Watchdog Group Urges CDO LGU to Clamp Down on Vendors of Banned Facial Creams with Mercury

The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition is urging the incoming government of newly-elected Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Rolando “Klarex” Uy to take a tough stance against the sale of mercury-laced cosmetics in the city.

The group’s call for tough action against dangerous skin whitening cosmetics laden with mercury came on the heels of its test buy operations last June 21-22, which netted nine forbidden products.

“We’ve been conducting test buy operations since 2011 to check on the availability of prohibited mercury-containing cosmetics in the market and to educate consumers about the risks posed by mercury in cosmetics, which is a  threat to human health and the environment, too,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition  

“Our latest investigation shows that facial creams with outrageous levels of mercury are openly sold in Cagayan de Oro City,” she said. “This is a clear violation of global and regional policies banning such health-damaging cosmetics.”

Both the Minamata Convention on Mercury and the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive prohibit cosmetics such as skin lightening products with mercury content above one part per million (ppm). 

“To safeguard the health of Cagayanons and other visitors from Northern Mindanao who come to the city to shop, we appeal to Mayor-elect Klarex Uy to get tough on vendors of banned cosmetics with mercury,” said Lucero.

Among the items bought by the group and screened for mercury were Jiaoli (3 variants),  Goree (2 variants),  S’Zitang (2 variants), Collagen Plus Vit E and Temulawak facial creams, which are supposed to lighten skin complexion and cure skin disorders like blotches and freckles.    

The levels of mercury detected in these products using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer range from 532  to over 25,000 ppm, with Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene topping the list with 28,200 ppm. 

“These dangerous cosmetics are sold for P85 to P250 each at beauty product stores located inside the Cogon Public Market, Angel Chavez Complex, 258 Lucky Shopping Plaza and possibly other business hubs. It would not be difficult for law enforcers to spot them on store shelves,” said Lucero.

Cagayan de Oro City’s health department should team up with the field office of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in Region 10 to confiscate the violative products for environmentally sound storage and disposal, and to duly charge the culprits, the EcoWaste Coalition suggested.

To put an end to the unlawful trade of mercury-laden skin whitening cosmetics, the group further urged the local government to pass an ordinance prohibiting and penalizing the manufacture, importation, distribution and sale of such products in line with the Minamata Convention and other existing laws and regulations.

Mercury in skin lightening cosmetics can result in negative health reactions, including skin discoloration, rashes and scarring and skin's diminished resistance to bacterial and mycotic skin disorders. Exposure to mercury in such cosmetics can also damage the kidneys, the brain and the central nervous system.  

"The safest way for Cagayanons and all Filipinos to avoid mercury exposure in cosmetics is to accept our natural skin color and avoid the use of chemical skin whiteners," the EcoWaste Coalition concluded. "Brown is beautiful!"

Additional Information:
  • Mercury Content of Facial Creams Sold in CDO:
    • Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene, 28,200 ppm
    • Goree Day & Night Beauty Cream, 26,720  ppm
    • Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream, 5,716 ppm
    • Temulawak Day & Night Cream, 1,751 ppm
    • Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, 863 ppm
    • S'Zitang 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, 747 ppm
    • Jiaoli 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, 701 ppm
    • S’Zitang 10-Day Eliminating Freckle Day & Night Set, 636 ppm  
    • Jiaoli 10-Day Eliminating Freckle Day & Night Set, 532 ppm