EcoWaste Coalition Finds More Mercury-Laden Cosmetics in the Market

In observance of the World Consumer Rights
Day (March 15) and following the International Women’s Day (March 8), an
environmental and health  watchdog group called on women consumers to be
on guard against toxic cosmetics and to fight for consumer justice.

The EcoWaste Coalition aired the warning after detecting high levels of mercury
on 11 brands of imported skin whitening cream products that it collected from
its latest market surveillance in Manila, Parañaque and Pasay Cities yesterday,
March 15.

Costing P60 to P180 each, the unregistered products that supposedly came from
mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia were found to contain
mercury up to 15,900 parts per million (ppm) in gross violation of the
threshold limit of 1 ppm under the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive.

“The ruthless sale of these cosmetics loaded with mercury goes against the
basic right of consumers to be protected against hazards to health and
safety.  Pregnant women and young children are most at risk to the adverse
effects of mercury,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste

Citing information from the World Health
Organization, Lucero explained that mercury in skin lightening creams and soaps
can harm the kidneys, cause skin discoloration, irritation and scarring, and
weaken dermal resistance to bacterial and fungal diseases.

“The incomprehensible product labels in Chinese characters, the non-disclosure
of mercury content, the misleading beauty enhancement claims,  the lack of
legal redress and the eventual contamination of the environment further violate
the consumer bill of rights,” she added.

rights are protected under R.A. 7394, the Consumer Act of the Philippines and
other laws, and are covered by the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer
Protection, Lucero noted.

“To protect themselves and their loved ones against mercury poisoning, we urge
our women to insist on duly registered, properly labelled, non-toxic cosmetics
and to fight for consumer justice,” she said.

“To cut down on cosmetics expenses and avoid complications from chemical skin
bleaching or whitening, let us be happy with our ‘kayumangging kaligatan”
natural skin tone, a beautiful part of our national identity,” she suggested.

Ten of  the 11 mercury-laden skin lightening
products that the EcoWaste Coalition found on sale in beauty product shops and
Chinese drug stores were among those banned by the Food and Drugs Administration
during the last three years, while one (Mifton) is not yet on the banned list.

These 11 products and their mercury levels as screened by a portable X-Ray
Fluorescence (XRF) device are as follows:

1.  Yu Dan Tang Ginseng & Green Cucumber 10 Days Whitening Speckles
Removed Essence, 15,900 ppm
2.  Erna Whitening Cream, 10,400 ppm
3.  Mifton 7 Days Beauty  Freckle Whitening Repair Set, 4,587 ppm
4.  Jiaoli 7 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, 3,664 ppm
5.  The Flower Woman 7 Days Whitening & Spot Day & Night Set
Cream, 3,615 ppm
6.  S’zitang, 3,338 ppm
7.  Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, 3,119 ppm
8.  Sara Glutathione Sheep Placenta Whitening & Anti-Aging Cream,
3,117 ppm
9.  JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream, 1,981 ppm
10.  Jiaoli 10 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Cream, 1,490 ppm
11.  Sanli Eliminating Freckle Cream, 1,371 ppm

Meanwhile, the EcoWaste Coalition expressed support to the proposal of Senator
Miriam Defensor Santiago for a Senate inquiry into the continued sale of banned
skin whitening products laden with mercury.

In a resolution filed last March 4, Senator Santiago explained that “it is imperative for the State
to ensure that these whitening products are prevented from proliferating in the

“The legislature should study if higher penalties should be imposed or stricter
guidelines should be implemented to stop dangerous skin products from being
sold to the public,” the Senator said.