The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental and
health watchdog, has made another toxic discovery: traditional eye
cosmetics from Pakistan banned in Canada, US and Europe due to their heavy
metal content are available locally.
After obtaining a Pakistan-made mercury-laced skin lightening cream banned in
the United Kingdom from a garments retailer in Baclaran, Pasay City last August
4, the group’s AlerToxic Patrol managed to
procure last week the banned eye cosmetics known as “kajal,” “kohl” or “surma”
from a South Asian specialty shop in Paco, Manila City.
“American, Canadian and European regulators have taken action against these
traditional lead-containing eye cosmetics that could present chemical risks and
cause health problems for consumers, particularly pregnant women and young
children,” stated Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Local consumers who use them should be duly alerted of the health hazards
posed by such cosmetics,” she emphasized.
“Hashmi Surma Special,” “Hashmi Kohl Aswad” and “Hashmi Kajal” from Pakistan,
which the group purchased for P150, P100 and P50, respectively, had no market
authorization from the Food and Drugs
Administration (FDA) of the Philippines.
X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) screening of “Hashmi Kohl Aswad” and “Hashmi Surma
Special” by the EcoWaste Coalition revealed lead content exceeding 10% for each
item – or over 100,000 parts per million (ppm), way above the 20 ppm allowable
limit under the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive.
“These eye cosmetics were subjected to various product recalls abroad and
should not be sold here,” Lucero said.
Canada way back in 2005 removed known lead-containing kohl from the market such
as “Hasmi Kohl Aswad,” while France banned “Hashmi Surma Special” in 2011
“because it contains 71% of lead… and 5,000 CFU/g of aerobic mesophilic
flora.” Also in 2011, Ireland banned “Hashmi Kajal” “because it contains
11,922 mg/kg of lead and 49 mg/kg of cadmium.”
More recently, the US FDA published Import Alert 53-15 in February 2014
entitled “Detention Without Physical Examination (DWPE) of Eye Area Cosmetics
Containing Kohl, Kajal, or Surma.”
“There are no color additive regulations allowing for the use of these substances
in cosmetics. Furthermore, the use of these colors may present a hazard to
health because of their heavy metal content (i.e., they may contain more than
acceptable trace levels of lead),” the Import Alert warned.
The Import Alert also included A Q & Company, manufacturer of “Hashmi Kajal”
and Mohd. Hashim Tajir Surma,” manufacturer of “Hashmi Surma Special” in the
“Red List,” or the list of firms and their products
subject to DWPE.
According to the US FDA, “the risks associated with exposure to lead are
especially serious for children, who are particularly susceptible to absorbing
lead from the environment.”
“Among the effects associated with high levels of exposure are anemia, kidney
problems, and neurological damage that may include seizures, coma and death.
Even at relatively low levels, chronic exposure to lead may lead to learning
and behavior problems,” the US FDA said.
“A number of studies have shown that children exposed to kohl have increased
levels of lead in their blood. This exposure puts them at increased risk for
the serious consequences of lead poisoning,” the
(type “Pakistan” for country of origin, search for “Hashmi,” choose 2009 and