17 February 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Prods Consumers to Follow FDA’s Public Health Warnings vs. Unnotified Cosmetics

Assorted cosmetics without the required product notifications as collected by the EcoWaste Coalition from various retailers in July 2016.

“Better safe than sorry.”

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit watch group for public health and the environment, urged consumers to take the government’s public health warnings very seriously to avoid potential adverse health effects from the use of unnotified cosmetic products.

The group appealed for consumer vigilance against beauty products lacking the required cosmetic product notifications from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after the agency issued successive advisories warning the public against a total of 109 unnotified cosmetic products.

Yesterday, the FDA uploaded several advisories directing consumers not to buy and use such unnotified cosmetic products as “the agency cannot guarantee their quality and safety.”

Last year, the agency released similar public health warnings against over 150 unnotified cosmetic products.

Among these unnotified cosmetics are imported and locally-produced baby oil and lotion; bath soap; hand and body lotion;  lip balm and lipstick; hair color, shampoo and conditioner; makeup; nail glue; skin whitening cream, lotion and soap; sunblock; and talcum powder products.

“We appeal to all consumers, especially the budget but not safety conscious ones, to take the FDA’s health advisories to heart as the use of unnotified cosmetics may harm your health.  It’s better to be safe than sorry,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“The side effects from the use of such cosmetics may not be immediately known or visible to the naked eyes, so it’s better to opt for products that passed quality and safety assurance,” he emphasized.

“Our own experience in screening chemicals in products during the last five years shows high levels of toxic metal contamination in unnotified cosmetics such as mercury in skin whitening creams and arsenic, cadmium and lead in lipsticks,” he pointed out.

According to the FDA advisories, unnotified cosmetics “have not been issued the proper authorization in the form of acknowledged cosmetic notifications.”

“Because unnotified cosmetic products have not gone through the verification process of the FDA, the agency cannot guarantee their quality and safety,” it said.

“Potential hazards may come from ingredients that are not allowed to be part of a cosmetic product or from the contamination of heavy metals such as mercury especially in whitening cosmetic products,” the FDA warned.

“The use of substandard and possibly adulterated cosmetic products may result to adverse reactions including but not limited to skin irritation, itchiness, anaphylactic shock and organ failure,” it further warned.

To avoid potential health damage from the use of such cosmetics, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to shun products that lack complete and understandable labeling information; are marketed by unauthorized sellers and sold too cheaply to be true; and do not appear in the FDA’s database of cosmetics with valid product notifications.

The group also told consumers to watch out for products that are illegally using the FDA logo to deceive consumers that such products are approved, endorsed or authorized by the agency.

The group cited FDA Memorandum Circular 2013-030, which prohibits the “use of the FDA logo, the words “Food and Drug Administration” or “Philippine FDA,” the initials “FDA,” or any imitation of such words, initials or logo in print and other forms of broadcast media… in connection with any health product or merchandise… that convey that such use is approval, endorsement or authorization by the FDA.”

The group reiterated that Republic Act No. 9711, or the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009, prohibits the manufacture, importation, exportation, sale, offering for sale, distribution, transfer, non-consumer use, promotion, advertising or sponsorship of health products without the proper authorization from the FDA.

“We encourage consumers of cosmetics and personal care products to make it a habit to visit the FDA website at www.fda.gov.ph for the latest public health warnings and other important announcements from the agency,” Dizon stated. 


Links to recent FDA advisories against unnotified cosmetics:


13 February 2017

Watch Out for Carcinogenic Cadmium in Lipstick

After reporting the presence of lead, a neurotoxin, in some imitation lipsticks, the EcoWaste Coalition today revealed that it has found a lipstick that is laden with cadmium, a carcinogen.

The group revealed that Baolishi #25, which has no cosmetic product notification from the country’s health authorities, contains 2,478 parts per million (ppm) of cadmium based on the screening it conducted using an X-Ray Fluorescence device.

“The cadmium content of this lipstick, which costs only P25, is outrageously way above the 5 ppm trace limit under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive (ACD),” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Cadmium and its compounds, in fact, are not permitted in any cosmetic formulation,” she added.

Cadmium and cadmium compounds, the EcoWaste Coalition said, are listed in Part 1 of Annex II of the ACD, or the “list of substances which must not form part of the composition of cosmetic products.”

“Fortunately, we only found one cadmium-contaminated lipstick in the recent market investigation that saw us buying and screening 100 lipstick  samples for heavy metals,” Lucero said.

“Even so, it is still an issue of concern since cadmium is toxic and cancer-causing.  Also, it is possible that this unregistered lipstick is sold in other parts of the country,” she added.

According to the World Health Organization, “cadmium exerts toxic effects on the kidneys, the skeletal and respiratory systems, and is classified as a human carcinogen.”

Cadmium is among the “ten chemicals of major public health concern,” according to the WHO.

