The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit environmental and health group, has lambasted the sale of mercury-laced skin lightening cosmetics by third-party sellers in popular e-commerce sites.
“We find the unabated sale of dangerous skin whitening products in online shopping sites deeply disturbing and unacceptable,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“These popular e-commerce platforms should not allow their sites to be used for the unethical and unlawful trade of cosmetics that can expose their customers to mercury and put their health and the environment at risk,” he emphasized.
“Considering the susceptibility of online shoppers to fall victims to deceptive advertising and to adulterated and counterfeit goods, we ask e-commerce sites to police goods being sold by third-party merchants while our policy makers craft necessary regulatory controls,” he added.
“As top e-commerce websites in the country, we call upon Lazada, Shopee and eBay to show their support for the Minamata Convention on Mercury by promptly taking down third-party ads for mercury-laden cosmetics,” he said.
Third-party ads selling mercury-laden skin whitening facial creams at the Lazada, Shopee and eBay e-commerce sites.
The Minamata Convention, which the Philippine government has already signed but not yet ratified, has targeted a global phase-out of skin whitening cosmetics such as creams, lotions and soaps with mercury above one part per million (ppm) by 2020.
According to the monitoring conducted today by the EcoWaste Coalition, mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics, including those banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are being sold by online entrepreneurs. The group has uploaded samples of third-party product advertisements on the EcoWaste Coalition’s blog.
Lazada sells Ailke Boost Luster Superior Whitening, Ailke Perfection Salvation Rosy Whitening A + B Set, Angel Placenta Day & Night Cream, Aneeza Gold Beauty Cream, Goree Beauty Cream, and Meiyong (Seaweed) Super Whitening.
Shopee sells Aneeza Gold Beauty Cream, Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream, Erna Whitening Cream, Jiaoli 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, and Jiaoli Miraculous Cream.
eBay sells Aneeza Gold Beauty Cream, Goree Beauty Cream and Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream
Ailke Perfect Salvation, Angel Placenta, Collagen Plus Vit E, Erna, Goree and Jiaoli are among those already banned by the FDA for containing mercury above the trace amount limit of 1 ppm.
As per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive, mercury is not allowed as ingredient in cosmetic product formulations.
Chemical screening conducted by the EcoWase Coalition using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device detected high concentrations of mercury on the other products such as Ailke Boost Luster Superior Whitening (31,100 ppm), Aneeza Gold Beauty Cream(21,600 ppm) and Meiyong (Seaweed) Super Whitening (1,563 ppm), which the FDA has yet to ban.
Mercury in skin whitening products inhibits the production of melanin pigment leading to a “fairer” skin tone. However, mercury can cause damage to the nervous, immune and renal systems, and also cause skin discoloration, rashes, and scarring, as well as reduce dermal resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, the EcoWaste Coalition said.
Mercury can also affect the endocrine and reproductive systems. Studies have shown that increased mercury levels in the body have been linked with hormonal and menstrual disorders, infertility and miscarriage.
“Babies in the womb are not spared as mercury can cross the placenta during pregnancy and affect the developing brain and nervous system causing cognitive development problems. Fetuses, infants and young children are susceptible to mercury toxicity,” the group said.