Alert raised over toxic cosmetics

A number of skin whitening products that have been banned for containing lethal amounts of mercury are being sold in four cities in Central Luzon, according to a group monitoring markets nationwide for toxic consumer products.

Aileen Lucero, coordinator of the group EcoWaste Coalition, said the group investigated reports about the continued sale of skin whitening products that contain high mercury levels that could kill or maim.

“Our investigation proves that banned mercury-laden skin whitening products have crept into the retail market of [Central Luzon] and could be putting the health of gullible consumers at grave risk,” said Lucero in a press statement issued on Wednesday.

 She was referring to results of test buys conducted by EcoWaste on March 6 and 7 in the City of San Fernando and Angeles City in Pampanga, City of Malolos in Bulacan and Olongapo City in Zambales.

Sold in the cities are 12 variants of the obviously Chinese brands Beauty Girl, Jiaoli, S’zitang and Yu Dan Tang skin whitening cream, a list provided by the group showed.

Lucero said these products are still being imported from China and Taiwan although these have long been prohibited by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) for having mercury beyond the one part per million (ppm) limit.

The products are being openly sold for P65 to P185 each and buyers are issued receipts.

The Inquirer was provided a list of the stores, locations and results of mercury content test.

Using handheld X-Ray-Fluorescence (XRF) chemical analyzer, EcoWaste Coalition found what Lucero described to be “outrageous levels” of mercury ranging from 217 to 47,200 ppm.

Using cosmetics with toxic mercury can damage the skin, kidneys and the nervous systems and hinder healthy brain development of unborn and young children, the environmental watchdog warned.