Warning to Women: Mercury-Tainted Cosmetics Can Endanger Your Health (Toxcis Watchdog Finds Mercury-Laden Skin Whitening Creams in the Market)

10 FDA-banned mercury containing skin whitening cosmetics that are still on sale in the market.

 Unregistered Jiachuntang Ban Gan Jing Qu Ban Shuang with high mercury content; not yet banned

Unregistered skin cosmetics on sale in the market

Manjion Chinese Drug Store located at Commonwealth Market, Quezon City sells a banned Yu Dan Tan skin whitening cream that contains 62,200 ppm of mercury

Overseas Chinese Drug Store situated at Benavidez St., Binondo, Manila sells prohibited Yangqian Fashion Care Skin Strong Whitening & Spot Removing Package that has 2,362 ppm of mercury.

A toxics watchdog group has advised Filipino women to shun
cosmetics laden with toxic mercury ahead of the observance of the International
Women’s Day on March 8 and the seventh session of the intergovernmental
negotiating committee on mercury (INC7) on March 10-15.
The EcoWaste Coalition rang the alarm bell after procuring
imported skin lightening creams with dangerous concentrations of mercury, a
poisonous substance, way above the 1 part per million (ppm) limit under the
ASEAN Cosmetics Directive.
“We advise women and girls to be cautious when using skin
lightening cosmetics, especially smuggled goods of dubious quality, that may
contain health-damaging ingredients such as mercury,” said Aileen Lucero,
Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
According to the World Health Organization, the inorganic
mercury contained in some skin whitening products can cause kidney damage, skin
rashes, discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in dermal resistance
to bacterial and fungal infections.
“Pregnant women are particularly sensitive to the injurious
effects of mercury and exposure to this poison during pregnancy may increase
the risk of brain damage and birth defects for the child in the womb,” Lucero
pointed out.
In test buys conducted on March 4 and 5 in Manila
and Quezon Cities, the group’s AlerToxic Patrol
bought 20 different brands of facial creams that are  supposed to brighten the skin, even out the
skin tone, and get rid of freckles,  acne
and other skin problems.
Costing P50 to P230 each, the items were obtained mostly
from Chinese drug stores.
Ten of these 20 samples were among those already banned by
the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) for containing violative levels of
mercury and should have been removed from the market.
Using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, the group
was able to detect and measure mercury in these 10 samples in the range of
1,054 to 62,200 ppm.
The samples with the highest mercury levels were Yu Dan Tang
10-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle Spot & Double Whitening Sun Block Cream
(Ginseng & Green Cucumber) with 62,200 ppm; Beauty Girl 6-Day Specific
Eliminating Freckle Whitening Cream (Egg White & Tomato), 35,500 ppm; Yu
Dan Tang 6-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Cream (Green Cucumber
& Ginseng), 30, 100 ppm;  Jiaoli
Miraculous Cream, 3,079 ppm; and S’zitang 10-Day Whitening & Spot Day Night
Set with 2,534 ppm.
Completing the list were Yangqian Fashion Care Skin Strong
Whitening & Spot Removing Package with 
2,362 ppm;  Gemli Glutathione
Grapeseed Extract Whitening & Anti-Aging, 
2,341 ppm; Jiaoli 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, 2,340 ppm;
Gakadi, 1,888 ppm; and Lan Mei Rou 12-Day Whitening and Speckle Removing Suit
with 1,054 ppm.
In addition, the group found inconclusive trace amounts of
mercury in the other samples, except for Jiachuntang Ban Gan Jing Qu Ban Shuang, which has
a high mercury content of 3,802 ppm. 
Jiachuntang is not yet banned by the FDA.
Aside from Jiachuntang, the EcoWaste Coalition will submit
the following unregistered products to the FDA for confirmatory analysis:  AS Skin Natural Beauty Lanolin Cream with
Vitamin E; De Monto Lanolin Cream with Vitamin E & Collagen; Flowerone
Elastic Whitening Tender Cream ; Nacos Lanolin Cream with Vitamin E &
Collagen; Pearl Whiten Beautiful ; Queen Pientzehuang Pearl Cream; RLY
Repairing Eke Water Cream ; Ronglaiya Professional Pure Golden; and
Xinfumanlingshuang Anti-Acne and Renewal Cream.
A bigger market investigation in 50 cities conducted by the
EcoWaste Coalition in 2015 found mercury up to 96,100 ppm in 316 of 355 samples
of unregistered skin whitening facial creams from overseas, mostly from China and Taiwan.
“As the dumping of mercury-tainted skin lightening products
goes on unabated, we urge our health regulators, customs inspectors and local
government authorities to tighten noose on cosmetics smugglers,” Lucero
“Concerned citizens who have any information on the
importation, distribution and sale of contraband cosmetics should come forward
and help the FDA and other law enforcement agencies,” she said.
“We also hope that those running for elective national and
local posts will address this threat to public health and the environment in
their campaign platforms,” she said.
“For the health of our women and children, we need to act
decisively as a nation to stop the dumping of poison cosmetics into our ports,
markets and households,” she stressed.
The EcoWaste Coalition further raised the need for the
government to initiate a mechanism where the seized or returned mercury-laced
cosmetics can be sent for environmentally sound storage and disposal.