Home>Editorial>Miscellaneous>BAN Toxics conducts webinar to warn Filipino consumers on dangers of mercury-added beauty products

BAN Toxics conducts webinar to warn Filipino consumers on dangers of mercury-added beauty products

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QUEZON CITY — Driven by their advocacy in addressing the adverse effects of mercury on human health and the environment, environmental watchdog BAN Toxics organized an online panel discussion about the prevalence of mercury-added beauty creams in Philippine online marketplaces.

Titled “Dangerous Mercury-Laden Skin-Lightening Products Readily Available for Online Purchase,” the goal of the online webinar was to create a dialogue with various local implementing bodies regarding the availability of mercury-added skin-lightening creams online, as well as to warn their consumers about the threat of using these products.

BAN Toxics is a non-government environmental organization whose activities focus on addressing the adverse effects of toxic chemicals and wastes, with a special focus on the campaign for a mercury-free society.

“We want to be able to host a space where specialists can inform and educate Filipinos about the dangers of using cosmetic products with mercury,” BAN Toxics Executive Director Reynaldo San Juan Jr. said.

“Mercury is still dangerous no matter how little the amount is, there is no amount of mercury that is ever safe,” he added.

The discussion was joined by Jam Lorenzo, policy and research associate of BAN Toxics; Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Manager of Zero Mercury Campaign; and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food-Drug Regulation Officer Cheryl Lynn Tan who discussed the measures undertaken to protect consumers from mercury-added cosmetic products.

During the webinar, Chemical Engineering Assistant Professor Dr. Lawrence Belo from De La Salle University also talked about the adverse effects of mercury-added cosmetic products to human health and the environment.

In Belo’s discussion, he said mercury is easily absorbed through the skin and can cause birth defects, kidney and liver problems, fatigue, irritability, tremors, depression, and death.

“Always check the labels because one night with Venus might cost you a lifetime with Mercury,” he added.

Exceeding the required mercury amount

The two-hour webinar was conducted with the guidance of a study made by Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG), an international coalition of more than 110 public interest environmental and health non-governmental organizations from over 55 countries from around the world formed in 2005 by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and the Mercury Policy Project.

In 2019, ZMWG tested 158 skin lightening creams from 12 sampling countries, in which 95 exceeded the allowable mercury level limit of 1 ppm (part per million).[1] Research in August 2021 showed these mercury-laded skin creams are still widely available for purchase in online marketplace accessible in the Philippines.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury was ratified in the Philippines last 2020, whose purpose is to protect human health and the environment from the harmful effects of mercury emissions and mercury compounds.[2]

The convention’s policies were later extended for each party to ban manufacture, import, or export of cosmetics containing over 1 ppm by taking appropriate measures. This was supported by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) passing of Administrative Order No. 2019-20 which sought to ban transactions of mercury-added products in the Philippines by the end of 2022.[3]


[1] ZMWG’s Dangerous, mercury-laden and often illegal skin-lightening products Readily available for (online) purchase

[2] Philippines brings to 123 the number of parties to the Minamata Convention

[3] Chemical Control Order – DENR Administrative Order 2019-20 (CCO-DAO 2019-20) Revised Chemical Control Order (CCO) for Mercury and Mercury Compounds

By Jhian Christian Aranas
Jhian Christian Aranas is a communication assistant at BAN Toxics, and currently a senior journalism student at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. Aside from his passion at work, he also strongly advocates the importance of protecting and preserving the environment.

BAN Toxics
BAN Toxics is an environmental organization that works for the advancement of environmental justice, health, and sustainable development in the area of chemicals and wastes, with a special focus on women, children, and other marginalized sectors.