EcoWaste Coalition Sounds Warning Bell over Mercury-Laced Cosmetics from Pakistan, Asks FDA to Nip Illegal Trade in the Bud

Beware: dangerous mercury-laden skin creams
are not only coming from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, but also
from far away Pakistan.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, made this shocking discovery
during its market surveillance on August 4, 2014 in Pasay City.

“This is the first time that we came across a skin whitening product loaded
with toxic mercury from Pakistan, which is over 5,700 kilometers away from our
country,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

Last Monday, the group bought “Golden Pearl Beauty Cream” for P350 from Ammar
Collections, a shop selling “made in Pakistan” garments at the second floor of
Baclaran Bagong Milenyo Plaza, F.B. Harrison St., Pasay City.

Subsequent analysis using a portable X-Ray Fluoresence device detected 5,785
parts per million (ppm) of mercury in the product, way above the 1 ppm
allowable limit for mercury under the Asean Cosmetics Directive.

“The product was obviously smuggled into the country as it is not covered by
any market authorization from the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA),” Lucero

“If this illegal trade isn’t nipped in the bud, it will soon get out of hand, harm
susceptible consumers and pollute the environment.  We therefore ask the FDA, the Bureau of
Customs and other agencies to thwart this unlawful traffic of mercury laden
cosmetics from Pakistan,” she emphasized.

The group also revealed that the government of the United Kingdom in February
2013 ordered the withdrawal of Golden Pearl Beauty Cream from the market
because “the product poses a chemical risk because it contains a mercury
compound as a skin-lightening substance.”

According to the European Union’s RAPEX, the rapid alert system for dangerous
non-food products, UK from 2009 to 2013 has withdrawn a total of 17 skin
lightening products from Pakistan due to their mercury content.

“This should serve as a warning bell to consumers of skin lightening cosmetics
from abroad with undisclosed mercury content that can spell serious trouble for
human health,” Lucero stressed.

The World Health Organization has warned that inorganic mercury contained in
skin lightening creams causes kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration
and scarring, as well as reduces skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal

“Mercury and its compounds can enter the body by ingestion, inhalation or
dermal contact, causing damaging effects that are not immediately obvious, but
increasing and building up over time,” Lucero said.

As per the product insert, “Golden Pearl Beauty is the best skin whitening
formulation… the only cream that clears pimples, wrinkles, marks, hives even
shadows under the eyes and turns your skin white.”

The product promises to “make you much looking gorgeous that you won’t

“Don’t be swayed by these overstated claims.  Don’t spend your
hard-earned money to buy a perfect poison for your kidneys and skin.  It
is your right as consumer to have access to complete and truthful product
information, including its chemical materials,” Lucero advised the public.

While the label lists a number of ingredients, it failed to mention that the
product contains mercury, Lucero pointed out.