Alarm raised over mercury-laden beauty products
An environmental group on Sunday warned consumers against buying and using smuggled beauty products that contain high levels of mercury.
EcoWaste Coalition coordinator Thony Dizon said 10 imported facial whitening and freckle removing creams from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Taiwan contain mercury way above the regulatory limit of one part per million (ppm).
In its periodic market surveillance and product analysis, EcoWaste Coalition tested 13 products from Divisoria and Quiapo in Manila on July 22 and 23 amounting between P30 to P300 each and screened them for mercury using an x-ray fluorescent (XRF) device.
One of the products, Yu Dan Tang Ginseng & Green Cucumber 10-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle Spot & Double Whitening Sun Block Cream from Taiwan, was found to contain mercury 38,900 times beyond the allowable limit.
Other products found to have toxic levels of mercury were: Parley Herbal Beauty Cream (20,500 ppm); Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream (11,700 ppm); Golden Pearl Beauty Cream (9,434 ppm); Erna Whitening Cream (4,531 ppm); Jiaoli Miraculous Cream (2,766 ppm); S’Zitang 10-Day Whitening & Spot Day Night Set (2,710 ppm); S’Zitang 7-Day Specific Whitening & Spot AB Set (2,640 ppm); Jiaoli 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set (2,184 ppm); and Temulawak Day & Night Beauty Whitening Cream (1,128 ppm).
Three other products, Aichun Beauty Carrot Natural Whitening Anti-Spot Cream, Aichun Beauty Honey Natural Whitening Anti-Spot Cream, and White Glow Whitening Day & Night Cream, tested negative for mercury. However, the group said, these are still illegal because it lacks the required Cosmetic Product Notifications from the Food and Drug Administration just like the other 10 products.
Dizon said that the smuggling of beauty products that contain toxic levels of mercury persists “despite the combined efforts by the government and the civil society to expose and stop such illegal trade.”
And to combat this, Dizon urged the Duterte administration to ratify the Minamata Convention on Mercury signed by the Philippines in 2013.
The treaty bans the production, export, and import of skin lightening cosmetics with mercury above 1 ppm.
This could “pave the way for strengthened policies, expanded programs and increased collaborations to protect the people’s health and the environment from mercury emissions and releases,” Dizon said.
“Reducing, if not removing, mercury in products such as cosmetics, batteries, fluorescent lamps, medical devices, antiseptics and others, will help in lessening mercury in waste,” he added.
Exposure to mercury can have serious health consequences, including kidney damage, skin rashes, discoloration and scarring, reduced skin resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, anxiety, depression or psychosis and peripheral neuropathy, according to the World Health Organization. CBB/rga
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