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Health and Wellness

EcoWaste Coalition Finds Another Brand of Thai Skin Cosmetics Laden with Toxic Mercury

Thai Skin Cosmetics

14 January 2023, Quezon City. The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition continues to uncover dangerous mercury-added cosmetics imported from Thailand, which are sold locally online.

Following its discovery last year of nine Thai skin whitening cosmetics containing mercury, including eight facial creams and one underarm cream, the group today announced that it has found Dr. Wuttisak blue and green skincare sets laden with mercury up to 17,950 parts per million (ppm), way above the 1 ppm limit set by the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

“We are appalled to discover another brand of Thai skincare products contaminated with mercury,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “Mercury is toxic and the ban on its use in the production of cosmetics has been in effect for years, especially in Thailand and the ASEAN region, even before the 2020 global phase-out for mercury-added cosmetics under the Minamata Convention.”

“The use of mercury-added skincare products is unsafe for those who directly use them and those who do not, such as children and other members of a household, as mercury can be readily absorbed by the skin or through contact with contaminated items like pillows and towels, as well as through the inhalation of mercury vapors released from product use,” she warned.

Purchased online from a local dealer, the Dr. Wuttisak blue skincare set consists of a facial cleansing soap, serum in a bottle marked #1 and three jars of cream marked #2, #3 and #4. According to the online product description, Cream #2 is a day cream with sunblock SPF60 PA++; Cream #3 is a night cream with collagen and vitamin C for whitening; and Cream #4 is a night cream with vitamins, arbutin and papaya for reducing dark spots, freckles and pimples.

Thai Skin Cosmetics

While the serum and soap of the blue Dr. Wuttisak were negative for mercury, Cream #4 had 10 ppm of mercury, Cream# 2 with 15 ppm, and Cream #3 with 17,950 ppm.

The Dr. Wuttisak green skincare set also has a serum, soap and three creams: Cream #2 is a sunscreen, Cream #3 is a skin conditioning cream, and Cream #4 is an exfoliating cream that reduces acne, blemishes and freckles.

Like the blue Dr. Wuttisak, the serum and soap of the green Dr. Wuttisak screened negative for mercury. However, Creams #4, #2 and #3 had 9 ppm, 11 ppm and 11,200 ppm of mercury, respectively.

An Olympus Vanta M Series X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device was used to detect and measure the mercury content of the analyzed products.

The Thai Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned mercury and its compounds as ingredients in cosmetics as early as 1989, according to a report by the Ecological Alert and Recovery – Thailand (EARTH). In 2008, the Thai Ministry of Public Health (MPH) listed mercury among the prohibited substances in cosmetics. Most recently, the MPH issued a notification in February 2022, which reiterated the ban on mercury in cosmetics.

According to the Thai notification, “the concentration of mercury and its compounds in the finished product shall be less than 1 ppm or 1 mg/kg without exception.”

As stated by the World Health Organization (WHO), the adverse effects of exposure to mercury in cosmetics include skin discoloration, rashes and scarring, decreased skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, and damage to the brain, nervous system and kidneys.

To prevent mercury exposure, the EcoWaste Coalition urged consumers anew to pay attention to the following health and safety tips:

  • Refrain from using skin bleaching, lightening or whitening products, and accept your natural skin color;
  • Shun products with improper labels and those with labeling information that you do not understand;
  • Reject products without proper market authorization;
  • Stop using banned or warned cosmetics; and
  • Discontinue use of mercury-added cosmetics and see a doctor for medical evaluation and advice.

The EcoWaste Coalition further asked online vendors to desist from selling unauthorized cosmetics such as those banned or warned for containing mercury. It likewise asked online shopping platforms to take down listings for such cosmetics and to block non-compliant sellers.


References:

https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/WHO-CED-PHE-EPE-19.13

https://enviliance.com/regions/southeast-asia/th/report_5639

https://ipen.org/sites/default/files/documents/EARTH%20Hg%20in%20Whitening%20-%20Report.pdf

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