MANILA, Philippines – A group campaigning for safe cosmetics urged the public on Wednesday to stay away from skin whitening products that allegedly contain excessive levels of mercury.
Using an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, the EcoWaste Coalition said it found 13 new products that contain 550 parts per million to 60,800 ppm of mercury, significantly higher than the 1 ppm limit under the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive.
The group noted that none of these items are included in the Food and Drugs Administration’s (FDA) list of banned skin whitening products.
It added that the products, sold from P60 to P180 at cosmetic stalls and Chinese drug stores in Manila, had mercury listed as an ingredient.
“We have notified the FDA about the illicit sale of mercury-tainted products that lure consumers with the promise of lighter complexion and removal of facial freckles, scars and spots. These products are dangerous and should not be sold to uninformed consumers,” Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect said in a statement.
“Even those not using mercury-laced skin whitening products can be exposed to this poison,” added Dr. Bessie Antonio of the East Avenue Medical Center. “A child, for example, can inhale the mercury vapor with the application of the cream by the user, or even directly ingest mercury if she touches a person who has used the cream and then place her hands into her mouth.”
According to the EcoWaste Coalition, mercury can damage a person’s kidneys and nervous system, and can interfere with the development of the brain in fetuses and children.
In a letter to the FDA, the group said the following skin whitening products should be banned for having excessive levels of mercury:
1. Feique Whitening Anti-Freckle Cream, 16,000 ppm of mercury
2. Feique Golden Aloe Whitening Anti-Scar, Anti-Freckle Set, 25,000 ppm of mercury
3. Feique Green Tea Vital Whitening Freckle-Removing Cream, 15,800 ppm of mercury
4. Bai Li Tou Hong, 46,700 ppm of mercury
5. Maidaifu Herbal Moisturizing and Whitening Cream, 60,800 ppm of mercury
6. Green Cucumber and Ginseng 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Set, 9,414 ppm of mercury
7. Loreial Paris Anti-Freckle Cream Suit, 1,371 ppm of mercury
8. Aichun Beauty Strongly Whitening Freckle Series (3 in one), 550 ppm of mercury
9. Special Cream (double, label in Chinese), 1,565 ppm of mercury
10. Special Cream (single, label in Chinese), 1,378 ppm of mercury
11. Yudantang Ginseng and Ganoderma Lucidum 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Sun Block Cream, 31,300 ppm of mercury
12. Aichun Beauty Green Tea Whitening Speckle Removing Series (3 in one), 1,250 ppm of mercury
13. Aichun Beauty Pawpaw Whitening and Freckle Remover Series (3 in one), 867 ppm of mercury
Meanwhile, the EcoWaste Coalition urged consumers to read product labels carefully and refuse to buy cosmetics that do not provide understandable and adequate information.