A non-governmental watch group on toxic chemicals, products and wastes today revealed the illegal sale of mercury-tainted skin whitening cosmetics in stores selling beauty and herbal products in Cubao, Quezon City.
The EcoWaste Coalition made the revelation following its market investigation on May 1 to check if skin lightening cosmetics banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to their mercury content and lack of product notification are sold in QC.
The toxics watch group since 2011 has been raising awareness about skin whitening cosmetics containing mercury and the risks associated with mercury exposure.
“Our latest test buys indicate that mercury-laden skin whitening products are illegally sold in broad daylight not only in Baclaran and Divisoria, but also in Cubao,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“The banned products are sold for P100 to P300 each by dealers of cosmetics and herbal food supplements located in a big supermarket and a dry and wet market inside the Araneta Center,” he said.
To protect public health, especially the health of women consumers of skin whitening products, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the Quezon City Health Department to undertake urgent law enforcement action together with the Quezon City Police Department and the FDA.
“We also urge commercial establishments who rent out space for vendors of beauty and herbal products to warn their tenants against selling items banned by the FDA such as cosmetics laden with heavy metals like mercury and other prohibited or restricted substances,” Dizon said.
Mercury in the range of 521 to 21,100 parts per million (ppm) was detected in the following products using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) chemical analyzer:
1. Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene with SPF 30 Avocado & Aloe Vera, 21,100 ppm
2. Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream Oil Free, 20,900 ppm
3. S’Zitang 10-Day Eliminating Freckle Day & Night Set, 2,258 ppm
4. Erna Whitening Cream, 816 ppm
5. JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream, 521 ppm
FDA banned the two Goree products in 2017, S’Zitang in 2015, Erna in 2013, and JJJ in 2012 for containing mercury beyond the allowable limit of one part per million (ppm) as per as the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.
Citing information from the World Health Organization (WHO), the EcoWaste Coalition said that individuals who apply mercury-laced skin lightening products onto their face may experience skin discoloration, rashes and scarring and lower skin resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.
Repeated applications, according to WHO, can cause damage to the brain, the nervous system and the kidneys.
Symptoms of mercury poisoning may include change in the ability to taste, difficulty to concentrate, excessive shyness, weakened hearing and vision, insomnia, irritability, memory problems, numbness and tingling in hands, feet or around mouth, and tremors.