An environmental and health advocacy group yesterday warned the public against the extensive use of skin whitening products which, it said, pose a serious threat to people’s health.
The group Ecowaste Coalition claimed that all 15 whitening products it subjected to X-Ray fluorescence analyser were found contaminated with toxic mercury ranging from 710 to 30,000 ppm.
Mercury is highly toxic when ingested, inhaled or when it breaks through the skin.
The products found laced with mercury were purchased from 4 to 16 November for P60 to P280 from stores selling cosmetics, herbal supplements and Chinese medicines in Mandaluyong, Manila, Marikina, Parañaque, Pasay, Pasig and Quezon Cities.
The group’s latest test purchases coincided with the second meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP2) on 19 to 23 November in Geneva, Switzerland.
The treaty aims “to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.”
Among other targets, the treaty requires the phase-out of cosmetics, including skin lightening products, with mercury above 1 ppm by the year 2020.
“The 2020 phase-out deadline for mercury-laced skin lightening products is fast approaching, and we still find these smuggled products in store shelves. Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, for example, is still up for sale despite being banned by the FDA in 2010,” the group said.
According to the World Health Organization, “the main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage.”
It also warned that “mercury in skin lightening products may also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.”
The 15 products found to contain mercury were the Parley Herbal Beauty Cream with Avocado (with 30,000 ppm of Mercury), Goree Beauty Cream (22,800 ppm), Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream (20,000 ppm), Yudantang 6-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Cream (19,200 ppm), Golden Pearl Beauty Cream (11,600 ppm), Erna Whitening Cream (8,957 ppm), Feique Lemon Whitening Freckle-Removing Cream (6,122 ppm), S’Zitang-golden box (2,539 ppm), S’Zitang 10-Day Eliminating Freckle Day & Night Set, (2,470 ppm), S’Zitang 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set (1,995 ppm), Jiaoli Miraculous Cream (1,888 ppm), Jiaoli 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, (1,452 ppm), Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream (1,139 ppm) and JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream (710 ppm).
Majority of the products were already banned by the Food and Drug Administration due to their high mercury content.