Mercury laden whitening products still flood PH flea markets


Some of the mercury-laden skin creams ©

THE smuggling and illegal sale of toxic chemical laden skin whitening products continue unabated despite the health dangers in pose.

EcoWaste Coalition, an environment and public health watchdog, made the claim early this week after learning that these dangerous substances are still being sold in flea markets all over Metro Manila. The group said merchants selling these products are oblivious of the fact that these products threaten human health and the environment.

The coalition said it found ten imported facial whitening and freckle removing creams tainted with mercury, a life threatening chemical, that exceed the regulatory limit of one part per milion (ppm) – Yu Dan Tang Ginseng & Green Cucumber 10-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle Spot & Double Whitening Sun Block Cream (with 38,900 ppm), 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).

The smuggling of mercury-laden skin whitening cosmetics persists despite the combined efforts by the government and the civil society to expose and stop such illegal trade,” observed Thony Dizon, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect coordinator.

The persistence of the problem underscores an urgent need for the Duterte administration to ratify the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which, among other things, bans the production, export and import of skin lightening cosmetics with mercury above 1 ppm,” he emphasized.

Thony Dizon ©

Moreover, Dizon explained that “Ratifying the treaty that the Philippines signed in 2013 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.”

We are one with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in pushing for the treaty ratification,” he added.

At the same time, 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. It is important to ensure sound waste management, including safe storage and disposal, to avoid mercury-containing products from contaminating humans such as waste workers and the surroundings.”

From 2010 to date, the Philippine Food and Drug Administration has banned over 135 mercury-containing and unnotified skin whitening products, 80 of which were discovered by the EcoWaste Coalition through its periodic market surveillance and product analysis.

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.

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