Banned Mercury-Tainted Cosmetics Resurface in Pasay City

Dangerous skin whitening cosmetics banned by health authorities for containing highly toxic levels of mercury had resurfaced in Pasay City, the EcoWaste Coalition warned Sunday.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-governmental organization promoting zero waste and chemical safety, cautioned consumers after finding 12 mercury-laden skin whitening products in the market of which 8 were among those already proscribed by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).
“Retailers should stop selling cosmetics without FDA approval and take products laced with mercury and other toxic substances off the shelves,” appealed Aileen Lucero, Acting National Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Consumers need to be extra vigilant and should not pay for poison cosmetics that can surely endanger their health,” she added.   

“In fact, the best way for consumers to protect themselves from mercury harm is for them to be happy with their natural skin tone and stay away from spurious whitening products,” she emphasized.

The group’s AlerToxic Patrol bought the products on June 29 and 30 for P45 to P250 each from discount stores selling imported cosmetics at the Baclaran Super Mall, Baclaran Terminal Plaza Mall and Empire Centre EDSA Mall.

Subsequent chemical analysis by the group using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device found all the 12 products in violation of the FDA’s allowable limit of one part per million (ppm) for mercury in cosmetics:

1. Doctor Bai Intensive White Revitalizing and Speckle Removing Set, 23,700 ppm
2. Yudantang Sea Pearl and Papaya 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Cream, 12,700 ppm
3. Beauty Excellent Lamb Placenta Whitening and Anti-Aging Cream, 11,500 ppm
4. Yinni Green Tea Quick Acting Whitener and Speckle Remover Package, 7,711 ppm
5. Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, 5,330 ppm
6. Huayuenong 12 Days Whitening and Speckle Removing Wrecking Set, 4,905 ppm
7. The Flower Woman 7-Day Whitening and Spot and Night Set Cream, 4,675 ppm
8. S’Zitang 10 Days Eliminating Freckle Day and Night Set, 4,326 ppm
9. S’Zitang 7 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, 4,212 ppm
10. Sara Glutathione Sheep Placenta Whitening and Anti-Spot Cream, 3,407 ppm
11. Whitening cream (labeled in Chinese characters; two mini-jars), 2,939 ppm
12. Bihuayn Whitening Day Cream, 13.3 ppm

Yudantang, Huayuenong, Bihuayn and the set of two mini-jars of whitening cream labeled in Chinese characters are not yet included in the list of items banned by the FDA.
From January 8, 2010 to March 14, 2013, the FDA had altogether banned 77 mercury-loaded skin whitening creams, including 25 that were brought to the agency’s attention by the EcoWaste Coalition.

“We hope the FDA will release shortly an updated
list of banned mercury-containing cosmetics for the guidance of consumers and sellers alike,” Lucero said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified mercury as one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern,” warning that “exposure to mercury – even small amounts – may cause serious health problems.”

WHO had warned that mercury in skin lightening products such as creams and soaps can harm the kidneys, and also bring about skin discoloration, rashes and scarring as well as reduce dermal resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.

In view of its discovery of toxic cosmetics trade in Pasay City, the EcoWaste Coalition urges:

1.  The Pasay City Government through re-elected Mayor Tony Calixto and Vice-Mayor Marlon Pesebre to push for an ordinance that will ban and punish trade in mercury-containing products in the city.

2.  Th Anti-Fraud adn Commercial Crime Division (AFCCD) of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to confiscate the contraband toxic cosmetics and duly charge violators.  
“With the help of all sectors, particularly our local government and police officials, this unlawful trade of dangerous cosmetics will soon be a thing of the past,” Lucero said.