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Health and Wellness

Banned Mercury Cosmetics Resurfaced in QC despite Ordinance Banning Them

Goree and 88 Total White
(left photo) Banned Goree and 88 Total White skin lightening products on sale in Bagbag despite the mercury cosmetic product ban. (right photo) A store in Mega Q Mart sells banned mercury-laced Goree and 88 Total White skin lightening products.

20 August 2023, Quezon City. Skin lightening creams banned to protect human health and the environment from the harmful impacts of mercury contamination have reappeared in Quezon City’s retail market.

To mark the Quezon City Day on August 19, as well as the sixth anniversary of the Minamata Convention on Mercury on August 16, the toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition visited a few places to check again on business compliance to Ordinance No. 2767, series of 2018.

Last year, the group went store shopping in Quezon City to promote compliance to the said ordinance, which prohibits business and commercial establishments, as well as street, “tiangge” and online vendors, from engaging in the manufacture, distribution and sale of cosmetics such as skin lightening products with mercury content above one part per million (ppm).

Section 6 of the ordinance provides for the following penalties: a fine of P2,000 and confiscation of banned cosmetic products for the first offense; a fine of P3,000 and suspension to operate business for the second offense; and a fine of P5,000, imprisonment of 30 days or cancellation of business license, or both, at the discretion of the court, for the third offense.

“While some retailers have ceased to sell mercury-containing cosmetics in compliance with the ordinance, a few stores continue to offer these dangerous products smuggled from abroad to consumers seeking a lighter skin tone in clear disregard of the law and the public interest,” noted Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “The city authorities may need to conduct more frequent monitoring to remind retailers about the ordinance and deter would-be violators.”

“We will notify the authorities about our latest findings as we pledge to continue supporting their regulatory and enforcement functions through our modest surveillance and public information efforts,” she added.

Cosmetics with mercury

During the market surveillance it conducted yesterday, the group found banned cosmetics on sale in beauty product stores located in Bagbag and in Mega Q Mart.

Among the banned products openly displayed on the shelves were Thailand-made 88 Total White Underarm Cream and the Pakistan-made Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene and Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Advisory No. 2021-1187 banned the sale of 88 Total White Underarm Cream, which has no valid Certificate of Product Notification. Last December 2022, the EcoWaste Coalition screened four samples of this product for mercury content and found them contaminated with mercury ranging from 2,486 to 3,130 ppm.

On the other hand, FDA Advisory No. 2017-289 banned the two Goree products for containing mercury in excess of one ppm. Samples of Goree products obtained in May 2022 by the EcoWaste Coalition from retailers in 26 cities and municipalities were found adulterated with mercury up to 30,680 ppm.

“As the sixth anniversary of the Minamata Convention is observed, we urge all nations and peoples to faithfully keep the treaty’s promise of protecting public health and the environment from toxic mercury emissions and releases resulting from human activities,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The Minamata Convention is named after the city of Minamata in Japan to remember the lessons of decades-long occurrence of mercury poisoning due to the discharge of mercury-tainted industrial wastewater into the Minamata Bay by a chemical factory, which severely poisoned local communities and stigmatized the disease sufferers.






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