Group seeks seizure of banned skin whitening cosmetics in Davao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 11 April) –EcoWaste Coalition called on Mayor Sara Duterte to confiscate banned mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics that are being sold in different stores in the city.

Banned cosmetic products. Photo courtesy of Ecowaste Coalition

Eileen B. Sison, EcoWaste Coalition president cited that such products contain high concentrations of mercury above the allowable limit of 1 part per million (ppm) as prescribed by the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive.

“Mercury, as you may know, is dangerous to human health and very damaging to the environment,” Sison said in her letter addressed to Duterte dated April 5, 2018.

She said they conducted test buys on April 2 and 3 to determine compliance of stores with the government’s regulation prohibiting mercury in cosmetic formulations above the trace amount of 1 ppm.

She said they obtained 12 samples of banned cosmetic products from Mansion Chinese Drug Store, department store of Wisons Shopping Center, several cosmetic wholesale and product retail outlets within and around DCLA Place and Beauty Icon, located along San Pedro St.

Using a device called X-Ray Fluorescence or XRF spectrometer, she said they were able to quantify the amount of mercury and other chemicals contained in the products.

The illegal products found were Yu Dan Tang Specific Eliminating Freckle Spot, Double Whitening Sun Block Cream with Ginseng, Green Cucumber with 43,700 ppm of mercury; Goree Beauty Cream with 17,800 ppm; Jiaoli 10 Days Eliminating Freckle Day & Night Set with 2,638 ppm;

S’Zitang 10 Days Eliminating Freckle Day & Night Set with 2,537 ppm; Jiaoli 7 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set with 2,482 ppm;  S’Zitang 7 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set with 2,277 ppm; and Jiaoli Miraculous Cream with 2,041 ppm.

“The proscribed items, to our shock and disbelief, are openly displayed and sold in some establishments like any typical personal care and cosmetic articles,” Sison said.

She said these whitening cosmetics are banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to high mercury content.

She cited that selling those products violates Republic Act 9711 or Food and Drug Administration Act and RA 7394 or the Consumer Act of the Philippines.

Mercury is added to products as a whitening agent to inhibit the production of melanin pigment giving the skin a fairer complexion, she said.

But Sison warned that mercury can damage “the nervous, immune and renal systems, and also causes skin discoloration, rashes, and scarring, as well as reduce dermal resistance to bacterial and fungal infections” and may also pollute environment, contaminating the food supply.”

Citing the World Health Organization, Sison said that once mercury enters the environment, it becomes methylated and enters the food-chain as the highly toxic methylmercury in fish, posing risks to pregnant women who consume the fish and their babies who will suffer neurodevelopmental deficits later on.

The group recommended to the city government to conduct a sustained monitoring and law enforcement activities involving the city’s health, police and business inspectors, and in coordination with FDA 11.

It also recommended suing and penalizing erring wholesale and retail outlets, including revoking the business permits of defiant establishments; raising public awareness about specific skin whitening products containing mercury and the risks associated with mercury exposure; and passing an ordinance banning the importation, distribution, sale and use of mercury-containing cosmetics. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)