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QC urged to crack down on retailers of mercury-laced skin whiteners
An environment and toxic watchdog group has urged Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte to crack down on retailers of mercury-containing skin whitening products in the city.
In its letter to the mayor, the EcoWaste Coalition reported the illegal trade of mercury-laced skin whiteners, which is banned under Ordinance No. 2767, series of 2018.
Thony Dizon, the group’s Chemical Safety Campaigner, said they conducted test buys to check if skin whitening cosmetics banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for containing mercury are still offered for sale in Quezon City.
“We regret to inform your office that at least seven FDA-banned skin whitening products are openly sold in retail outlets located in various parts of the city,” Dizon said in their letter.
“For the sake of public health, we request the Quezon City Government to crack down on the illegal sale of such products. We specifically request the City Health Department and other concerned offices to enforce the penalty provision of Quezon City Ordinance No. 2767 to encourage business compliance to the law,” he added.
Among the forbidden products being offered for sale in the city despite the national and local regulations banning them were Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream, Erna Whitening Cream, Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene, Goree Day & Night Cream, Jiaoli 7-Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, and S’Zitang 10-Days Eliminating Freckle Day & Night Set.
The group procured the banned items last Wednesday for P100 to P230 each from one Chinese drug store in Commonwealth Market and from four beauty and herbal product stalls operating in Cubao, Fairview and Novaliches malls.
The items bought were then subjected to mercury screening using an X-Ray Fluorescence device, which detected high concentrations of mercury above the maximum limit of one part per million (ppm), the limit set under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive and the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
The two variants of Goree skin care products from Pakistan were found contaminated with 30,400 and 27,500 ppm of mercury, followed by Collagen Plus with 10,200 ppm. Erna and S’Zitang contained 2,979 and 1,731 ppm of mercury, while the two Jiaoli products had 1,611 and 1,109 ppm of mercury.
The group said that mercury, which is not permitted as an ingredient in cosmetics in the ASEAN region, can pose adverse health effects including skin rashes, discoloration and scarring, and reduced skin resistance to bacterial and mycotic skin disorders.
Health authorities have warned against direct and prolonged exposure to mercury through the skin during repeated applications, which can cause damage to the kidneys, the brain and the central nervous system.