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EcoWaste Coalition: Over 20 Stores Sell Mercury Cosmetics in Pasay City

Mercury Cosmetics
FDA-banned cosmetics on sale at a perfume store in Pasay City

Quezon City. The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition denounced the rampant sale in Pasay City of imported skin whitening products laden with mercury as if such act is within the bounds of law.

The group revealed the unlawful act after identifying over 20 retail stores that sell one or more brands of cosmetics adulterated with mercury, a highly toxic chemical not allowed as an ingredient in cosmetics such as skin whiteners.

Mercury and its compounds are included in Annex II of the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive, which enumerates the substances that must not form part of the composition of cosmetic products. The ACD further sets a maximum limit of one part per million (ppm) for mercury as a heavy metal contaminant in cosmetics.

Mercury Cosmetics
Contraband cosmetics laden with high levels of mercury are openly sold in Pasay City despite the ban.

Based on the monitoring conducted by the group on May 5, 6 and 8, six beauty product stores sell mercury cosmetics in Baclaran Terminal Plaza Mall, four in Victory Pasay Mall, three in Wellcome Plaza, two in Metro Point Mall, two in Two Shopping Center, two in Saulog-Vergara Building, and one in Baclaran Bagong Milenyo Plaza. A perfume store next to McDonald’s EDSA-Taft Rotonda also offers dangerous mercury cosmetics.

Openly sold in these stores are eight cosmetics banned by the FDA from 2010 up to 2023 for containing mercury and/or for lacking market authorization, including 88 Total White Underarm Cream, Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream, Golden Pearl Beauty Cream, Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene, Goree Day & Night Beauty Cream, Goree Gold 24K Beauty Cream, Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, and Parley Goldie Advance Beauty Cream.

Also sold are five cosmetics discovered by the EcoWaste Coalition last month as contaminated with mercury and consequently reported to the FDA: Aima Gold Beauty Cream, Armena Gold Beauty Cream, Pure Pearl Beauty Cream, Zartaaj Beauty Cream, and Zoya Beauty Cream Gold.

Ten of the 13 cosmetics mentioned above were manufactured in Pakistan and the rest came from China, Indonesia and Thailand.

Exposure to mercury

“As the unlawful trade of mercury cosmetics continues to persist in Pasay City and elsewhere, we appeal to local and national government agencies, including customs, health, trade and police authorities, to join forces in order to shatter the smuggling of these contraband cosmetics, uphold the rule of law, and protect public health and the environment, ” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “Concerted enforcement action must also be matched with a parallel advocacy challenging the ‘normalization of skin lightening’ and celebrating the diversity and equity of all skin tones.”

“Mercury-added cosmetics such as skin lightening creams were banned internationally by the Minamata Convention on Mercury because they are high risk products,” said Lee Bell, Mercury Policy Advisor, International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN). “Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin affecting women and children in particular. Not only do these cosmetics directly impact the person applying them, they contaminate the surrounding environment such as furnishing, bedding, towels and clothes, causing exposure to others in the home.”

As pointed out by the World Health Organization (WHO), which has listed mercury among the “10 chemicals of public health concern,” mercury use in skin lightening products can lead to adverse health effects, including skin rashes, discoloration and scarring and reduced dermal resistance to bacterial and mycotic skin disorders. WHO had also warned repeated applications of such products onto the skin can cause damage to the kidneys, the brain and the central nervous system.



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