09 April 2018

Mercury-Tainted Cosmetic Sold in New York Also Sold in Pasay (Group Renews Call for Clampdown on Mercury-Laced Pakistani Whitening Products)

Skin creams and soaps, including Golden Pearl Beauty Cream (third from right, top) found contaminated with mercury by New York health authorities.
Golden Pearl Beauty Cream purchased on April 8, 2018 by the EcoWaste Coalition from a cosmetic retailer in Pasay City.
XRF screening of Golden Pearl Beauty Cream detected 8,640 ppm of mercury, way above the 1 ppm limit.
A cosmetic retailer at Baclaran Bagong Milenyo Plaza sells banned Golden Pearl Beauty Cream and Goree Beauty Cream both imported from Pakistan. 

A facial cream pinpointed by New York City health authorities as one of the 10 of skin whitening products from Pakistan that consumers should not use due to their elevated mercury content can be obtained from cosmetic retailers in Pasay City.

The EcoWaste Coalition revealed that Golden Pearl Beauty Cream that the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) tested and found to exceed the mercury limit set by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is sold for P250 per unit at Baclaran Bagong Milenyo Plaza and Baclaran LRT Shopping Mall.

The DOHMH last March 27 issued Health Advisory No. 6 warning New Yorkers against the use of 10 skin lightening creams from Pakistan and two medicated soaps from Spain that contain high concentrations of mercury above the allowable limit of one part per million (ppm).

According to the DOHMH, “e
xposure to mercury can cause serious and life-threatening damage to the central and peripheral nervous system and kidneys.”

“Chronic exposure may lead to skin rash, paresthesia, tremors, irritability, memory loss and depression,” the DOHMH said, adding that “renal effects include proteinuria, acute tubular necrosis and nephrotic syndrome.”

“Golden Pearl Beauty Cream is one of the mercury-laced skin whitening cosmetics from Pakistan that has found its way into the domestic market. Despite being banned by the Philippine FDA in 2014 due to its mercury content, the unlawful sale of this dangerous cosmetic has not stopped,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

The use of cosmetics containing mercury as a skin lightening substance, especially by pregnant women and nursing mothers, can harm the developing brain and nervous system of a baby.  Pregnant women can pass mercury to their newborns, which may manifest as neurodevelopmental disorders later in life,” he said.

To get a sense of how much mercury it contains, the group on Sunday bought a pack of Golden Pearl Beauty Cream from Pasay City and had it analyzed for mercury using an X-Ray Fluorescence spectrometer, which detected mercury as much as 8,640 times the permissible limit.

Aside from Golden Pearl Beauty Cream, the EcoWaste Coalition has monitored the sale of other mercury-laced cosmetics from Pakistan in the area, including Aneeza Gold Beauty Cream, Aneeza Saffron Whitening Cream, Face Lift Whitening Beauty Cream, Goree Beauty Cream, Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream , Parley Beauty Cream, and Parley Whitening Cream.  The FDA has already banned the two Goree products in 2017.

“We are deeply worried by this seeming invasion of mercury-laden skin lightening products from Pakistan that are now competing with similar contraband cosmetics from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.  Law enforcement action is needed to turn the tide,” Dizon said.

The EcoWaste Coalition has already notified the FDA about this disturbing market trend through a report sent last March 26. According to the FDA, the group’s 
complaint has been referred to the Regulatory Enforcement Unit for surveillance and collection of samples for further verification and laboratory testing.

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