At least 11 skin whitening creams made in China which are being sold here in Manila contain dangerous levels of mercury, according to toxic chemicals watchdog EcoWaste Coalition.
Based on tests conducted by visiting Chicago-based scientist Dr. Joe DiGangi, the whitening products were found to contain up to 28,600 parts per million (ppm) of mercury—way above the Philippine regulatory limit of one ppm.
“We are shocked to find outrageously high levels of mercury in the cosmetics we tested that ranged from 1,085 to 28,600 ppm, in brazen breach of the country’s regulatory limit,” said Aileen Lucero, the group’s Safe Cosmetics Campaigner.
According to her, EcoWaste Coalition bought 12 kinds of skin whitening creams from two Chinese drugstores, a cosmetic shop and several sidewalk vendors in Manila on July 23.
DiGangi later tested the products using an X-ray Fluorescence device, a chemical analyzer widely used by private companies and regulatory agencies in the United States.
Of the 12 brands, 11 tested positive for high levels of mercury.
“Mercury is a poison that should not be present in consumer products, especially those applied directly [on] the skin,” the group quoted DiGangi as saying.
Excessive exposure to mercury is harmful to the nervous system and kidneys, among other body organs, according to the scientist.
DiGangi is the science and policy advisor of the International POPs Elimination Network, a global coalition of about 700 nongovernment organizations including EcoWaste Coalition. The group works for the eradication of persistent organic pollutants.
EcoWaste identified the whitening brands that tested positive for mercury as Miss Beauty Magic Cream, which contains the highest level of mercury at 28,600 ppm; Jiaoli 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set Cream, 12,400 ppm; and JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream, 9,610 ppm.
The other products were Flower Woman 7-Day Whitening and Spot and Night Set Cream, 7,754 ppm; Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, 7,665 ppm; Sara Glutathione Sheep Placenta Whitening and Anti-Spot Cream, 6,210 ppm; Szitang 7-Day Specific Whitening and Spot AB Set Cream, 5,886 ppm; Beauty Girl Natural Olive and Sheep Essence 10-Day Double Whitening Cream, 3,638 ppm; Miss Beauty Excellent Therapy Whitening Cream, 2,304 ppm; Aichun Beauty Green Tea Whitening Speckle Removing Series Cream, 1,820 ppm; and Aichun Beauty Whitening Freckle Day and Night Cream, 1,574 ppm.
There was nothing on the labels of the products that showed that these contained mercury, “indicating the manufacturers’ failure to provide truthful information that can help consumers make sound choices,” noted Lucero.
Of the 11 products, five brands were recalled by the Food and Drug Administration last year for containing high levels of the toxic chemical.
“Their continued sale violates the Food and Drug Administration of 2009,” Lucero said.