EcoWaste Coalition Finds Mercury-Laden Cosmetics On Sale in Guadalupe, Makati City

Some shops offering food supplements and herbal medications in Barangay Guadalupe Nuevo, Makati City are also selling contraband cosmetics containing high levels of mercury, an extremely toxic chemical.

The EcoWaste Coalition issued this statement after buying five brands of illegally imported skin whitening products on June 17 from three shops located at the Guadalupe Commercial Complex and the nearby Uni Mec Supermarket.

Subsequent analysis by the group on June 18 using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer detected mercury over 7,000 times higher than the allowable limit of one part per million (ppm).

Yudantang Green Olive & Papaya Natural Essence 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Sun Block Cream registered with the highest level of mercury at 7,618 ppm, followed by Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, 5,718 ppm, Szitang 10-Day Eliminating Freckle Day & Night Set, 4,683 ppm and JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream, 3,734 ppm, while
Long Dian Tu Glutathione & Pearl Natural Whitening Essence showed no detectable mercury.

Except for Yudantang, all the samples were among those banned by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) for containing excessive amounts of mercury. Jiaoli, for instance, was banned as early as 2010.

“It’s ironic that shops selling dietary supplements and herbal remedies for improved stamina and health are also selling mercury-laden cosmetics known for damaging the kidneys and causing a variety of dermal and neurological problems,” lamented Aileen Lucero, Acting National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Mercury is extremely hazardous to health and this explains why the FDA has so far banned 77 mercury-containing skin whitening products since 2010,” she stated.

“We request our local authorities to act in order to make the cosmetics market safe for their constituents,” she said.

Specifically, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to Makati City Government to hold non-compliant business establishments accountable, including cancelling their business permits and filing criminal charges against violators.

“We appeal to Mayor Junjun Binay to help stop the illegal trade of poison cosmetics in Guadalupe, which is close to the Makati City Hall,” Lucero said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that mercury in skin lightening products can damage the kidney and also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections. Other effects include anxiety, depression or psychosis and peripheral neuropathy.

According to WHO, mercury in soaps, creams and other cosmetic products is eventually discharged into wastewater. The mercury then enters the environment, where it becomes methylated and enters the food-chain as the highly toxic methylmercury in fish.

Pregnant women who consume fish containing methylmercury transfer the mercury to their fetuses, which can later result in neurodevelopmental deficits in the children, the WHO said.