Excessive Mercury Found In 13 Products

MANILA, Philippines --- A consumer watchdog is urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban supposed harmful skin whitening products sold in the Philippines after it found 13 of them containing excessive amounts of mercury.

Ecowaste Coalition said 13 of the 14 skin whitening products it purchased in stores in Manila and Makati Cities contained excessive levels of mercury from 550 parts per million (ppm) to 60,800 ppm in violation of the 1 ppm allowable limit under the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Cosmetics Directive.

It said mercury can damage the kidneys and nervous system, and adversely affect the normal development of the brain in fetuses and young children.

In 2010 and 2011, the FDA banned 50 skin whitening products in the country that were found to contain mercury levels that exceeded the 1 ppm limit.

"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," said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition's "Project Protect."

Dr. Bessie Antonio of the East Avenue Medical Center told Ecowaste Coalition that even those not using skin whitening products with mercury can be exposed to the poison.

"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 used the cream and then placed her hands into her mouth," said Antonio, a pediatric toxicologist.

Ecowaste Coalition said the 13 skin whitening products containing excessive mercury were purchased from stores in Binondo, Divisoria, Quiapo, and Sta. Cruz in Manila and Guadalupe in Makati.

The products were screened for mercury using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer, Lucero said.

Ecowaste Coalition has sent a letter to FDA Officer-in-Charge Nicolas Lutero III, urging the agency to issue a new advisory to ban products containing mercury beyond 1 ppm.

It also urged the FDA to publish consumer education material to inform the public about the dangers of cosmetics containing mercury.

The coalition also urged victims of mercury exposure from skin whitening products to come out.

FDA Spokesman Ronald de Vera told the Manila Bulletin that the FDA will conduct laboratory tests on the products submitted by Ecowaste Coalition.

He said if the FDA confirmatory tests showed that these products contained mercury beyond the 1 ppm allowable level, the FDA will immediately issue an advisory against these products.

Ecowaste identified the 13 products it tested positive of high levels of mercury between on June 18-19 as:

1. Feique Whitening Anti-Freckle Cream manufactured/distributed by GLDJB (Harbin) Cosmetics Ltd.,China (purchased for P60 from stall IA 43-45, 168 Mall, Divisoria, Manila), 16,000 ppm of mercury;

2. Feique Golden Aloe Whitening Anti-Scar, Anti Freckle Set manufactured/distributed by GLDJB (Harbin)Cosmetics Ltd., China (purchased for P60 from stall IA 43-45, 168 Mall, Divisoria, Manila), 25,000 ppm of mercury;

3. Feique Green Tea Vital Whitening Freckle-Removing Cream manufactured/distributed by GLDJB (Harbin) Cosmetics Ltd., China (purchased for P150 from stall IA 43-45, 168 Mall, Divisoria, Manila), 15,800 ppm of mercury;

4. Bai Li Tou Hong manufactured/distributed by (not indicated in English) (purchased for P150 from stall IA 43-45, 168 Mall,Divisoria, Manila), 46,700 ppm of mercury;

5. Maidaifu Herbal Moisturizing and Whitening Cream manufactured/distributed by (not indicated in English) (purchased forP180 from Stall IA-45, 168 Mall, Divisoria, Manila), 60,800 ppm of mercury;

6. Green Cucumber and Ginseng 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Set manufactured/distributed by Yudantang International, Taiwan (purchased for P120 from stall IR-24, 168Mall, Divisoria), 9,414 ppm of mercury;

7. Loreial Paris Anti-Freckle Cream Suit manufactured/distributed by (not indicated on the label) (purchased for P120 from stall IB 2-4 999 Shopping Mall,Divisoria, Manila), 1,371 ppm of mercury;

8. Aichun Beauty Strongly WhiteningFreckle Series (3 in one) manufactured/distributed by France Sasa (HK) International Group Ltd. / Livepro Beauty Cosmetics Co. Ltd., China (purchased for P98 from G2 Beauty Products, Villalobos St., Quiapo, Manila), 550 ppm of mercury;

9. "Special Cream" (double, label in Chinese) manufactured/distributed by (not indicated in English) (purchased for P80 from stall G-162 Good Earth Mall, Bustos St., Sta. Cruz, Manila), 1,565 ppm of mercury;

10. "Special Cream" (single, label in Chinese)manufactured/distributed by (not indicated in English) (purchased for P80 from Famous Chinese Drug Store, Recto Ave. near Rizal Ave., Sta. Cruz, Manila), 1,378 ppm of mercury;

11. Yudantang Ginseng and Ganoderma Lucidum 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Sun Block Creammanufactured/distributed by Yudantang International, Taiwan (purchased for P140 from Rose and Fujikura General Merchandise, Uni-Mec Supermarket, Guadalupe, Makati City), 31,300 ppm of mercury;

12. Aichun Beauty Green Tea Whitening Speckle Removing Series (3 in one) manufactured/distributed by France Sasa (HK) International Group Ltd./Livepro Beauty Cosmetic Co. Ltd., China (purchased for P90 from G2 Beauty Products, Carriedo St., Quiapo, Manila), 1,250 ppm of mercury; and

13. Aichun Beauty Pawpaw Whitening and Freckle Remover Series (3 in one) manufactured/distributed by France Sasa (HK) International Group Ltd./Livepro Beauty Cosmetic Co. Ltd., China (purchased for P90 from G2 Beauty Products, Carriedo St., Quiapo, Manila), 867 ppm of mercury.

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