26 March 2018

EcoWaste Coalition Warns vs Mercury-Contaminated Cosmetic Imports from Pakistan (Group Detects High Levels of Mercury in 5 Pakistani Skin Whitening Products)


Photos of mercury-containing Aneeza Gold Beauty Cream, Aneeza Saffron Whitening Cream, Face Lift Whitening Beauty Cream, Parley Beauty Cream, and Parley Whitening Cream – all “made in Pakistan.” The FDA has yet to ban these mercury-laden cosmetics.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit watch group on toxic chemicals and wastes, has deplored the sale of skin whitening products from Pakistan containing elevated concentrations of mercury, a highly poisonous substance.

In test buys conducted on March 24 as the National Women's Month draws to a close, the group obtained five unregistered “made in Pakistan” skin whitening creams  from beauty product stores at the Baclaran Bagong Milenyo Plaza and LRT Baclaran Shopping Mall in Pasay City. 

The five contraband cosmetics costing P230 to P250 each include:  Aneeza Gold Beauty Cream, Aneeza Saffron Whitening Cream, Face Lift Whitening Beauty Cream, Parley Beauty Cream, and Parley Whitening Cream.

“The products are sold illegally as their manufacturers, importers or distributors have not notified the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and secured the mandatory product notifications prior to placing or selling them in the local market,” noted Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Worst, the products are loaded with violative levels of mercury above the trace amount of one part per million (ppm) that could pose health hazards even in small amounts.  Consumers, especially women and girls, should at once stop using them,” he emphasized.

As revealed by the X-Ray Fluorescence screening conducted by the group, all the five products had mercury content ranging from 16,500 to 32,900 ppm, which are thousands of times higher than the 1 ppm limit  set by the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.  Parley Whitening Cream, which promises a "softer, more radiant and even-toned skin," had the highest mercury concentration among the samples.

“We have alerted the FDA about our findings and suggested stern action against violators to thwart the influx of smuggled Pakistani cosmetics.  It's time to nip the supply of these dangerous cosmetics in the bud before it worsens,” Dizon said.

To date, the FDA has banned three mercury-skin whitening cosmetics from Pakistan, namely Golden Pearl Beauty Cream, Goree Beauty Cream and Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream.  The FDA banned Golden Pearl in 2014 and the two Goree products in 2017.  


“Sadly, these banned products are brazenly sold by cosmetic retailers in Baclaran, Quiapo and Divisoria despite FDA’s threat of regulatory actions and sanctions against uncooperative establishments.  Banned Goree products are also offered for sale by online merchants at Lazada and OLX,” Dizon said.

According to the FDA, “adverse health effects brought about by highly toxic mercury in cosmetics products include kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring.”

“Chronic use reduces the skin’s normal resistance against bacterial and fungal infections. Other effects include anxiety, depression or psychosis and peripheral neuropathy. The transfer of mercury to fetuses of pregnant women may manifest as neurodevelopment deficits later in life,” the FDA warned.

To put an end to the unlawful trade of mercury-tainted skin whitening cosmetics, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to push for and support heightened law enforcement action against erring businesses by the country’s health, customs and police authorities.

The group also urged the government to ratify the Minamata Convention on Mercury, a global treaty that aims to protect human health and the environment against mercury emissions and releases from human activities.  It provides for, among other targets, the phase-out of skin lightening products with mercury above 1 ppm.  

-end-

Mercury Content of the 5 Samples of Skin Whitening Cosmetics from Pakistan as per XRF Screening:

Parley Whitening Cream, 32,900 ppm
Aneeza Gold Beauty Cream, 21,600 ppm  
Parley Beauty Cream, 18,300 ppm  
Face Lift Whitening Beauty Cream, 17,000 ppm
Aneeza Saffron Whitening Cream, 16,500 ppm

Reference:

https://ww2.fda.gov.ph/advisories-2/cosmetic-2/472052-fda-advisory-no-2017-289

https://ww2.fda.gov.ph/attachments/article/195942/FDA%20Advisory%20NO.%202013-053-A.pdf

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