EcoWaste Coalition Discovers Another Beauty Cream Contaminated with Mercury
Beware: The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition has detected mercury in another beauty cream that promises “to turn your skin white and fair.”
Purchased from a local online vendor for P299, plus P38 shipment fee, Armena Gold Beauty Cream was found to contain 10,750 parts per million (ppm) of mercury as per X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) screening conducted by the group. This exceeds the one ppm maximum limit for mercury in cosmetics under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive and the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
“Our discovery of this unauthorized cosmetic adulterated with toxic mercury points to the need to intensify market monitoring and law enforcement to cleanse the market, including online shopping platforms, of such health-damaging skincare products,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
To avoid exposure to mercury via cosmetic products, the EcoWaste Coalition is urging consumers to be aware of unauthorized and adulterated cosmetics in the market, stay away from chemical whiteners, spurn colorism, and take satisfaction in our natural skin tone.
From 2011 to date, the group has discovered close to 100 skin whitening products with mercury content, including 11 new products purchased online in 2022 and confirmed to contain mercury in tests conducted in South Korea courtesy of the Soon Chun Hyang University and the Wonjin Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health.
As written on the label, the product in question was manufactured by Armena Gold Cosmetics in June 2022 in clear contravention of the Minamata Convention, which decided a global ban by 2020 on the manufacture, import or export of cosmetics with mercury content above one ppm, including skin lightening creams and soaps. While the country of manufacture is not indicated on the label, the product is allegedly “made in Pakistan” as mentioned in the online product listing.
Other important labeling information not provided in the label are the name and address of the product importer or distributor, the product’s ingredients, net weight, directions for safe use, and precautionary statements.
“The lack of market authorization, the inadequate labeling information, and the exaggerated product claims are cosmetic red flags to watch out for,” said Lucero, citing the Armena Gold's puffed up marketing gimmick that it offers one solution to 10 problems, including “stain and spots, dark neck, dark fingers, black heads, dark elbow, wrinkles and freckles, side effect of makeup, dark feet, pimples, dark circles.”
A potent neurotoxin, mercury can harm multiple organs of the body, particularly the developing brain of the fetus even at extremely low concentrations. Adverse effects of mercury use in cosmetics include skin rashes, discoloration and scarring and reduced dermal resistance to bacterial and fungal infections. Repeated applications of such products onto the skin can cause damage to the kidneys, the brain and the central nervous system.
Mercury is among the “10 chemicals of public health concern” as identified by the World Health Organization (WHO). Because of its adverse health effects, mercury and its compounds are included in the “list of substances which must not form part of the composition of cosmetic products” under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.
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