By Chito Chavez
Environmental group EcoWaste Coalition has expressed grave concern over the unlawful sale in Baguio City of toxic cosmetics.
The Quezon City-based group urged the concerned government agencies to swiftly end the unabated sale of these items that posed serious health risks to users and even non-users.
EcoWaste Coalition aired its latest toxic alert after finding high concentrations of mercury in 14 skin whitening creams and lead in eight lipsticks that the group purchased on July 6, from retailers in Baguio City.
The group conducted the test buys to check if the sale of cosmetics containing banned ingredients such as mercury and lead has “stopped or not since the group exposed the illegal trade in September 2018’’.
According to the group’s latest test buys, out of the 15 skin whitening creams bought (costing P80 to P280 per set), 14 were found to contain mercury in the range of 970 to 23,700 parts per million (ppm), way above the 1 ppm limit under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive (ACD) and the Minamata Convention on Mercury. Goree Beauty Cream and Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream, which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned in November 2017 were found to be the most contaminated with all three samples containing mercury in excess of 22,000 ppm.
Of the 12 lipsticks bought (costing P20 to P120 per canister), all eight fake MAC Mariah Carey and Qianxiu Hello Kitty lipsticks were found to contain lead from 167 to 42,800 ppm, surpassing the 20 ppm limit for lead in cosmetics under the ACD.
The items were obtained from beauty and herbal product stores operating inside the Baguio Center Mall and the Maharlika Livelihood Complex, and from general merchandise shops in Magsaysay Ave., Rajah Soliman St. and Lower Session Road.
A portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device was used to screen the products for mercury and lead.
“We lament the unabated sale of cosmetics contaminated with chemical poisons like mercury and lead that could spell real trouble for human health as well as the environment,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Mercury in skin whitening products is hazardous to health and may affect not only the person using it, but also other members of the household, including babies and children, who may be exposed through direct contact with contaminated objects or through the inhalation of mercury vapors,” he explained.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO): “The main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage. Mercury in skin lightening products may also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.”
“Lead in lipsticks is ingested as the product is applied and re-applied several times each day,” Dizon added.
“Lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems and is particularly harmful to young children,” the WHO report noted.
Exposure to lead has also been linked to reproductive health issues such as hormonal changes, menstrual irregularities, delays in the onset of puberty, reduced fertility in both men and women, and miscarriage.
The EcoWaste Coalition will formally bring this matter to the attention of Mayor Benjamin Magalong through a letter that will be couriered to his office on Monday, July 8.
“To protect public health and the environment, we will request the honorable mayor to act with urgency to stop the trade of poison cosmetics in Baguio City,’’ the group concluded.