Toxics Watchdog Urges Consumers to be Wary of False Advertising Claims, Slams Sale of “Dirty Dozen” Mercury-Laden Skin Whitening Cosmetics

Twelve different brands of imported skin whitening
creams found laden with toxic mercury, including nine already banned by the health authorities (above), and BG and Feique creams not yet banned by the government (below).
“The gentle formula keeps your skin soft like a child.”
The EcoWaste Coalition urged consumers to be on their
guard against bogus advertising claims – such as the one above – after its
latest test buys confirmed the continued sale of mercury-laden skin whitening
cosmetics in Manila and Quezon Cities in brazen violation of the law.
“Consumers should be cautious of deceptive claims as some
cosmetics that promise flawless and lighter skin tone contain undisclosed
amounts of toxic mercury, which can damage the kidneys and the skin itself,”
said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
As an example, the group cited two products within the
“BG” line of skin lightening cosmetics supposedly from New York, USA, which
contain “ten kinds of precious herbal medicines” and whose “gentle formula
keeps your skin soft like a child.”
Sold for P120 each at Pan Pacific Chinese Drug Store in
999 Shopping Mall, Manila, the two “BG” creams, 
which have no market authorization from the Food and Drugs
Administration (FDA), were found to contain up to 51,100 parts per million (ppm)
of mercury.
Under the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive, the permissible
limit for mercury in cosmetics is one ppm.
Inorganic mercury is added to such cosmetics to inhibit
the production of melanin (the pigment that gives the skin its color) and bring
about lighter skin complexion.
“Inorganic mercury, an unlisted ingredient, in these
products can enter the body through the skin. 
Repeated use will cause mercury levels in the body to soar as can be
seen in the increased mercury levels in the urine,” said Aileen Lucero,
Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Repeated application of mercury-laden skin creams could
damage the kidneys and renal function,” she emphasized.
Citing an advisory from the World Health Organization
(WHO), Lucero further warned that mercury in skin lightening products can also
cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in
the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.
“Instead of the coveted flawless and lighter skin, users
of such creams may end up having ravaged skin with uneven pigmentation,” Lucero
“Moreover, innocent children can ingest the toxic metal
by hugging or kissing adults who use these creams,” she further said.
In its latest toxic exposé, the EcoWaste Coalition
reported detecting excessive levels of mercury in 12 products that the group
purchased for P80 to P200 each, mostly from Chinese drug stores, last July 13
to 15, 2014.  The products were purportedly
made in China, Japan, Taiwan and USA. 
Mercury was detected through the use of a handheld X-Ray
Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, a device that can screen toxic metals in
consumer goods.
As per XRF screening, the following “dirty dozen” skin whitening products were found to
violate the 1 ppm limit for mercury in cosmetics:
1. BG Sea Pearl and Papaya Natural Essence 6 Days
Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Sun Block Cream with 51,000 ppm.
2.  BG Ginseng and
Ganoderma Lucidum 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Sun Block Cream
with 46,800 ppm.
3.  Yudantang
Ginseng and Green Cucumber 10 Days Whitening Speckles Removed Essence with
43,500 ppm.
4.  Feique Herbal
Extract Whitening Anti-Freckle Set with 28,800 ppm.
5.  Erna Whitening
Cream with 8,284 ppm.
6.  Yinni Green Tea
Quickacting Whitener and Speckle Remover Package with 6,554 ppm.
7.  Jiaoli
Miraculous Cream with 4,740 ppm.
8.  S’zitang
with  4,565 ppm.
9.  Bai Li Tou Hong
with 2,859 ppm.
10.  Jiaoli 7 Days
Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set with 2,184 ppm.
11.  Sanli
Eliminating Freckle Cream with 1,305 ppm.
12.  Gakadi with
123 ppm.
The FDA has already banned nine of the above mercury-laced skin
whitening creams except for BG and Feique creams.
According to WHO, mercury in soaps, creams and other
cosmetic products is eventually discharged into wastewater and then enters the
environment, where it becomes methylated and enters the food-chain as the
highly toxic methylmercury in fish.
Pregnant women who consume fish containing methylmercury
transfer the mercury to their fetuses, which can later result in
neurodevelopmental deficits in the children, the WHO warned.