Envi groups ask QC govt to pass ordinance banning mercury-laced skin whiteners

Published September 27, 2018, 10:46 AM

by iManila Developer

By Chito Chavez

Environmental activist groups urged the Quezon City council to immediately approve an ordinance that will protect consumers from mercury-laced skin lightening products sold in the market because they are hazardous to health.

(Photo courtesy of Ecowaste Coalition via blogspot / MANILA BULLETIN)
(Photo courtesy of Ecowaste Coalition via blogspot / MANILA BULLETIN)

The call was made on the heels of a public hearing where toxic watchdog EcoWaste Coalition, the Piglas Kababaihan and the Citizen Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability (COCAP), as well as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), expressed support for the enactment of Proposed Ordinance 20CC-439 co-introduced by Councilor Elizabeth Delarmente.

If approved, the ordinance would ensure strict public compliance by Quezon City’s business and commercial establishments of the nationwide ban on skin whitening creams, lotions and soaps containing mercury above the 1 part per million (ppm) limit set by the FDA in line with the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.

Elsie Brandes de Veyra, COCAP representative and former commissioner of the Philippine Commission on Women pointed out that “mercury-laden skin lightening products are hazardous to health.”

To illustrate the harmful effects of using the skin whitening products, student interns at the EcoWaste Coalition showed the councilors enlarged photos of the victims afflicted with skin blotchiness, discoloration and scarring due to the use of mercury-laced skin lightening cosmetics.

Aside from serious skin problems, “direct and prolonged mercury exposure through the skin during repeated applications can cause damage to the brain, nervous systems and the kidneys,” the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized, citing information from the UN Environment Programme.

According to community leader Mercy Donor of Piglas Kababaihan, there is a need for raising public awareness about the hazards of using mercury-laden skin whitening products.

“Many ordinary consumers like us are not aware of the dangers posed by mercury-containing cosmetics that are supposed to give us flawless and whiter skin complexion. The passage of the ordinance, we hope, will inform public about these products that should be avoided to protect women and even babies in the womb against the harmful effects of mercury exposure,” she said.

Thony Dizon, chemical safety campaigner of EcoWaste Coalition, noted the paramount importance of local government’s support in putting a stop to the illegal trade of skin whitening cosmetics with high mercury content.

“The support from local government units (LGUs) in public information and law enforcement will greatly reinforce the efforts of national government agencies such as the DOH and FDA to rid the market of cosmetics with banned ingredients like mercury,” Dizon said.

“Enacting PO20CC-439 will demonstrate Quezon City government’s resolve to safeguard its citizens against health-damaging products, as well as provide other LGUs with a model ordinance that could make the sale of mercury-contaminated skin cosmetics a thing of the past,” he added.