Warning Out on Newly-Discovered Mercury-Contaminated Facial Cream from Thailand
The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition has discovered another facial cream imported from Thailand that is contaminated with mercury, a chemical banned in such cosmetics.
In its latest investigation, the group found 4K Plus 5X Whitening Cream loaded with 3,058 parts per million (ppm) of mercury in violation of the trace amount limit of one ppm for mercury in such cosmetics as per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.
"All useful ingredients in 4K Plus 5X can make a miracle like brighten and clear the skin within 1 week," the product label says, while keeping mum about its mercury content and its effects on health and the environment.
To date, the EcoWaste Coalition has detected 15 skin lightening products from Thailand, representing 10 brands, with violative levels of mercury most of which were purchased by the group from online shopping platforms.
“The unabated sale of imported skin whitening cosmetics with banned mercury ingredient in online and physical retail stores points to the need for intensified regulatory and consumer vigilance to protect women and other vulnerable groups from this preventable source of mercury exposure,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“An aggressive enforcement of the product safety laws and the imposition of fines and penalties on violators, coupled with sustained public information on the dangers of mercury and the consequences of continued use of contaminated cosmetics, will help turn the tide,” she said, adding “we also need to instill among our people to embrace our natural skin tone.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) had earlier stated that “to stop the manufacture, import and export of skin lightening products in line with the Minamata Convention on Mercury, regulatory actions by governments are needed – including training of customs agents – as well as major media and advocacy campaigns.”
The group purchased the 4K Plus 5X Whitening Night Cream from a Quezon City-based online seller for P417, and screened it for mercury using a handheld Olympus M Vanta Series X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) chemical analyzer.
According to the product verification portal of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 4K Plus 5 X Whitening Night Cream has no Certificate of Product Notification (CPN), which makes it illegal to import and sell. Republic Act 9711, or the FDA Act, prohibits the manufacture, importation, distribution and sale, among other things, of health products, including cosmetics, without the proper authorization from the agency.
The product was manufactured in 2023, or a few years after the global phase-out in 2020 on the manufacture, import or export of mercury-added cosmetics such as skin lightening products under the Minamata Convention on Mercury, the group also pointed out.
Mercury use in cosmetic products can have adverse effects on human health, including skin rashes (contact dermatitis and acne venenata), discoloration and scarring (post-inflammatory dyschromia), skin’s reduced resistance to bacterial and mycotic skin disorders, and damage to the brain, the nervous system and the kidneys with repeated applications of contaminated products.
According to WHO: “Mercury in soaps, creams and other cosmetic products is eventually discharged into waste water. The mercury then enters the environment, where it becomes methylated and can enter the food chain as highly toxic methylmercury in fish. Pregnant women who consume fish containing methylmercury can transfer the mercury to their fetuses, which can result in neurodevelopmental deficits in the children.”
In support of the National Action Plan for the Phase-Out of Mercury-Added Products and the Management of Associated Mercury-Containing Waste, the EcoWaste Coalition will continue to monitor the market, including digital commerce, for dangerous cosmetics containing mercury and other hazardous substances to inform and warn consumers, and encourage product regulators and law enforcers to act.
ph/cosmetic_product_ notificationlist.php (search for 4K Plus Whitening Night Cream)