Groups seek ban on skin-whitening products

DAVAO CITY -- Environmental advocates claimed to have discovered extremely high levels of mercury in skin-whitening products sold in this city.

The Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) and EcoWaste Coalition claimed mercury was found in procured cosmetics from several shops at the city’s Chinatown on July 28 to 29.

Using a portable x-ray fluorescence spectrometer -- a device that can measure the concentration of heavy metals in consumer products -- IDIS and EcoWaste representatives claimed to have detected high levels of mercury in the following products:
  • Erna Whitening Cream with 6,633 parts per million (ppm);
    Jiao Li Miraculous Cream, 508 ppm;
  • S’Zitang (golden yellow box), 4,828 ppm;
  • Jiao Li 7-day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, 4,071 ppm;
  • S’Zitang 7-day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, 3,409 ppm;
  • White Magnolia Powerful Spot Remover Repair Essence, 3,406 ppm; and
  • Jiao Li Speckle-Dispelling and Whitening Cream, 3,042 ppm.

Based on information from a representative of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) who conducted a similar activity last year, cosmetic products are allowed a mercury content of 1 ppm.

The two groups claimed to have also obtained a number of cheap skin-whitening products that have no clearance from the FDA.

Anthony H. Dizon, EcoWaste national coordinator, said in a telephone interview the two groups are now calling on the regulator to inspect and confiscate the products listed by the two groups.

He said the products should be banned until a local ordinance is drafted.

For her part, Mary Divine C. Hilario, health education and promotion section head of the Department of Health (DoH-11), said the agency has for the past three years been advocating the ban on such products.

Ann V. Fuertes, IDIS executive director, said the sale of mercury-tainted cosmetics is a direct affront to the right of consumers to non-hazardous products.

The FDA has been monitoring mercury content in cosmetic products in Manila and released the list of banned items since 2010.

It has issued a warning on the adverse health effects of high toxic mercury in cosmetic products such as kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring.

The manufacture, importation, selling or offering for sale of cosmetics without FDA approval or found to contain harmful or toxic substances is prohibited under Republic Act No. 9711, the Food and Drug Administration Act, and Republic Act No. 7394, the Consumer Act of the Philippines. -- M. M. Padillo


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