EcoWaste Coalition Slams Sale of “Small but Terribly Dangerous” Skin Whitening Product Banned since November 2013

The EcoWaste Coalition deplored the rampant sale of a
“small but terribly dangerous” skin whitening product loaded with mercury, a
highly toxic chemical, in Chinese drug stores in Manila and on the Internet.

In test buys conducted last February 20, the toxics watchdog group was able to
purchase Erna Whitening Cream from 10 Chinese drug stores located in Divisoria,
Quiapo and Sta. Cruz, Manila.

Erna Whitening Cream was banned by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA)
three months ago on November 20 for containing mercury above the maximum
allowable limit of one part per million (ppm).

The product,
reportedly imported from Indonesia and Malaysia, sells for P60 to P80 each and
is packed in small white plastic jar with the words “Erna Whitening
Cream” printed in gold.  No other information is provided on the
product label. 

The free online classified ads
websites sulit.com.ph and ayosdito.ph
offer Erna Whitening Cream for as low as P10-18, depending on the quantity
“We abhor
the unlawful sale of this small but terribly dangerous cosmetic in Chinese drug
stores and over the Internet in blatant contempt of the government’s health
warning and product ban,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator,
EcoWaste Coalition.
“We ask
Chinese drug store owners and online dealers not to ignore the law, desist from
selling toxic cosmetics and instead help the authorities in bringing the
illegal trade to a close,” she further said.

“We likewise ask buy-and-sell websites to remove entries advertising the
prohibited product in line with their rules,” she added.

Mercury was detected in all 12 samples in the range of 2,948 ppm to whopping
11,400 ppm, or an average of 6,847 ppm, based on the chemical screening
performed by the group using an X-Ray Fluorescence device.  

The samples were
obtained from New World, Pan Pacific and Vita Green Chinese Drug Stores in
Divisoria;  East Asia, Golden Dragon, Hong San and JDA Chinese Drug Stores
in Quiapo; and Beauty Essential, Faith Hope and New Era Chinese Drug Stores in
Sta. Cruz.
The FDA through
Advisory 2013-053 banned “Erna Whitening Cream” and 14 other skin
lightening products for containing “violative levels” of mercury or
for failure to obtain prior market authorization from the agency.
According to the
advisory, “adverse health effects brought about by highly toxic mercury in
cosmetic products include kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and
use reduces the skin’s normal resistance against bacterial and fungal
infections,” it said.
effects include anxiety, depression or psychosis and peripheral
neuropathy,” it added.
The FDA has also
warned that “the transfer of mercury to fetuses of pregnant women may manifest
as neurodevelopment deficits later in life.”


Link to FDA Advisory 2013-053

Link to Erna Whitening Product advertisements at sulit.com.ph