Cosmetics imported from Pakistan and sold without proper market authorization in Pasay City.
As the 86 contenders for the Miss Universe crown mesmerize our pageant-obsessed nation, a toxics watch group warned beauty-conscious Filipinos against using cosmetics laden with hazardous substances that can eventually ruin their appearance and health.
The EcoWaste Coalition aired its latest toxic alert after finding eye liners and skin lightening creams imported from Pakistan (not from the usual suspect China) with alarmingly high concentrations of mercury, lead and cadmium.
The group bought samples of Pakistani cosmetics from a garment retail shop in Baclaran Bagong Milenyo Plaza in Pasay City last January 27 and 28 and subsequently screened them for toxic metals using a handy X-Ray Fluorescence analyzer.
Parley Beauty Cream (PHP 250) and Golden Pearl Beauty Cream (PHP 250) were found to contain 19,900 and 11,600 parts per million (ppm) of mercury, while a Hashmi Surma Special (PHP 150) eyeliner was found to contain over 100,000 ppm of lead, exceeding the allowable limits of 1 ppm for mercury and 20 ppm for lead under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive (ACD). Hashmi was further found to contain 5,861 ppm of cadmium, way above the ACD limit of 5 ppm.
“These products, which are being sold without proper market authorization, pose serious chemical and health risks because of their excessive mercury, lead and cadmium content, which are nowhere to be found in their lists of ingredients,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Cosmetics containing these toxic metals can damage your health and as a result have been prohibited in many countries,” she said.
“In fact, Golden Pearl Beauty Cream was among the seven skin whitening products banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in September 2014 after confirmatory laboratory analysis revealed ‘violative levels of mercury in the samples provided by EcoWaste,” she pointed out.
“Health authorities in US, Canada and France have likewise banned Hashmi and other lead-containing eye cosmetics as a preventive measure against lead exposure,” she added.
Very recently, the London Trading Standards announced on January 12, 2017 that it has fined 15 cosmetic shops in 2016 for £168,579 (PHP 10,541,526) for selling unsafe merchandises, including “Golden Pearl Beauty Cream, “containing dangerous and prohibited levels of hydroquinone, mercury or corticosteroids.”
To prevent exposure to mercury, lead and cadmium in cosmetics, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to carefully read the product labels, reject those with incomplete and incomprehensible information, seek products with the required market authorization from the FDA and only buy notified products from legitimate retailers.
The group emphasized that the safest way for consumers to protect themselves against exposure to toxic metals and other harmful substances in cosmetics is to avoid the use of adulterated, imitation and unauthorized beauty products that have not undergone safety evaluation.
Mercury, lead and cadmium are considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) as among the “ten chemicals of major public health concern.”
According to the WHO, mercury poses a particular threat to the development of the child in utero and early in life and, depending on its form, will have different toxic effects, including on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes.
Lead is a cumulative toxicant affecting multiple body systems, including the neurologic, hematologic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and renal systems, the WHO said.
Cadmium, the WHO warned, exerts toxic effects on the kidney, the skeletal and the respiratory systems, and is classified as a human carcinogen.
The EcoWaste Coalition vowed to continue its market monitoring across the country to help the authorities in stemming the illegal trade of dangerous products that can put the health of the people and the environment at risk, as well as aggravate the country’s problem with toxic and hazardous waste.