THE EcoWaste Coalition, an environment and public health watchdog, warned the public about the toxic lipsticks being sold in Metro Manila.
The Coalition issued the warning in a recent press conference where it detailed its discovery of the continuing unlawful sale in Manila of Qianxiu and counterfeited MAC lipsticks with high concentrations of poisonous heavy metals. The discovery was made following test buys conducted by the Coalition on August 1 at the 168 Shopping Mall and Divisoria Mall.
“Arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury and other toxic metals must not form part of the composition of lipsticks and other cosmetics to prevent human exposure to these highly hazardous chemicals, which could be due to the use of low-quality raw materials and non-adherence to good manufacturing practices” said EcoWaste Coalition Chemical Safety Campaigner Thony Dizon.
“Consumers, especially women and girls, are putting themselves at risk by embellishing their lips with cosmetics containing heavy metal impurities. It’s fine to wear lipstick and feel beautiful as long as your health will not be impaired,” Aileen Lucero, EcoWaste Coalition national coordinator, chimed in.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury among the “10 chemicals of major public health concern” requiring action by governments to protect the health of children, women of reproductive age, and workers.
Meanwhile, a medical expert said our body has no need for heavy metals.
“Our body has no use for these heavy metals, which are toxic even at low levels and are linked to neurodevelopmental deficits, hormonal disruption, reproductive disorders, and various diseases, including cancer,” said toxicologist Dr. Erle Castillo of the Medical Center Manila and the Philippine Society of Clinical and Occupational Toxicology (PSCOT).
Of the 57 samples of lipsticks bought for PhP14.50 to PhP35 each and subjected to chemicals screening with an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, 55 were found to contain one or more toxic metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury above the maximum allowable limits set by the “ASEAN Guidelines on Limits of Contaminants for Cosmetics.”
According to the Guidelines, “heavy metal contaminants could be derived from the quality and purity of raw materials, and the manufacturing process.”
Lead, which is linked to neurological and intellectual deficiencies, in excess of the allowable limit of 20 ppm, was detected in 48 samples. Among the top 22 items with the highest levels of lead were:
1. Qianxiu Matte Lipnicure #06, 42,900 ppm
2. MAC Matte Lipstick Mariah Carey #02, 38,100 ppm
3. Qianxiu It’s Moisturizing Matte Lipstick #06, 34,500 ppm
4. Qianxiu Lipstick #06, 25,000 ppm
5. Qianxiu Lipstick #01, 22,500 ppm
6. Qianxiu Lipstick #10, 21,400 ppm
7. Qianxiu Matte Lipnicure #04, 15,700 ppm
8. Qianxiu It’s Moisturizing Matte Lipstick #04, 13,200 ppm
9. Qianxiu Lipstick #02, 12,900 ppm
10. Qianxiu Matte Lipnicure #02, 12,500 ppm
11. Qianxiu It’s Moisturizing Matte Lipstick #02, 11,900 ppm
12. Qianxiu Lipstick #07, 11,200 ppm
13. MAC Matte Lipstick Mariah Carey #06, 9,401 ppm
14. MAC Zac Posen Rudy Woo #12, 8,713 ppm
15. MAC Matte Lipstick Mariah Carey #01, 7,327 ppm
16. Qianxiu Lipstick #11, 7,258 ppm
17. MAC Zac Posen So Chaud #04, 6,400 ppm
18. Qianxiu Matte Lipnicure #01, 5,251 ppm
19, Qianxiu Matte Lipnicure #10, 5,095 ppm
20. Qianxiu It’s Moisturizing Matte Lipstick #01, 4,764 ppm
21. MAC Matte Lipstick Mariah Carey #05, 4,539 ppm
22. MAC Zac Posen Girl About Town #08, 4,285 ppm
Also, arsenic up to 1,876 ppm was found in 43 samples. Cadmium up to 332 ppm was detected in two samples, Mercury up to 130 ppm was uncovered in three samples.
The EcoWaste Coalition is deeply concerned with the outrageous levels of lead found in these unregistered and counterfeit lipsticks as human exposure to lead is extremely dangerous even to babies in the womb.
According to the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “lead can cross the placental barrier, which means pregnant women who are exposed to lead also expose their unborn child.”
“Lead can damage a developing baby’s nervous system. Even low-level lead exposures in developing babies have been found to affect behavior and intelligence,” NIOSH said.
The exposure of pregnant women to high levels of lead can also result in miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight, as well as birth defects.
Both arsenic and cadmium are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a known human carcinogen. Cadmium. in particular, has been linked to breast cancer. Mercury, according to WHO, is “toxic to human health, posing a particular threat to the development of the child in utero and early in life.”
To rid the market of poison lipsticks with heavy metal impurities, the EcoWaste Coalition has put forward these recommendations:
1. For consumers to refrain from buying unregistered and counterfeit lipsticks and to exercise their right to product information and safety.
2. For the health, customs, local government and police authorities to intensify law enforcement action against manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers of adulterated and fake lipsticks, including seizing non-compliant products and bringing culprits to courts.
3. For legitimate cosmetic manufacturers to produce quality but affordable lipsticks that will discourage consumers from patronizing cheap but perilous lipsticks.