EcoWaste Coalition Slams Chinese Drug Stores Selling Mercury-Laden Cosmetics (Group Finds Mercury up to 25,500 ppm in 14 Imported Skin Whitening Creams)

A watchdog
keeping an eye on consumer products containing harmful chemicals decried the
unabashed sale of mercury-laden cosmetics by 12 Chinese drug stores in Binondo
and Divisoria, Manila.

Using some of its strongest language to date, the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task
Force on Chemical Safety denounced the blatant trade of cosmetics loaded with
excessive quantities of mercury that pose real danger to human health and the

“We condemn this callous and criminal trade of skin care products loaded with
toxic mercury by some Chinese drug stores masquerading as agents of good health.  It’s high time for the government to use the
full force of the law to stop this assault against consumer health and welfare,”
Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

The harsh condemnation came in the wake of the group’s latest investigation
showing that mercury-added cosmetics, despite explicit prohibition by the Food
and Drug Administration (FDA), are still being sold by non-compliant stores.

In test buys conducted on February 2 and 3, 2013, the group’s AlerToxic Patrol
found 12 Chinese drug stores selling 15 brands of imported skin whitening
products from P50 to P300 each, including five products (Bai Li Tou Hong, Gemli Gluthathione Grapeseed Extract
Whitening and Anti-Aging,  Miss Beauty
Magic Cream,  and two “special cream”
products labeled in Chinese characters) that were among the 71 products banned
by the FDA for containing mercury above the allowable limit of 1 part per
million (ppm).

Subsequent testing showed elevated levels of mercury up to 25,500 ppm in 14 of
the 15 products.
Using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer, the EcoWaste Coalition detected
mercury in the following items:

1. Natural Orange Whitening and
Anti-Aging Package, P80, with 25,500 ppm of mercury (Pan-Pacific Drug Store)
2. Feique  Herbal Extract Whitening
Anti-Freckle Set, P200, with 20,300 ppm of mercury (To Ren Tang Chinese
3.  Hengxueqian Whitening Set, P300, with
18,100 ppm of mercury (To Ren Tang Chinese Medication)
4.  Miss Beauty Magic Cream, P70, with 11,400
ppm of mercury (East West Drug Store)
5.  Gemli Gluthathione Grapeseed Extract
Whitening and Anti-Aging, P200, with 3,791 ppm of mercury (LVD Chinese Drug
6.  Baiyansu Three-in-One Whitening Set,
P150, with 5,940 ppm of mercury (Sim Sim Chinese Drug Store)
7. Bai Li Tou Hong, P70, with 4,754 ppm of mercury (Green Health Drug Store)
8. White Advance Hydroxytyrosol L-Glutathione Whitening and Anti-Aging Cream,
P180, with  4,317 ppm of mercury (Good
Health Chinese Drug Store)
9. Gakadi, P160, with 3,430 ppm of mercury (To Ren Tang Chinese Medication)
10. One product labeled in Chinese characters, P70, with 2,230 ppm of mercury
(Ya Ren Chinese Drug Store)
11. One product labeled in Chinese characters, P80, with 1,733 ppm of mercury
(Cheng En Chinese Drug Store)
12. Care Skin Strong Whitening and Spot Removing Package, P150, with 1,700 ppm
of mercury (Lexington Drug Store)
13. One product labeled in Chinese characters with image of red flower and
green leaves, P150, with 1,688 ppm of mercury (Kowloon Chinese Drug Store)
14. Fruit and Lovely Quickacting Whitener and Speckle Remover Package, P50,
with 472 ppm of mercury (South Ocean Chinese Drug Store)

One product labeled in Chinese characters sold for P240 at To Ren Tang Chinese
Medication had no detectable level of mercury, but interestingly had a note on
the packaging saying it is banned for children and pregnant women.

The group has already alerted the FDA about its findings through the Center for
Cosmetics Regulation and Research headed by Rhoda Laine Manoloto.

Citing information from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the
EcoWaste Coalition warned that “even small amounts of mercury and its compounds
can impact human health and the environment.”

According to UNEP, “mercury use in cosmetic products can have adverse effects
including skin rashes (contact dermatitis and acne venenata), discolouring and
scarring (post inflammatory dyschromia), and can reduce skin’s resistance to
bacterial and mycotic skin disorders.”

“Direct and prolonged exposure through the skin during repeated applications
can cause damage to the brain, nervous system and kidneys,” UNEP warned.

“Skin care products known to contain mercury should be banned from
manufacturing or import and removed from the market when found,” UNEP said.

The EcoWaste Coalition is a national network of more than 150 public interest
groups pursuing sustainable and just solutions to waste, climate change and
chemical issues towards the envisioned Zero Waste 2020 goal.