Watchdog Bares 5 More Skin Whitening Cosmetics with Toxic Mercury

The list of banned mercury-laden skin whitening cosmetics keeps getting longer.

From 50 such items in August 2011 to 71 in November 2012, the EcoWaste Coalition, a toxics watchdog, has now asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to add five more products on the list after detecting high concentrations of mercury in them.

An analysis by the group of the five skin whitening products using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer showed outrageous amounts of mercury way above the government’s “allowable limit” of 1 part per million (ppm), with one sample having a whopping 26,700 ppm of mercury.

The group bought the samples on December 8, 2012 for P70 to P250 each from Chinese medicine stores, as well as health and beauty shops, located in Baclaran, Cubao and Guadalupe.

“We sadly came across these dangerous cosmetics during our routine market check,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“We have promptly alerted the FDA about our findings urging the agency to take immediate action to warn consumers and decisively halt the illegal sale of these cosmetics to protect the public health and the environment,” she added.

1. A “Natural Orange Whitening and Anti-Aging Package” claiming “all-natural botanical formula” tested with the highest level of mercury at 22,300 ppm for the day cream, and 26,700 ppm for the night cream. The label purportedly shows GLDJB (Harbin) Cosmetics Co., Ltd. as the manufacturer, but failed to mention the country of manufacture.

2. A “Spring Return Ginseng and Pearl Natural Pure Plants Whitening Cream,” allegedly from New York, USA, had 10,900 ppm of mercury in its night cream. The packaging provided no details about the manufacturer.

3. A “TVC Spot Remover,” reportedly from Mexico but “made in PRC” had 10,100 ppm of mercury. No information about the manufacturer is given on the label.

4. A “Yudantang Green Olive and Papaya Natural Essence 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Sun Block Cream,” supposedly from Taiwan, had 8,391 ppm of mercury in the night cream.

5. A “Fruit & Lovely Quickacting Whitener & Speckle Remover Package,” which has zero information about its manufacturer, had 192 ppm for the day cream and 628 ppm for the night cream.  

Quoting from the DOH-FDA Advisory 2012-018, the EcoWaste Coalition warned that “consumers who are directly exposed to cosmetic products containing more than 1ppm of mercury run the risk of possible toxicity.”

According to the said health advisory, “there have been cases of adverse health effects brought about by highly toxic mercury in cosmetic products, such as kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring.”

The advisory signed by FDA director Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go further 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.”