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EcoWaste Coalition: Ensure Mercury-Free 9.9 Online Shopping Sale

Mercury-Free Online Shopping Sale

Quezon City. The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition is appealing to online shopping giants Shopee and Lazada to make the upcoming 9.9 online shopping sale safe from mercury after monitoring numerous listings for banned mercury-added cosmetics and medical devices, as well as postings for mercury for dental use and for gold refining.

“We again appeal to Shopee, Lazada and other e-commerce sites to keep their customers safe from health-damaging mercury and mercury-containing products as the 9.9 online shopping promos begin,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “To make online shopping mercury-free, they should direct their compliance staff to quickly take down postings for sale of banned mercury-added products such as mercury-containing cosmetics and medical devices, as well as the sale of mercury for dental use and for gold refining.”

“Ensuring a mercury-free marketplace will be in line with the country’s commitment to the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which seeks to protect public health and the environment from the harmful impacts of mercury releases due to human activities,” she added. “It will also help towards the meaningful implementation of the National Action Plan for the phase-out of mercury-added products and the management of associated mercury-containing wastes.”

Lee Bell, Mercury Policy Advisor to the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN) said: “Online sales of mercury and mercury products need to be eliminated. Illegal mercury-based cosmetics sold online are causing unnecessary and harmful exposure to mercury compounds, especially among women of childbearing age who are highly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of mercury, as are their unborn children. The Minamata Convention has now phased out nearly all industrial processes and products containing mercury so there is no excuse for online sales of elemental mercury to continue. It is clear that the majority of this mercury is destined for illegal gold mining further polluting the environment and food chain while exposing miners to dangerous high levels of mercury fumes. Stopping the online sales of mercury turns off the tap for mercury supplies and every effort should be made to shut down this trade.”

Despite the measures taken by health and trade authorities to curb the online sale of fraudulent and hazardous products and notwithstanding the “zero tolerance” policy of both Shopee and Lazada for such products, the unethical and unlawful posting for sale of mercury-added products by third-party sellers has not stopped, posing a serious risk to consumers and the ecosystems.

According to the monitoring conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition on September 7 ahead of the 9.9 sale, skin lightening products banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for containing mercury above the trace amount limit of one part per million (ppm) continue to proliferate in online shopping platforms.

Mercury-Free Online Shopping Sale

Among those illegally sold online are cosmetics covered by FDA Advisory Nos. 2022-1347 and 2018-106 (Temulawak Day & Night Cream), 2021-3060 (Golden Pearl Beauty Cream), 2021-3043 (Parley Goldie Advance Beauty Cream), 2021-1187 (88 Total White Underarm Cream), 2021-0646 and 2017-314 (Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream), 2017-289 (Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene and Goree Day & Night Beauty Cream), 2015-025 (S’Zitang 7 Days Specific Whitening & Spot AB Set and S’Zitang 10-Day Whitening & Spot Day Night Set), 2013-053-A (Feique Herbal Extract Chinese Herbal Formula Whitening Anti-Freckle Set), 2010-004 (Jiaoli 7-Day Eliminating Freckle AB Set), and 2010-02 (Jiaoli Miraculous Cream).

Also sold online are other skincare cosmetics reported to the FDA by the EcoWaste Coalition for containing high levels of mercury, including Armena Gold Beauty Cream, 4K Plus Whitening Night Cream, 88 Whitening Cream, Lady Gold Seaweed Gluta/Super Gluta Brightening, Meyyong Seaweeds Super Whitening, Polla Gold Super White, and several variants of Dr. Yanhee, Dr. Wittisak, and Feique facial creams.

The group’s monitoring also revealed the continuing trade in mercury-containing medical devices such as mercurial sphygmomanometers and thermometers, which the Department of Health phased out in 2010 in accordance with DOH Administrative Order No. 2008-0021.

The group also spotted several postings for mercury products used to repair broken or decayed teeth. FDA Circular No. 2022-003 banned the importation, distribution and sale of liquid mercury and dental amalgam capsules for use in dental restorative purposes.

Worst, the group saw listings for “Hg for gold refining” (Hg is the chemical symbol for mercury). Executive Order No. 79 issued in 2012 banned the use of mercury in small-scale mining and mineral processing.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP): “Mercury is a toxic element. Although mercury occurs naturally, the levels in our air, water, land, food, and bodies have increased, due in part, to use and releases from mercury-containing products. Once released into the environment, mercury and its compounds can build up in fish, wildlife, and humans. Even small amounts of mercury and its compounds can impact human health and the environment.”

“As government regulators strengthen their compliance monitoring and enforcement efforts, we urge online marketplaces to stop the use of their platforms by third-party sellers to sell mercury and banned mercury-added products. It’s high time for Shopee, Lazada and others to go mercury-free,” the EcoWaste Coalition concluded. “If not now, when?”

Examples of listings for products and materials containing mercury (downloaded on 7 September 2023):

1. Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene and Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream, Golden Pearl Beauty Cream, Parley Goldie Beauty Cream
Shopee: search words: “beauty cream Pakistan
Lazada: search words: “Pakistan whitening cream

2. 88 Total White Underarm Cream (search words: “88 Total White”)

3. Jiaoli (two variants) and S’Zitang (two variants)
Shopee: search words: “Jiaoli, S’Zitang
Lazada: search words: “S’Zitang cream

4. Feique Herbal Extract Chinese Herbal Formula Whitening Anti-Freckle Set
Shoppe: search words: “Feique herbal extract
Shopee: search wods: “Feique cream

5. Temulawak Day & Night Cream
Shopee: search word: “Temulawak

6. Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Nigh Cream:

7. Erna Whitening Cream
Shopee: search words: “Erna whitening

8. Mercury medical devices
Shopee: search words: “mercury sphygmomanometer

9. Mercury for dental use
Lazada: search words: “dental amalgam

10. Mercury for gold refining

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