12 of the 14 skin whitening products bought by the EcoWaste Coalition (top photo) from Lazada and Shopee dealers (last photo) had high concentrations of mercury, including 6 products (middle photo) that were already banned by the FDA due to their mercury content and/or for lacking the required cosmetic product notifications.
A non-profit watch group is calling out e-commerce sites for failing to police cosmetics being offered by third-party dealers that can put consumers at risk to mercury exposure.
The EcoWaste Coalition lamented that online shopping platforms are being used to promote and sell cosmetics containing scheduled poisons such as mercury, which is forbidden in cosmetic formulations.
The group made the remarks after buying skin whitening facial creams for P35 to P500 each from Lazada and Shopee dealers, including items already proscribed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to their mercury content.
“Cosmetics laden with mercury are alarmingly being sold online as the results of our test buys would show. The wide circulation of these dangerous cosmetics through e-commerce is a menace to public health and the environment as the production, consumption, and disposal of such products can contribute to mercury pollution,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“There is an obvious need to keep the online marketplace safe from mercury and other poisons lurking in some consumer products such as skin lightening creams,” he emphasized.
“Considering the susceptibility of online shoppers to fall victims to deceptive advertising and to adulterated and counterfeit goods, we ask e-commerce sites to police goods being sold by third-party merchants while our policy makers craft necessary regulatory controls,” he added.
Atty. Vic Dimagiba, President of Laban Konsyumer, Inc. agreed, stressing that: “With the growing popularity of online shopping, there ought to be strict rules to safeguard and uphold the rights of consumers, including their right to adequate labeling and full disclosure of the product content, their right to be protected against hazardous goods such as mercury-laced cosmetics and their right to redress. There should be no exemption from liability by the seller and distributor, and that their registration from the regulator must be disclosed on the website.”
All of the 14 items ordered by the group from dealers based in Baguio City, Davao City, and the National Capital Region are not notified with the FDA and are not permitted to be distributed in the Philippines.
Of these 14 items, 12 were found to exceed the trace amount limit of one part per million (ppm) for mercury in cosmetics under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive. Using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer, the EcoWaste Coalition detected mercury up to 31,100 ppm on the 12 samples.
None of these 12 mercury-laden skin whitening cosmetics listed mercury as an ingredient nor provided any warning about their mercury content. Some of the items flaunted not to contain harmful chemicals and are safe to use even by pregnant women.
Ailkye Boost Luster Superior Whitening had 31,100 ppm of mercury; Ailkye Perfection Salvation Rosy Whitening A + B Set, 30,200 ppm; Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene with SPF 30 Avocado & Aloe Vera, 20,000 ppm; Aneeza Saffron Whitening Cream, 11,900 ppm; Angel Placenta Whitening Cream, 2,395 ppm; Jiaoli 10 Days Eliminating Freckle Day & Night Set, 2,326 ppm; Pretty Cowry Freckle Cream, 2,169 ppm; Meyyong (Seaweed) Super Whitening, 1,563 ppm; Jiaoli 7 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, 1,337 ppm; Erna Whitening Cream, 1,102 ppm; Chinese Herbal Remove Freckle Whitening Moisturizing Face Skin Care Cream, 205 ppm; and Cainiya Sheng Wu He Suan, 20 ppm.
Six of the above mercury-tainted products --- Ailkye Perfection Salvation Rosy Whitening A + B Set, Goree Beauty Cream, Angel Placenta Whitening Cream, Jiaoli 10 Days Eliminating Freckle Day & Night Set, Jiaoli 7 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, and Erna Whitening Cream --- are already banned by the FDA for containing mercury or for lacking the required cosmetic product notifications.
According to the latest public health advisory by the FDA, “adverse health effects brought about by highly toxic mercury in cosmetics products include kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring,” adding that “chronic use reduces the skin’s normal resistance against bacterial and fungal infections.”
“The transfer of mercury to fetuses of pregnant women may manifest as neurodevelopment deficits later in life,” the FDA warned.