To prevent exposure to cadmium and other heavy metals in lipsticks, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated its advice to consumers against patronizing products that are not notified with the  Food and Drug Administration (FDA) like the Baolishi lipstick.

According to the FDA, “heavy metals are inherently present in pigments (colorants) and in some raw materials that are used in producing lipsticks... due to natural contamination from the environment, which are unavoidable.”

“Thus the FDA enforces strict compliance to the requirements of current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) for cosmetic products to ensure that possible contaminants are within the allowable limits set by the FDA, consistent with the ACD,” it said.

The FDA has so far authorized more than 100 brands of lipstick with several color variants per brand for the consumers to select from.

To check if a particular product is authorized by the FDA to be sold in the market, consumers can visit the agency’s website at www.fda.gov.ph and type the product name on the search bar. 


11 February 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Backs Cebu’s Customs and Environmental Authorities in Seeking the Immediate Return of South Korean Garbage

http://www.philstar.com/cebu-news/2017/02/10/1670857/importation-violated-basel-convention-boc-sendingk-trash-back (Photo by Joy Torrejos)

“Return to sender!”

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watch group based in Quezon City, has thrown its weight behind a move to quickly ship back illegal trash shipments from South Korea that entered the country through the Port of Cebu.

Through a statement, the group conveyed its support to the position made by Bureau of Customs Cebu District Collector Elvira Cruz and Environmental Management Bureau Regional Director William Cunado for the immediate shipment of the unlawful trash imports to its origin.

The trash shipments amounting to 5,000 metric tons of mixed wastes, misdeclared as “solid granular particles of wood chips and synthetic resin”, arrived in the Port of Cebu last January 20 on board M/V Christina and were consigned to Moving Forward Global Trading Inc.

“We laud and back the customs and environmental authorities in Cebu for acting fast to ensure the return of the unsorted wastes from
South Korea to its sender without delay,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We are one with them and with the people of
Cebu in asserting that our nation is not an open dumpsite for the world’s garbage,” she declared.

“The swift and unequivocal action by the authorities will send a clear signal to all people behind the illegal waste trade that dumping is not allowed in the country,” she added.

“The perpetrators should be charged in court and punish to the fullest extent of the law to deter similar incidents in the future,” she said. 

“This dumping incident is reminiscent of the still unresolved shipment of mixed household rubbish from
Canada,” she stated.

The EcoWaste Coalition expressed its hope that the illegal waste imports from
South Korea would leave the country in just few days and not suffer the same fate as the mixed waste imports from Canada.

Some 1
03 container vans of mixed household garbage from Canada disguised as scrap plastics for recycling arrived in Manila ports some time in 2013-2014 and providently intercepted by the customs authorities.

In 2015, 26
of these garbage-filled containers were illegally disposed of at a private landfill in Capas, Tarlac, while the rest are still languishing in Manila and Subic Ports.  On June 30, 2016, a Manila Regional Trial Court ordered the return to Canada of 50 of these garbage-filled shipping containers.  To date, the court order has yet to be implemented.

Also, the EcoWaste Coalition commended the concerned citizens of Barangay Tingub in
Mandaue City for reporting the reeking garbage to the authorities.

“We thank and salute the residents of Barangay Tingub for their vigilance, which helped in bringing the unlawful dumping to light,” Lucero said.

“Aside from removing the garbage left at a warehouse in Barangay Guizo and at a vacant lot in Barangay Tingub, the importer should ensure that the affected areas are safely disinfected to prevent any health risk to the public,” she said.


10 February 2017

Toxics Watch Group Alerts Consumers vs. Lipsticks Contaminated with Lead (Kissable Lips Need Not be Toxic)

As lovebirds get ready for Valentine’s Day,  a toxics watch group tipped off consumers, particularly women, against prettifying themselves with cheap but lead-laden lipsticks that are sold in the local market. 

The precautionary warning from the EcoWaste Coalition came on the heels of the group’s recent market investigation indicating the unchecked sale of lipsticks, mostly imitation products, sold at very low prices without market authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA has repeatedly warned the public against buying lipsticks that lack the required cosmetic product notifications as these products may contain high levels of heavy metals such as lead, “a proven toxicant that accumulates in the body through constant exposure and absorption over a prolonged period.”

Aside from being damaging to the brain and the central nervous system, “people with prolonged exposure to lead may also be at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and reduced fertility,” according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Women should be on the alert for dangerous substances like lead and other contaminants that may be lurking in some lipsticks, particularly counterfeit ones, that could build up in the body over time and spell trouble for the brain, the kidneys and even the heart,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“You should not spend for toxic lipsticks to get those attractive and kissable lips,” she emphasized.

“If you are not sure if your lipstick is lead-safe, better use less and avoid frequent re-application,” she suggested.

