Toxics Watchdog Finds FDA-Banned Mercury-Loaded Skin Creams in Divisoria (Mercury up to 47,700 ppm detected in 10 products)

An environmental and health watchdog
tracking the illegal traffic of toxic consumer products in the market today
revealed the ruthless sale of banned skin whitening creams laden with mercury
in Divisoria, Manila.

The EcoWaste Coalition made the revelation as the 15th National Skin
Disease Detection and Prevention Week, spearheaded by the Department of Health
(DOH) and the Philippine Dermatological Society (PDS), is observed on November
9 to 15.

Also dubbed as the “Skinweek,” the annual campaign seeks to “uplift the health
status of Filipinos through patient education and early skin disease detection
and prevention by proper dermatologic care.”

“In observance of the Skinweek, we went to Divisoria to gather proof against
the unlawful sale of smuggled cosmetics laden with dangerous substances such as
mercury, a chemical poison that can seriously harm the brain, the kidneys and
the skin,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that “mercury in skin lightening
products may cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a
reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.”

In test buys conducted yesterday, November 9, the EcoWaste Coalition’s Toxic
Patrol faced no hurdle buying 10 brands of skin whitening products manufactured
and imported from mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and the USA.

The products, costing P60 to P200 each, were procured from Chinese drug stores
located at 11/88 Shopping Mall, 999 Shopping Mall, Lucky Chinatown Mall
and Tutuban Primeblock Mall.

These unregistered products belong to the over 100 mercury-laden skin creams
banned by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) from 2010 to 2014 for
violating the threshold limit of 1 part per million (ppm) for mercury under the
Asean Cosmetics Directive.

These products and their mercury content based on the screening conducted by
the EcoWaste Coalition using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device include:

1. BG Ginseng & Ganoderma Lucidum 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle
Whitening Sun Block Cream (banned in 2014) with 47,770 ppm of mercury

2. BG Sea Pearl & Papaya Natural Essence 6 Days Specific Eliminating
Freckle Whitening Sun Block  Cream (banned in 2014) with 46,500 ppm of

3. Yu Dan Tang Gingseng and Green Cucumber 10 Days Whitening Speckles Removed
Essence (banned in 2013) with 45,600 ppm of mercury

4. Beauty Girl Egg White and Tomato 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle
Whitening Cream (banned in 2011) with 43,900 ppm of mercury

5. Feique Herbal Extract Chinese Formula Whitening Anti-Freckle Set (banned in
2014) with 28,700 ppm of mercury

6. S’zitang 7-Day Specific Whitening and AB Set (banned in 2010) with 2,401 ppm
of mercury

7. Jiaoli Miraculous Cream (banned in 2010) with 2,398 ppm of mercury

8. Gakadi Freckle Removing Cream (banned in 2013) with 2,335 of mercury

9. White Advance Hydroxytyrosol L_Glutathione Whitening and Anti-Aging (banned
in 2013) with 1,262 ppm of mercury

10. Sanli Eliminating Freckle Cream Plus Complex Vitamin C and E (banned in
2013) with 1,505 ppm of mercury

“As the Skinweek is observed, we join our health and skin experts in urging
cosmetics consumers to exercise their right not to be exposed to mercury-added
products. Please be extra cautious on what you buy to lighten your skin as you
may be buying a poison without knowing it.  Consumer vigilance against
such toxic goods is vital to preventing mercury poisoning of our
bodies and the environment,” Lucero said

Mercury-added products, as defined in the newly adopted Minamata Convention on
Mercury, refer to products or product components containing mercury or a mercury
compound that was intentionally added.

Lucero added that mercury in skin whitening creams is ultimately released into
the wastewater, contaminating the water system and the food chain, particularly
the fish supply.

According to the WHO, “pregnant women who consume fish containing methylmercury
transfer the mercury to their fetuses, which can later result in
neuro-developmental deficits in the children.”