ppm
11. Forever Beauty 10-Day Special Cream, 12,100 ppm
12. Beauty Girl 10-Day Whitening Speckles Removed Essence Cream (Aloe Pearl), 11,100 ppm
13. S'Zitang 10-Day Whitening and Spot Day-Night Set, 6,169 ppm
14. Jiao Li 7-Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB set, 6,026 ppm
15. Jiao Li 2 + 1 7-Day Clearing Facial Spots Suit, 5,006 ppm
16. Beauty Girl Double White SPF17AP Whitening Cream, 3,998 ppm
17. “Special Cream, two in one” (Chinese characters) , 1,745 ppm
18. “Special Cream, single” (Chinese characters), 1,567 ppm
19. JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream, 1,130 ppm
20. Jiao Li Miraculous Cream, 1.3 ppm

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