Banned products still on sale (above), laden with mercury but not yet banned (below)
whitening products banned by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) for
containing excessive amounts of mercury that pose health risk to consumers and the environment, are still being
sold by defiant vendors in Manila, a toxics watchdog reported on the eve of
In test buys conducted on April 19 and 20, the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic
Patrol purchased a total of 21 skin whitening creams, including 14 banned products,
from 12 stores selling Chinese medicines and cosmetics in Divisoria, Sta. Cruz
Topping the list of products with sky-high level of mercury was a Beauty Girl Green Cucumber 6 Days Double Whitening Soft Essence Cream, with 50,600 parts per million (ppm) of mercury, way above the allowable limit of 1 ppm under the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive.
“Dangerous cosmetics loaded with mercury are sold with impunity despite
repeated health warnings by the authorities,” said Aileen Lucero, Acting
National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“This is very bad for our people’s health, and for the environment since
mercury in cosmetics is discharged into wastewater that ultimately goes into storm
drains, rivers and seas,” she added.
The 14 banned items still on sale for P15- P150 each were the Natural Orange Whitening and Anti-Aging Package
and Yoko Whitening Cream with SPF-15 banned
last March 14, 2013; Aichun Pawpaw Fade Out Cream, Bai Li Tou Hong Cream , Special
Cream (1 Jar) and Special Cream (2 Jar-Set) banned in 2012; Aichun
Beauty (with Green Tea Essence) Cream, Aichun Beauty Green Tea Whitening
Speckle Removing Series Cream, Miss
Beauty Excellent Therapy Whitening Cream (2 types), and Yoko Gentleman Cream banned in 2011; and Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, Jiaoli
7-Days Eliminating Freckle AB Set and S’Zitang banned since 2010.
The EcoWaste Coalition also obtained seven products, sold from P110-P320 each, that
tested positive for mercury in subsequent analysis. The seven products are not yet on the FDA’s
list of 77 banned skin whitening cosmetics.
These seven products were the Beauty Girl Green
Cucumber 6 Days Double Whitening Soft Essence Cream; Gakadi; Hengxueqian
Whitening Set; White Advance Hydroxytyrosol L-Glutathione Whitening and
Anti-Aging Cream; Yudantang Ginseng and Green Cucumber 10 Days Whitening Speckles
Removed Essence; Yudantang 10 Days Whitening Speckles Removed Essence (with pictures
of a cow and papaya); and one product labelled in Chinese characters (with red
flower and green leaves).
With X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, the EcoWaste Coalition analyzed the
products and found enormous quantities of mercury with the following as the “top
10” in terms of mercury content:
1. Beauty Girl Green Cucumber 6 Days
Double Whitening Soft Essence Cream, with 50,600 ppm;
2. Yudantang Ginseng and Green Cucumber
10 Days Whitening Speckles Removed Essence, with 44,800 ppm;
3. Hengxueqian Whitening Set,
with 19,100 ppm;
4. Natural Orange Whitening and Anti-Aging
Package, with 15,400 ppm
5. Yudantang 10 Days Whitening Speckles
Removed Essence (with pictures of a cow and papaya), with 11,000 ppm;
6. Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, with 5,513
7. White Advance Hydroxytyrosol
L-Glutathione Whitening and Anti-Aging Cream, with 4,977 ppm;
8. Bai Lo Tou Hong Cream, with 4,887 ppm;
9. Jiaoli 7-Days Eliminating Freckle AB
Se, with 3,933 ppm; and
10. S’Zitang, with 3,790 ppm.
“The electorate should ask candidates to take cognizance of the problem
and act to combat this illegal trade that is making Manila the ‘cosmetoxic’
capital of the country,” she emphasized.
“Cosmetoxic” is a term coined by the EcoWaste Coalition to draw
attention to the proliferation of cosmetics laced with harmful substances in
Politicians vying for Manila City Council seats, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed
out, should throw their support behind a proposed ordinance filed in 2012 that
could have contained, if not crushed, the illegal trade of “cosmetoxic” in the
city. The ordinance would have prohibited:
“a. The manufacture, importation, marketing and promotion, distribution and sale of cosmetics with mercury in excess of 1 ppm as set by the FDA.”
“b. The sale, wholesale or retail, of cosmetics that have not been authorized by the FDA as required by R.A. 9711.”
“c. The sale, wholesale or retail, of cosmetics that have not complied with the labeling requirements implemented by the FDA.”
“d. The open dumping, open burning and/or
disposal of banned, recalled and/or confiscated mercury-containing cosmetics in
regular municipal solid waste.”
As proposed, “any violation of the ordinance shall be a basis for the
suspension of the business license or permit for a period of not more than
fifteen (15) days for the first violation; thirty (30) days for the second
violation, and the revocation thereof for the third and subsequent violations,”
and the imposition of severe penalties under R.A. 9711, or the Food and Drugs
the World Health Organization, “the main adverse effect of the inorganic
mercury contained in skin lightening creams is kidney damage.”
“Mercury in skin lightening products may also cause skin rashes, skin
discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to
bacterial and fungal infections. Other
effects include anxiety, depression or psychosis and peripheral neuropathy,” it
To avoid exposure to mercury in cosmetics, the EcoWaste Coalition recommends the
1. Read the product label; reject products
that do not list their ingredients; say no to products with incomplete
information or with labels written in a language that you cannot understand.
2. If you are already using a skin
whitening product containing mercury, stop using it and consult a doctor at
3. Dispose of mercury-containing
products responsibly: do not mix it with other trash; do not burn as mercury
will vaporize and contaminate the air.
4. Contact the FDA through their
hotlines 8571900 and 165332 for information and advice.
Note: The draft “ ORDINANCE TO STOP
THE ILLEGAL SALE OF INJURIOUS MERCURY-CONTAINING COSMETICS AND ALL OTHER UNREGISTERED
AND UNLABELED OR MISLABELED COSMETICS IN THE CITY OF MANILA” was filed by
District II Councilor Numero Lim in March 2012.