From February 4 to 9, the group bought 85 lipsticks with prices ranging from P10 to P80 each from cosmetic retail stores in Guadalupe, Makati City; Divisoria and Quiapo, Manila; Baclaran, Pasay City; and Novaliches, Quezon City. 

Out of 100 products representing 20 brands, 25 were found to contain lead between 25 to 4,093 parts per million, exceeding the 20 ppm limit under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive, as per screening using an X-Ray Fluorescence equipment.  

“While the other samples were negative for lead, we cannot say if they are totally safe from other contaminants, including unwanted microbes, as these products have not passed through the FDA’s verification procedures,” Lucero said.

Topping the list of toxic lipsticks were counterfeit MAC lipsticks such as Zac Posen # 08 and MAC Matte Lipstick #07 containing 4,093 and 3,017 ppm of lead, respectively.  Fake Zac Posen #5, #12 and #14 and phony MAC Charlotte Olympia and MAC Vivaglam were also found to contain high levels of lead.

Joining the list were three Monaliza Series lipsticks #20 with lead content amounting to 1,856 ppm, 2,004 ppm and 2,056 ppm and a faux Chanel Red Rule Matte Lipstick #18 was found to contain 581 ppm of lead.  Monaliza lipsticks were among those already banned by the FDA due to their lead content.

According to the FDA, “heavy metals are inherently present in pigments (colorants) and in some raw materials that are used in producing lipsticks.”

“Thus, the FDA enforces strict compliance to the requirements of current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) for cosmetic products to ensure that possible contaminants are within the allowable limits set by the FDA, consistent with the ASEAN Directives,” it said.

“Health problems through chronic ingestion of high level of lead in lipsticks may manifest as neurologic, hematologic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and renal problems,” it further warned.

From 2013 to date, the FDA has issued public health advisories against over 50 non-compliant lipsticks, including 43 submitted by the EcoWaste Coalition for containing toxic metals or for lacking the necessary notifications.

The avoid exposure to lead and other contaminants in lipsticks, the group advised consumers to opt for those with valid cosmetic product notification and proper labeling information.

Cosmetics which are duly notified with the FDA will have the following labeling information written in English: a) product name, b) ingredients, c) net content, d) instruction on the use of the products, e) batch number, f) special precautions if any, and g) country of manufacture/importer.




06 February 2017

EcoWaste Coalition Drums Up Support for Mercury Treaty Ratification

The EcoWaste Coalition today reiterated its appeal for the immediate ratification of a global treaty that seeks to address worldwide emissions and releases of mercury that threaten the ecosystems and the health of millions.

Through letters sent today to various governmental officials,  the non-profit watch group for chemical safety and zero waste restated the need for concerned agencies to issue their Certificates of Concurrence supporting the ratification by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.   The said certificates are to be sent through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the lead agency for this matter, 

The treaty, which the Aquino administration signed in 2010, is named after the place where thousands of people were poisoned by mercury-tainted industrial wastewater in the mid-20th century in Japan, leading to crippling symptoms that became known as the Minamata disease.

Key highlights of the treaty include a ban on new mercury mines, the phase-out of existing ones, the phase out and phase down of mercury use in a number of products and processes, control measures on emissions to air and on releases to land and water, and the regulation of the informal sector of artisanal and small-scale gold mining.

“We owe it to the people of the Philippines and to the people of Minamata, the Japanese city after whom the treaty was named, to ensure that the Convention enters into force and is effectively implemented to prevent and reduce mercury pollution worldwide,” wrote Eileen B. Sison, President, EcoWaste Coalition.  

The letters were sent via e-mail to the Secretaries of the Departments of Energy, Science and Technology, and Trade and Industry, as well as to the Directors of the Fertilizer and Pesticide and Occupational Safety and Health Center.

The incumbent heads of the Department of Health and the Bureau of Customs had already issued their respective letters concurring with the ratification of the mercury treaty.

In pushing for the treaty ratification, the EcoWaste Coalition cited the Ratification Dossier prepared by the DENR with assistance from the Swiss Confederation and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, which states that: “the existing policies, programs and regulations have, to some degree, prepared the Philippines in terms of fulfilling the requirements of the Convention.”  

As pointed out in the Ratification Dossier, “despite the economic cost to comply with the provisions of the Convention, the long-term benefits of becoming a Party far outweigh the disadvantages.” 

It further emphasized that “the Convention is consistent with the country’s basic policy to protect and preserve the right to health of Filipinos, and the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology.”

The First Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury is planned to take place in the week of 25 September 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland subject to entry into force of the Convention prior to this date.

To date, 37 governments have ratified the Convention, which will enter into force on the ninetieth day after the date of deposit of the fiftieth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.

As per Executive Order 459, Series of 1997, the Department of Foreign Affairs, pursuant to the endorsement by the concerned agency, shall transmit the treaty to the President of the Philippines for his ratification.  The DFA shall then submit the treaty to the Senate of the Philippines for concurrence in the ratification by the President.