The EcoWaste Coalition, a health and environmental watchdog, welcomed the latest public health warning from the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) banning seven brands of imported skin whitening creams laden with toxic mercury.
“These smuggled skin lightening creams contain mercury that can be directly absorbed by the skin and lead to serious side effects. Mercury is very bad for your health as it can cause dermal, neurological, psychiatric and renal problems,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“The use of such creams by pregnant women, lactating mothers and caregivers is a special concern since fetuses, babies and children are extremely sensitive to mercury exposure even at low doses. Pregnant women, for example, can pass the mercury to babies in the womb,” she emphasized.
The seven mercury-tainted cosmetics were obtained by the group from unauthorized cosmetics retailers in Cebu, Manila, Pasay and Paranaque Cities and submitted to the FDA last month for confirmatory analysis and recall action.
As per the FDA Advisory, the importation, distribution and of the following products is illegal:
1. BG Ginseng & Ganoderma Lucidum 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Sun Block Cream
2. BG Sea Pearl & Papaya Natural Essence 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Sun Block Cream
3. Feique Herbal Extract Chinese Formula Whitening Anti-Freckle Set
4. Golden Pearl Beauty Cream
5. Jiaoli Huichusu Intensive Whitening, Sunscreen and Spots Removing Set
6. Jiaoli Herbs Essence Whitening AB Set
EcoWaste Coalition appealed to dealers of the banned items to desist from selling them and to contact the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for advice on environmentally-sound disposal of the remaining stocks.
EcoWaste Coalition also urged users of the proscribed products to immediately stop using them and to consult healthcare professionals for information on health effects and possible interventions.
Finally, EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to cautiously read product labels, shun products with incomplete and incomprehensible information and choose FDA-registered cosmetics.
The group further reminded consumers to ask for official receipts from dealers, which could come handy in filing consumer complaints.
Symptoms of mercury exposure may include dermatitis, difficulty in concentration, impaired eyesight and hearing, insomnia, irritability, memory loss, tremors in the arms and legs and kidney failure in the most severe cases.
According to the World Health Organization, mercury in skin lightening products can cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal