Quezon City. As the Consumer Welfare Month is commemorated across the country, the toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition emphasized the right of consumers to be protected against products that are hazardous to health and life.
The group drew attention to the said consumer right against hazards to health and safety as embodied in Republic Act No. 7394, or the Consumer Act of the Philippines, after finding banned cosmetics with mercury content on sale in Santa Rosa City, province of Laguna.
These cosmetics are marketed to whiten and smoothen the skin tone, remove age spots and wrinkles, and treat acne and other skin disorders. Despite containing mercury above the trace amount limit of one part per million (ppm), mercury is not listed among the product ingredients.
“Skin lightening products with mercury are poisonous to health. These products can poison their users, as well as other members of the family who are not using them, especially the children and babies in the womb,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “Exposure to mercury via these poisonous cosmetics can damage the brain, nervous system and the kidneys, and also cause skin discoloration, rashes and blotchy spots.”
Based on the group’s market monitoring on October 10, at least six cosmetic retail stores operating inside Target Mall, Unitop Department Store, and Victory Central Mall in Balibago Complex are selling skin whiteners containing mercury, a toxic chemical forbidden in cosmetic product formulations.
Pakistan-made Goree Beauty with Lycopene and Goree Day & Night Beauty Cream and the Thailand-made 88 Total White Underarm Cream have mercury content and have been banned in the Philippines and other countries.
The EcoWaste Coalition pointed out that RA 7394 prohibits the manufacture, importation, distribution, and sale of consumer products not in conformity with applicable consumer quality or safety standards. Both the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive and the Minamata Convention on Mercury ban cosmetics such as skin lightening creams and soaps with mercury content in excess of 1 ppm.
The country’s consumer protection law further bans the sale of banned consumer products. FDA Advisory No. 2017-289 outlawed the two Goree products for violating the mercury ban in cosmetics, while FDA Advisory No. 2021-1187 banned 88 Total White for being sold without the required market authorization.
Republic Act No. 9711, or the Food and Drug Administration Act, also prohibits the manufacture, importation, exportation, distribution, promotion and sale of health products, including cosmetics, without the proper authorization from the FDA.
The EcoWaste Coalition has reached out to the Santa Rosa City government through a letter e-mailed today to the offices of the City Mayor and the City Administrator. The group urged the local authorities led by Mayor Arlene Arcillas to look into this urgent public health concern and take necessary measures to keep the city, its residents and the environment safe from cosmetics contaminated with mercury.
“To prevent mercury exposure, we appeal to all Filipinos to accept and embrace our natural skin color, and avoid using chemical whiteners laden with mercury and other hazardous substances,” the EcoWaste Coalition concluded. “Beauty has no skin tone.”