EcoWaste Coalition Bares Illegal Sale of Banned Mercury-Laced Cosmetics in Angeles, Malolos, Olongapo and San Fernando Cities

An X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device is used to screen the items for toxic metals such as mercury.

Banned Jiaoli skin whitening cream on sale at a cosmetics store in Angeles City. 

 Banned Jiaoli and S’zitang cream on sale at a general merchandise store in San Fernando City.

 A Chinese drug store attendant in Angeles City prepares receipt for banned Jiaoli item.

A Chinese drug store keeper in Olongapo City checks the price list for the banned Beauty Girl and Yu Dan Tang skin whitening creams.
The illegal sale of mercury-containing skin
whitening cosmetics is rife not only in Binondo and Divisoria, but also in
major commercial hubs of Central Luzon. 

The EcoWaste Coalition, a watchdog group for toxic
chemicals, products and wastes, made this revelation after procuring banned
facial creams for lightening the skin complexion from retail outlets in
Angeles, Malolos, Olongapo and San Fernando Cities.
The group conducted test buys on March 7 and 8 as part of its continuing
campaign to rid the market of toxic beauty products and protect the public,
particularly women and girls, against mercury exposure in cosmetics.
According to the World Health Organization, “mercury-containing skin lightening
products are hazardous to health” and that “public awareness needs to be
raised regarding the types of products and the specific products that contain
mercury and the risks associated with mercury exposure.”
“Our investigation proves that banned mercury-laden skin whitening products
have crept into the retail market of Region III and could be putting the health
of gullible consumers at grave risk,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste
“These contraband goods can be found on display racks of some Chinese drug
stores, herbal and beauty product stalls and general merchandise shops and
openly sold without fear or guilt,” she noted.
“In most cases, shopkeepers even gave official receipts,” she added.   
Among the products bought were 12 variants of imported Beauty Girl, Jiaoli,
S’zitang and Yu Dan Tang skin whitening creams long banned by the Food and
Drugs Administration (FDA) for containing mercury in excess of the one part per
million (ppm) limit under the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive.
With the use of a handheld X-Ray-Fluorescence (XRF) chemicals analyzer, the
group detected outrageous levels of mercury from 217 to 47,200 ppm in the 12 items
brought in from China and Taiwan and sold for P65 to P185 each.
The mercury-contaminated items include Beauty Girl 10-Day Double Whitening
Speckles Removed Essence (Ginseng & Green Cucumber) ;  Jiaoli
Miraculous Cream;  Jiaoli 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set;  Jiaoli 10-Day Eliminating Freckle Day &
Night Set;   S’zitang 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set;  S’zitang 7-Day Specific Whitening & Spot
AB Set;  S’zitang 10-Day Whitening &
Spot Day Night Set;  Xinjiaoli 10-Day Whitening Speckles Removed Cream; and Yu Dan Tang 6-Day Specific Eliminating
Freckle Whitening  Cream (Green Cucumber & Ginseng).

These cosmetics can expose
users and non-users alike to toxic mercury, which can cause damage to the skin,
kidneys and the nervous systems and hinder healthy brain development of unborn
and very young children, the EcoWaste Coalition warned.
“Repeated use of such cosmetics could lead to chronic exposure to mercury that
can seriously damage the kidneys, nervous system and the skin itself as
manifested by dermal discoloration, rashes and scars,” Lucero said.
Symptoms of mercury poisoning may include change in the ability to taste,
difficulty to concentrate, excessive shyness, weakened hearing and vision,
insomnia, irritability, memory problems, numbness and tingling in hands, feet
or around mouth, and tremors.
The EcoWaste Coalition will forward the results of its test buys, along with
copies of the proof of purchase, to the FDA as well as to the concerned city
mayors and city health officers for appropriate regulatory action. 
“We urge the authorities to stop the illegal trade of these toxic contraband
cosmetics to protect the human health and the environment as envisioned by the
Minamata Convention on Mercury,” Lucero said.
The Philippines, represented by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary
Ramon J.P. Paje, signed the said mercury treaty in 2013 at a UN conference held
in Kumamoto, Japan, but has yet to ratify it.