7 December 2016, Quezon City. A toxics watch group decried the unabated sale in Davao City of dangerous cosmetics banned by the national health authorities for containing mercury, a highly toxic chemical.
The EcoWaste Coalition revealed that it was able to buy last weekend eight imported skin whitening facial creams that were among those banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for containing mercury beyond the “allowable limit” of one part per million (ppm).
“We are appalled at the ease of buying such contraband cosmetics that are heavily laden with mercury. This is a threat to public health. The people have the right not to be exposed to hazardous substances that can endanger life and the environment. For the record, this is not the first time that we have found such dangerous goods being sold in Davao City,” stated Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect, who recently visited the city for a public forum on the pitfalls of thermal waste-to-energy technologies at the Ateneo de Davao University.
Dizon purchased the products himself for P50 to P140 each from discount retailers at DCLA Plaza along Ramon Magsaysay Avenue.
Based on the chemical screening conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, six of the eight samples were found to contain mercury ranging from 391 to 2,991 ppm, way above the one ppm limit.
Among those found contaminated with mercury were six variants of Jiaoli and S’zitang skin whitening creams banned by the FDA. The other two banned products, Bihuayn and Erna skin whitening creams, were found negative for mercury.
Users of mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics may experience skin discoloration, rashes and scarring and reduced skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, while repeated applications can cause damage to the brain, the nervous system and the kidneys, according to the World Health Organization, which has listed mercury as one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern.”
“To finally bring this unlawful trade to a close, we urge the offices of the FDA and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Region XI to undertake immediate law enforcement action and bring the culprits to court,” Dizon suggested.
“This will be a good test case for the FDA and the PNP following the signing last week of a Memorandum of Agreement aimed at strengthening the the enforcement of FDA-implemented health laws,” he noted.
Last November 28, the PNP led by Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa and the FDA led by Director General Nela Charade Puno signed an agreement deputizing the PNP to assist and augment FDA’s capabilities in the conduct of pre- and post- market surveillance activities and operations.
The PNP, with proper authorization from the FDA, shall conduct necessary investigation, search and seizure, as well as apprehend erring individuals and entities responsible for the proliferation of unregistered, counterfeit, adulterated, misbranded or substandard health products in the market.
The EcoWaste Coalition had already reported the matter to the FDA headquarters in Muntinlupa City.