CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The city government will look into the proliferation of imported mercury-laden skin-whitening products being openly sold in public markets here as reported by the environmental and health advocate EcoWaste Coalition.
Lawyer Jose Edgardo Uy, head of the city’s joint inspection team, said they have to act on the EcoWaste Coalition report.
The Food and Drug Administration has also released a warning about skin-whitening creams being sold in the market.
Uy said they have yet to receive complaints from users who might have bought skin whiteners, but they have to conduct a surprise inspection within the week.
“We will not wait for complaints from the consumers. If the report says these products have adverse effects, we have to act,” Uy said in an interview Tuesday.
Thony Dizon, EcoWaste Coalition chemical safety campaigner, said lightening creams they bought recently at the Angel Chavez complex, and Cogon and Carmen markets have been found in its testing with a high level of mercury, a highly toxic chemical that is harmful to humans.
EcoWaste Coalition’s finding coincided with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory warning the consuming public not to purchase whitening products which were tested and found to contain mercury levels beyond the one part per million (1 ppm) limit set by the regulatory agency.
The FDA listed down Renow-D New Facial Cream Formula-One, Goree Day and Night Whitening Cream Oil Free, and Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene with SPF 30 Avocado and Aloevera as among those with high mercury content.
Goree is among the products that EcoWaste Coalition has tested which turned out to be mercury-laden, which also includes Collagen Plus Vit. E, JJJ, Jiaoli, S’Zitang, and Xinjiaoli.
During the testing using a portable x-ray fluorescence device, those products have registered a range of 125 to 22,700 ppm, way above the maximum allowable limit of 1 ppm.
“To our disbelief and dismay, FDA-banned skin whitening cosmetics are solder over the counter in [Cagayan de Oro] as if these products are legal and safe to use. Health experts have repeatedly warned that mercury-containing skin whiteners are hazardous to health,” Dizon said.
Dizon said they are alarmed that Goree is still being sold in the city when the FDA has already banned it in 2017.
“After the side effects of using this smuggled cosmetic from Pakistan became highly publicized last year, we notice a drop in the open sale of Goree in Divisoria, Manila. However, it appears that [Cagayan de Oro] is flooded with this dangerous skin whitener,” he added.
Dizon said they will ask the city government to stop the sale of these cosmetics and request the city council to adopt an ordinance that will ban and penalize the manufacture, importation, distribution, and sale of mercury-containing skin-whitening cosmetics like what the Quezon City council did last year.
EcoWaste Coalition said mercury is not allowed as an ingredient in cosmetic products under the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Cosmetic Directive.
Also, the global phase-out of skin whitening products with mercury above 1 ppm is targeted by 2020 under the Minimata Convention on Mercury.
According to both the FDA and the World Health Organization, the adverse health effects brought about by highly toxic mercury in cosmetic products include kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration, and scarring.
Symptoms of mercury exposure include depression, drowsiness, exhaustion, hair loss, inflamed gums, irritability, memory loss, nervousness, rash, sleeplessness, tingling of the extremities, tremors, and weakness(davaotoday.com)