Thus declared the EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, as it welcomed the
move by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to blacklist six more imported
skin whitening creams laced with excessive amounts of mercury, an extremely
Through DOH-FDA Advisory 2012-018-A issued on March 14, the regulatory agency
expanded the list of banned mercury-containing skin whitening products from 71
in November 2012 to the current 77. Added to the list were:
1. Fruit & Lovely Quickacting Whitener & Speckle Remover Package
2. Yudantang Green Olive and Papaya Natural Essence 6 Days Specific Eliminating
Freckle Whitening Sun Block Cream
3. Spring Return Ginseng and Pearl Natural Pure Plants Whitening Cream
4. Natural Orange Whitening and Anti-Aging Package
5. TVC Spot Remover
6. Yoko Whitening Cream with SPF-15
All the above products, except for Yoko, have not undergone the required FDA’s
“As we laud the FDA’s action to ban additional skin lightening products tainted
with mercury, we urge consumers to be on their guard and take highest
precautions against ‘cosmetoxics’ or cosmetics laced with hazardous
substances,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
“Our distinct kayumangging-kaligatan (light brown skin) complexion is beautiful
and a source of national pride. But if you still insist on lightening your skin
tone, please be very careful with cosmetics laden with mercury and other
equally harmful chemicals. It’s better to be brown than sorry,” Lucero said.
FDA Director Kenneth Hartigan-Go had earlier warned that “chronic use reduces
the skin’s normal resistance against bacterial and fungal infections,” and that
“the transfer of mercury to fetuses of pregnant women may manifest as
neurodevelopment deficits later in life.”
The EcoWaste Coalition in December 2012 alerted the FDA about the illegal sale
of five of the six products, which the group analyzed using an X-Ray
Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer and found positive for mercury up to 26,700
parts per million, way above the government’s allowable limit of 1 part per
In February 2013, the EcoWaste Coalition submitted to the FDA additional
mercury-containing skin whitening products that the group obtained from test buys
at Chinese drug stores in Binondo, Manila for confirmatory analysis.
Consumer products such as mercury-laced skin whitening cosmetics are among the
identified sources of mercury, and mercury in such products can also enter and
contaminate the waste stream.
“As we seek for safer cosmetics that will not harm users as well as pollute the
environment, we urge the national and local authorities to take tough legal
action against importers, distributors and sellers of these unlawful products,”
said environmental lawyer Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, a member of the EcoWaste
Coalition’s Steering Committee.
“By punishing these vendors of contraband cosmetics to the fullest extent of
the law, we send a clear message to the cosmetics industry and the public that
our country truly means business when it comes to protecting our people,
especially our women and children, and our planet, from further mercury
exposure,” she said.
violators shall be penalized with imprisonment from one to 10 years or a fine
from P50,000 to P500,000, or both. For violators who are manufacturers,
importers or distributors, the imprisonment of 5 to 10 years and the fine of
P500,000 to P5,000,000 shall apply.
Coalition also highlighted the need for the cosmetics industry to
institute chemical safety reforms such as:
1. Manufacturing only toxic-free goods sans heavy metals and other harmful
2. Replacing other chemicals of concern with non-hazardous substitutes.
3. Disclosing all chemical ingredients with corresponding net quantity of
contents, including additives and impurities, on the product labels and online.
4. Providing hazard labeling for products containing ingredients linked to
cancer and other major health issues.
5. Providing warning statements for a) latent complications with other
ailments, and b) potential drug complications when used simultaneously with
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.