EcoWaste warning: Keep off toxic underarm cream brands
MANILA, Philippines — Smoother, lighter but “toxic” armpits?
The toxics watchdog Ecowaste Coalition has warned consumers against using two Thailand-made underarm whitening cream brands after its tests showed that the products supposedly contained mercury beyond the allowed limit.
On Monday, Ecowaste’s chemical screening on Snow White Armpit Whitening Underarm Cream and 88 Total White Underarm Cream, both marked “made in Thailand,” contained mercury above the one part per million (ppm) trace amount threshold under the Asean Cosmetic Directive (ACD) and the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
Using an Olympus Vanta M Series X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer, the group detected 3,035 ppm and 3,042 ppm of mercury on 88 Total White and Snow White creams, respectively.
The group bought the products, with November 2022 manufacture dates, from an online shopping platform, prompting them to call on regulators to strengthen enforcement against mercury-added cosmetics sold online.
The country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has flagged both products. It issued advisories in 2020 against Snow White after Myanmar’s FDA found it to contain mercury, and in 2021 on 88 Total White for not having a valid certificate of product notification and the warning “may pose health risks to consumers” on its label.
“Our investigation shows that toxic mercury is also present in some cosmetics that claim to reduce body odor and lighten dark underarms,” said Aileen Lucero, national coordinator of Ecowaste Coalition, which has detected mercury in facial creams since 2011. “This is worrisome as many Filipinos are obsessed with smooth and white armpits.”
“Mercury in creams could pose serious health effects not only to those who directly use them but also to their families, especially children who might inhale the mercury vapors from the contaminated products or get exposed by using towels and items tainted with mercury,” said Lucero.
She called on cosmetic manufacturers to abide by the ACD and the Minamata Convention and for cosmetic regulators to strengthen compliance and enforcement strategies.
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