EcoWaste Coalition Calls Out Pasay's “Pasaway” Stores for Selling Mercury-Laced Cosmetics

The watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition has called out some cosmetic stores in Pasay City for selling facial creams that have long been banned for containing mercury, a highly toxic chemical that is not allowed in cosmetic product formulations.

“The continued sale of forbidden mercury-laced Goree beauty creams makes a mockery of the local government’s ‘sa Pasay, bawal ang pasaway’ tagline,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We appeal to the local government, health and police authorities to crack the whip, confiscate these dangerous cosmetics and destroy them in an environmentally-sound manner,” she added.

Pasay store selling Goree, Welcome Plaza. ECOWASTE COALITION
Pasay store selling Goree, Victory Pasay Mall. ECOWASTE COALITION
Pasay store selling Goree, Baclaran LRT Terminal Plaza. ECOWASTE COALITION

As observed by the group during its ocular monitoring on September 18, 2022, banned Goree products are openly displayed and sold with impunity for as low as P180/unit at cosmetic stores within the premises of Baclaran LRT Terminal Plaza Mall, Two Shopping Center, Victory Pasay Mall and Wellcome Plaza.

Through a public health warning issued in 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised consumers not to purchase and use the said Goree products for containing mercury above the regulatory limit of one part per million (ppm), the maximum limit for mercury as contaminant under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.

Concerned establishments were also reminded not to distribute the non-compliant products.  “Otherwise, regulatory actions and sanctions shall be strictly pursued,” the FDA warned.

Aside from the Philippines, the governments of the United Kingdom in 2013, Brunei in 2018, Singapore in 2018, Bangladesh in 2020, and New Zealand in 2021 have taken action against mercury-laden Goree products.

In July of this year, the Bangladesh Standards and Testing InstItution (BSTI), a government agency, banned Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene and 16 other products for containing excessive levels of mercury.

Skin rashes, discoloration and scarring and decreased skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections are among the health effects of using skin lightening products with mercury. 

Repeated applications of such products can cause damage to the brain, nervous system and the kidneys. 

The EcoWaste Coalition on Monday notified the office of Mayor Imelda Calixto-Rubiano about this threat to public health.

“As these products pose serious health risks to consumers, we request your kind administration to conduct immediate law operations and seize the violative products like what the local authorities of Baguio City and Quezon City have done,” the group told the mayor.

In July and August this year, designated personnel of Baguio and Quezon Cities inspected several stores selling unauthorized cosmetics and other FDA-regulated health products following reports sent by the EcoWaste Coalition to Mayors Benjamin Magalong and Joy Belmonte.