A QUEZON City-based environmental and health organization is urging the City Government, health and police authorities of Cagayan de Oro City to help stop the illegal sale of skin whitening products laden with mercury in the market.
"Upang mapangalagaan ang kalusugan ng tao at kalikasan, ang EcoWaste Coalition ay nanawagan sa mga ahensya ng pamahalaan na magtulong-tulong upang mapahinto ang illegal na kalakalan sa mga produktong pampaputi na kontaminado ng mercury," Thony Dizon, chemical safety campaigner of EcoWaste Coalition, said.
Dizon also requested 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 Quezon City Council did last year.
The Ecological Waste Coalition of the Philippines (EcoWaste Coalition), in a press conference held at the Red Planet on Tuesday, June 4, presented some imported skin lightening creams sold at the Angel Chavez Commercial Complex, Cogon Public Market, and Agora Public Market.
Among the presented cosmetics products include Goree Day and Night Whitening Cream Oil Free and Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene with SPF 30 Avocado and Aloevera, both of which were banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017; Erna Whitening Cream, and others.
"Simula noong 2010, mahigit 135 na mga produktong pampaputi ang ipinagbawal ng FDA (Food and Drugs Authority) dahil sa taglay na mercury na lagpas sa 1 part per million," Dizon said.
The FDA has set a maximum allowable limit of mercury in cosmetic products generally of no more than 1 part per million (ppm) (0.0001 percent).
The test buys conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition last Sunday, June 2, netted 33 banned items representing seven brands such as Collagen Plus Vit E, Erna, Goree, JJJ, Jiaoli, S'Zitang and Xinjiaoli. The items were bought from 12 retail stores for P40 to P300 each.
The items, through a chemical screening using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, contained mercury in the range of 125 to 22,700 ppm, way above the maximum allowable limit set by FDA.
According to FDA and the World Health Organization, the "adverse health effects brought about by highly toxic mercury in cosmetics 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.
Dizon advised the public, particularly the consumers, to avoid products: that have not undergone quality and safety verification by the FDA; that the FDA has already banned due to their mercury content; that lack adequate and understandable labeling information; that do not provide information about their ingredients; and that are sold by unauthorized dealers or stores.
"Hindi lahat ng pampaputi ng balat na mabibili sa merkado ay magpapaganda o pampaganda. Maraming produkto ang napatunayang nagtataglay ng mercury na maaring magdulot ng matinding pinsala sa kalusugan ng katawan at pati na rin sa kapaligiran. Kaya mag ingat po tayo," Dizon said.